- Endgame's software helps software sales teams convert trial users to paying customers.
- The company has beta testers at Figma, Loom, and Airtable brimming with excitement.
- Naomi Ionita of Menlo Ventures says their enthusiasm gave her the conviction to invest.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Naomi Ionita, a partner at Menlo Ventures, knew her competitors were circling around a promising new company called Endgame, and she wanted to make it the crown jewel of her enterprise software-focused portfolio.
So when Endgame's founder went to visit San Francisco earlier this year, Ionita met him for a hike in Bernal Heights. She was 35 weeks pregnant and made her pitch, panting, on why he should take Menlo's money over another firm's.
"I needed that connection in person to lead that investment and partner for the next decade," Ionita said.
Endgame has just announced it's raised $12.25 million in a round led by Menlo Ventures, just months after closing a $5 million seed round. Ionita, along with Kara Nortman, a partner at Upfront Ventures, will join the board.
Ionita said she hustled to close the deal — even when she had a good excuse to take it easy — because of her conviction. She predicts Endgame will become the system of record for SaaS sales teams as it tackles their biggest pain point.
Before she became an investor, Ionita was a growth hacker. She spent years at Evernote and Invoice2Go, where she led teams focused on holding onto customers and increasing revenues. Evernote grew users 10x during her tenure.
Ionita saw that the way most software companies closed sales was changing. They could no longer rely on cold calls and demos to sign up customers.
Instead, companies like Evernote tried a "self-serve" approach: Offering a free trial or a less robust version of the product for free. If the user liked it, they might upgrade to a subscription, even share it with their colleagues. Later, those employees might ask their company to pay for an enterprise-grade version.
The downside of this approach was that salespeople had a hard time cracking which users were potential customers and when was a good time to approach them about converting their free trial to a contract, Ionita said.
Its software tracks how people are using a customer's product and points the sales team to the accounts that are likely to upgrade, based on signals it gets from a number of data sources. Ionita says the company's insights give salespeople "a prioritized set of marching orders," so they're not wasting time figuring out who is ready to buy.
Ionita said she was a believer from the first time she met the founder and chief executive, Alex Bilmes. But she wanted to hear from some of the company's early beta testers, like executives at Figma, Loom, and Airtable.
Their response was "off the charts," she said.
"These are people who were chomping at the bit for a product like this," Ionita said.
Those interviews gave her the conviction to lead the round, even though the company barely had a product at the time. It was still gathering feedback from design partners at Clubhouse, Mode, Retool, Algolia, and others.
"For these brands to say 'I want this yesterday' was really meaningful," Ionita said, adding that it helped get her partnership onboard. "Because it's one thing for me to say, 'the world needs this,' and it's another thing to say, 'look at all these design partners that are immediately in line to work with Alex and to build this in partnership.'"
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