Behind the Round with SaaStr: Klue Raises $15 Million from Craft Ventures for Competitive Analysis

Klue, which operates an AI-based competitive analysis platform, announced a $15 million Series A investment this week.  Craft Ventures led the round and there was participation from HWVP, OMERS Ventures, Rhino Ventures, and BDC Ventures.  The round also saw investments from angels like Frederic Kerrest, who is the co-founder of Okta.  

Founded in 2015, Klue addresses a part of the corporate world that has seen little innovation.  After all, when a company engages in competitive intelligence, there will often be the retaining of a consulting firm.  The engagement may last a few months and involve extensive interviews and online research (yes, lots of Googling!)  

But there are some obvious drawbacks.  First of all, the process is highly manual and costly.  Next, the information may be useful for a limited amount of time, which can definitely be damaging for a company.  Let’s face it, if a sales rep is going after an account and does not know the true competitive situation, then a deal could easily be lost.  

“I used to do this kind of consulting work,” said Brian Murray, who is a venture capitalist with Craft Ventures.  “Klue was one of those products that – when I saw it – I knew it was going to be a thing.  Then we saw the traction.”

It was one of Klue’s seed investors, OMERS Ventures, that made the introduction to Craft Ventures when the company started its Series A round.  This was in March of 2020.  

The Klue platform uses web scraping/monitoring and AI/ML to detect material signals from competitors like changes on a pricing page, the introduction of new functions/products or market expansions.  The information has wide applications across an organization, such as with marketing, sales, and product teams.  Think of Klue as a system of record about your competitors.  

“The main value prop is treating competitive intel as a living cloud document,” said Murray.  “It’s editable by all reps or anyone who gets access to the information.  Then a central group, which is usually the product marketing team, can curate it.”  

Klue is built with a card format design, which allows highlighting important information.  This is where the AI/ML comes it as the data is put into manageable blocks.  The app also has integrations with a myriad of collaboration tools, such as Slack.    

For an early stage company, Klue has had strong traction from large enterprise customers.  Just some include Cisco, SAP and Salesforce’s Tableau.  

“One reason is that there is not anything out there like Klue,” said Murray.  “There’s a stark contrast with the status quo.  Second, the teams that are charged with competitive intel work, they never really had tools for them.  And third, the competition only intensifies when a company gets larger.  Your market consolidates and you are competing against little soundbites.”

This certainly highlights an important lesson for any tech entrepreneur.  “One of the most effective ways to attack a market with a SaaS product is to give a tool to someone who is tool-less.”

Note:  You can check out the Zoom interview with Murray here:

Published on September 11, 2020

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