Vennli Draws Up $5M+ Round for Visualization Software

Analytics is a big buzzword in business circles these days. As companies in a growing number of industries snap up software to help them hone their marketing efforts, Indiana startup Vennli is arming itself with $5.3 million in fresh cash to support its analytics software.

The new money for South Bend, IN-based Vennli is part of an equity offering targeting $7.6 million, according to a securities filing. The company did not respond to a request for comment. On its website, Vennli says its software provides real-time insight into what customers want and what customers think about a company versus its competitors—information that companies can use to develop ways to stand out.

Vennli says its cloud-based software provides insight via customer surveys sent by e-mail or posted on social media. The company’s software uses a patent-pending algorithm to crunch survey responses and present that information in a viewable form. This “vLens,” what Vennli describes as a dynamic Venn diagram, consists of three overlapping circles representing what customers want, which services and products they prefer, and their unmet needs.

The Vennli software fills out the diagram with pin points that represent customer responses and preferences. The location of a response on the diagram shows how a company is performing with its own initiatives and how those initiatives match up against competitors. Vennli’s website lists customers such as BMW (XETRA: [[ticker:BMW.DE]]), Dunkin Brands Group (NASDAQ: DNKN), and Nucor (NYSE: NUE).

Software companies that can help businesses analyze customer data and use that information to drive sales have become attractive to both the businesses that want these insights as well as large companies that want to sell such software. Last week, San Mateo, CA-based Marketo (NASDAQ: MKTO announced private equity firm Vista Equity Partners reached an agreement to acquire the company for $1.7 billion, a 64 percent premium over Marketo’s closing stock price before the deal. That deal comes a year after NetSuite (NYSE: N) bought Durham, NC-based Bronto Software for $200 million.

Both Marketo and Bronto offer “marketing automation” software, which analyzes consumers’ behavior on a company website and sends them targeted e-mails, such as product recommendations or shopping cart abandonment reminders. These offerings help companies, many of them retailers, personalize the consumer experience as part of a strategy to boost sales.

Vennli doesn’t call its own approach marketing automation, and while the company aims to help businesses boost sales, its software works differently from the marketing efforts of Marketo and Bronto. The company emphasizes the visualization of data—though that in itself is not unique. Cary, NC-based SAS, for example, has long offered visualization tools in addition to analytics capabilities for its customers in retail and finance, among other industries.

Gary Gigot, Vennli’s CEO, co-founded the company in 2013 with Joe Urbany, a University of Notre Dame professor of marketing. Urbany had developed models that give insight into customer choices and show how businesses can position themselves to take advantage of those choices. Gigot’s experience includes serving as vice president of marketing at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). He was also chief marketing officer at Visio, a company that developed diagramming and graphics software that was acquired by Microsoft in 2000.

Vennli’s cash infusion comes a little more than a year after the company said it raised $2.5 million from IrishAngels, Ambassador Enterprises, 1st Source, Elevate Ventures, Great Lakes Capital, Magnet Group, and angel investors.

Frank Vinluan is editor of Xconomy Raleigh-Durham, based in Research Triangle Park. You can reach him at fvinluan [at] xconomy.com Follow @frankvinluan

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