CB Insights Evolves with $1.15M from the National Science Foundation

[UPDATED 8/26/15. See below.] Taking in its first-ever outside funding, CB Insights is growing its ranks, working on its software, and kicking off a new service called CB Insights for Sales.

New York-based venture data firm CB Insights launched in 2010, to be what co-founder and CEO Anand Sanwal called a “Bloomberg for private markets.” The $1.15 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), announced by the company on Monday, will go towards further development of its software, which uses public data to predict the health of private companies—information it sells to the venture capital community.

CB Insights has been growing through its own revenue thus far, but the injection of cash, Sanwal said via e-mail, will also help expand its current staff of 54 to more than 70 by year’s end.

[Paragraphs added to provide further context regarding the funding.] Sanwal said the NSF, like many federal departments,  uses the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to support the development of new technologies and research. That is where the funding came from.

“One of the things they look for, beyond technology with commercial value, is technology that could have a broader impact,” he said. If the software CB Insights developed performed as promised, it would offer a better understanding of private companies, and open up new opportunities for those companies from lenders.

“Because private companies are a major economic catalyst and often find it hard to get credit, anything that better helps them access credit while managing risk for banks as well would be a net positive for the economy,” Sanwal said.

In addition to the funding news, CB Insights also announced Monday the launch of CB Insights for Sales, a service which uses algorithms and analytics to automate lead generation for business-to-business sales personnel and assist them with finding new customers—a potential improvement on the cold call.

Comparison_identifyThe new service was created, the company said, after CB Insights discovered that sales people at businesses such as Cushman & Wakefield and Gartner were also using its data. Such information was primarily geared for venture capitalists, bankers, and others in the mergers and acquisition market. CB Insights for Sales was developed for sales teams to work with.

CB Insights for Sales finds potential new customers that are similar to existing clientele, and also creates profiles of leads based on their industry, size, and geography. It will also give the user a side-by-side look at various potential clients. “The idea behind that is that you can compare sales leads against one another to prioritize opportunities and get smart on an industry quickly,” Sanwal said.

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