Nexla, a company that participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in New York City in 2017, has been building its data operations startup the old-fashioned way. After launching in beta and securing a $3.5 million seed at Battlefield, it has proceeded to build a cash flow positive business. Today with a firm financial foundation in place, the company announced a $12 million Series A.
Industry Ventures led the round, with participation from Liberty Global Ventures, Blumberg Capital, Engineering Capital, Storm Ventures, Correlation Ventures and a number of industry angels.
Company co-founder and CEO Saket Saurabh says that his company has been building a data platform, and bringing together the integration, preparation and monitoring of data in one place. When he started the company in 2017, he was a bit ahead of the market, but since then the data space, particularly as it relates to machine learning, has been heating up and the company has been seeing traction with customers like DoorDash, Instacart, Poshmark and Freshworks, among others.
Saurabh says that has led to investor interest, and they believed it was the right time to take on additional money. "The good thing for us is being cash flow positive is that it means that we can control our own destiny as a company, and we thought this was the right time for us to pick up capital and speed things up," he said.
He says that in spite of an initial pandemic slow-down last year, most of the company's customers have seen an increase in the need for a platform like Nexla to deal with growing amounts of business data.
"Data is essential for most businesses we work with, and I think we saw more demand [after the initial stages of the pandemic]. So for example, companies like Instacart and DoorDash certainly saw an increase in demand, and that means that they need more technology and more solutions. That certainly played a factor in our growth," Saurabh said.
He adds that his customers are not other startups, but enterprises that need to deal with large amounts of data. "What benefits us is that enterprise commitment to data and technology has been there and has only grown, the need for acceleration has grown, the need for supporting new business models has grown," he said.
Unlike a lot of startups that may start in small or medium-sized business, then make the move into the enterprise, Nexla's initial customers have been larger companies. The goal with this money is actually to expand the market by offering it to smaller organizations. "It's not just the large companies that need this. More companies are getting there earlier in the cycle. So for us, a large part of the push [moving forward] is bringing this to the masses, bringing it to the companies earlier in the growth cycle," he said.
With the new money the company plans to hire more people and reach close to 50 employees by the end of the year. Saurabh believes that being a remote company will help build a more diverse group. "I think that's absolutely important and essential, and the fact that it's now possible to hire people remotely, we are already building a pretty diverse, somewhat global team."
While the company is building a worldwide team, it has an office presence in San Mateo, California, and Saurabh hopes to have a hybrid approach when offices reopen. "We do find that in early-stage small companies, it is extremely valuable and useful for people to have face-to-face time to get to get to know each other and to build trust. So we will continue on this hybrid model, where we'll facilitate even for remote team members, opportunities to meet in person whenever it becomes safe for them to do so."