Our Investment in stensul: The Joy of Solving a Problem That Every Company Has
“I thought I would just have to live with this problem forever.”
A senior marketing executive recently said this to me when describing the pain associated with email creation for enterprises. Email based customer communications are a critical, foundational element of every business. In most cases, the email channel is the lifeblood of marketing, sales, customer service and more.
For something so important, one would expect to find a full complement of agile enterprise-grade, modern SaaS applications deeply penetrated within large enterprises to make email creation efficient. Instead, enterprise marketers describe email creation as a broken and painful process involving external agencies and long cycle times that rely on building emails with blocks of HTML code. Outdated and inefficient processes put marketers at risk of using the wrong image, the wrong text, the wrong alignment, the wrong link. Meanwhile, the raw building blocks of emails live in sophisticated digital asset management platforms and delivery is automated by a wide variety of email marketing and marketing automation platforms.
But what about email creation — the most painful and difficult part of the whole process? It’s not often that you get invited to be part of a team that is creating a SaaS category by being first to solve such a ubiquitous problem for enterprises. So it is with great excitement that I announce USVP has led a $16M Series B investment in stensul to support the company’s continued growth as the category-leader in email creation.
At USVP, we are proud to have made early-stage investments in many SaaS companies that emerged as leaders in their category, like Concur, Guidewire, Box, and Yammer. One common thread we have observed is that our successful enterprise software investments have focused on a specific pain point and really nailed it in terms of providing a solution to that need. With this experience as context, we were blown away by what we heard from stensul’s blue-chip enterprise customers.
When it comes to the specific pain point, one Global Head of Marketing told us, “This problem of email creation and execution — I’ve been living in this hell for over 20 years. Every marketing team is struggling with the question how do we create email? Another told us, ‘I’ve been saying somebody should make a system that does this. Come on, it should be a SaaS app! Such an acute need, we needed something!’”
I’ve been on enough customer diligence calls in my 16 years in the venture capital business to know what it sounds like when customers are absolutely crying out for a solution — and wow, did I hear that from the marketers I spoke to about stensul. When it comes to nailing the solution, we were similarly excited by what we heard. One marketing ops manager said, “When we saw stensul, I said this is exactly what we need.”
A customer service manager at a large tech company said, “Stensul is a ‘duh, why didn’t we have this earlier’ product. From a budget/ROI standpoint it’s ‘duh, of course we will use stensul’.”
What an overwhelming endorsement. It’s hard to think of a company that doesn’t need stensul, and there’s real joy in solving a painful problem that so many people have.
We first were introduced to stensul by a trio of premier early-stage investors — First Round Capital, Uncork Capital, and Javelin Ventures — who saw the potential and backed the company on the Series A round. I had the opportunity to get to know stensul founder and CEO Noah Dinkin around the time of the Series A funding and was impressed to watch Noah and his team execute on their goals and quickly establish stensul as the category leader in email creation. When I saw what the stensul team was able to accomplish, I jumped at the opportunity to lead the stensul Series B.
My partners at USVP and I are grateful that Noah chose to partner with us and we look forward to supporting Noah and his team as they dominate the email creation SaaS category and build stensul into the next great brand in SaaS. Thank you, Noah!