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Being a marketer in 2017 is hard.
You entered the role with rose-tinted glasses, thinking it would be full of creative ideas and life-changing campaigns, only to discover that it is really about managing technology and proving everything you do is making the company more than you spend.
And with that pressure to deliver measureable results, it is no wonder there are over 800 vendors in the marketing analytics marketplace.
Today, Proof — a B2B marketing analytics tool — has raised $2 million in funding to help provide marketers with the answers they need. It already stands out from the crowd thanks to two key factors — how it was developed and funded and the way it measures results.
Proof was born from the frustrations and pressures of today’s marketing role while working with the likes of HP, Honeywell, and BMC Software.
“As a CMO and CCO I was constantly under pressure to improve impact,” Mark Stouse, CEO and cofounder at Proof, told me. “When you can’t show that effect, you lose funding, or at the very least you don’t get extra money to spend on the campaigns you are passionate about.”
Or, commonly, you lose your job altogether.
The idea of Proof is simple. It shows B2B managers the results of their marketing expenditure. But the measurement, algorithms, and mathematics behind the scenes are more complex. It goes beyond many of the existing modeling approaches — which tend to rely on sometimes subjective, very occasionally more scientific weighting of channels and touch points — to accurately compute marketing attribution. You won’t find any common last or first-touch attribution here. Proof takes into account time lag, cause and effect, and the ripple effect of your entire array of marketing activities over extended periods of time.
Proof’s unique Correlation Engine offers results that explain the impact marketing campaigns, and other business factors, are having on sales, employee retention, customer awareness, and other key performance indicators, even when causes and their effects are months apart from each other.
And the company has taken a unique approach to the development of the tool too. While the attribution model was created by Stouse and his team, it has been honed by executives at major B2B organizations. In essence, Proof has become powered by the wisdom of crowds.
Interestingly, that same approach has been taken in securing today’s $2 million funding round.
“There are a lot of great VCs out there,” Stouse said. “We chose a different path to raise funds. We wanted to work with the people that helped co-create the tool, a process that has worked extremely well for us.”
This model has allowed Proof to achieve a great deal with a smaller-than-usual team.
“We were trying to develop a lean startup,” Stouse said. “We created a product delivery team made up of major corporate CTOs who were able to invest time to work on this product for options. Many of those involved believe so much in what we’ve built that they have activated their options as part of this round.”
Of course, that could mean almost anything. Options are not exactly a standard unit of measurement, but Stouse is transparent about the way Proof has created its equity share plan.
“There is one class of stock in Proof, and everyone has that same class,” Stouse said. “There’s no artificial control in place, and I think that is very attractive to a lot of the people involved — experienced investors in technology — and they want to be a part of that.”
As a result, Proof has a broad base of shareholders, including The Scibetta Fund, Vaulting Ventures, High West Venture Partners, Lewis Family Enterprises, LDWW Group, KRB Ventures, Webonise Labs, and an array of both current and former senior business leaders from organizations such as Accenture, BMC Software, Concur Technologies, Edelman, Hill & Knowlton, Honeywell, HP, IBM, Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft, Oracle, ServiceNow, Starbucks, and WE Communications.
While Stouse’s approach to B2B marketing analytics and attribution dates back to 2005, Proof was founded in 2015 in New York. The product launched in December 2016, and this round of funding will be used to drive further research and development, as well as support for product marketing and sales. Proof is available now both as a Software-Enabled Service (SeS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
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