Terminus, a B2B account-based marketing software provider, announced last month that the Atlanta-based group raised $1.8 million of seed financing from Hyde Park Venture Partners (HPVP), Knoll Ventures, Arthur Ventures and Atlanta Ventures. Investors in the round included Tim Kopp, managing director of HPVP and former chief marketing officer (CMO) of ExactTarget, as well as David Cummings, founder and former CEO of Pardot.
With current customer roster boasting Dun & Bradstreet, Infer, Influitive, SalesLoft, PGi, Vidyard and Yext, Terminus is on pace to grow more than 2,000 percent by the end of 2015. As they plan out the use of the funding for expansion of its headquarters and addition of employee count to over 50, CEO Eric Spett, an University of Georgia alumnus, talks with Southern/alpha about how Terminus plans to grow with the city that inspired the company’s name.
What keeps you in Atlanta?
For starters, Terminus is the original name for the city of Atlanta! We have a happy home in the Atlanta Tech Village. David Cummings has been an incredible mentor, investor, and advisor for our company. His successful exit with Pardot to ExactTarget and the subsequent acquisition by Salesforce helped to put Atlanta on the map. Outside of that, Atlanta offers great talent, a high quality of life, and an abundance of Chick-fil-A.
Is there an advantage to having a company in the tech sector in Atlanta?
Absolutely. Atlanta has a booming technology community with a large cluster of B2B marketing and sales technology companies such as Pardot, SalesLoft, and Insightpool. There’s a lot of great technical talent coming out of Georgia Tech. While hiring is still competitive, it is nowhere near as difficult as Silicon Valley. We have a huge concentration of Fortune 500 companies which can open big doors for early-stage companies just getting their start.
In your experience, do tech startups in the South get underestimated?
In the past yes, but times are changing quickly. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen many more successful exits such as Pardot to ExactTarget (Salesforce), AirWatch’s acquisition by VMWare in 2014, and Cloud Sherpas recent acquisition by Accenture. We’ve had many startup unicorns ($1B+) build their businesses in Atlanta. We’re starting to get a lot more attention from top-tier venture capitalists and private equity firms.
What do you want others to know about the tech community in Atlanta?
Atlanta is an incredible place to build a business and will soon be a Top 5 hub for startups and technology companies in the country. We’ve seen some amazing exits and the entrepreneurs are sticking around to invest their money back into the Atlanta community. We’ve got all the components for a great technology ecosystem. Thousands of passionate people are working hard to put Atlanta on the map.
What can Southern cities do to attract more investors and become more known as a hub for innovation?
Build great companies then encourage entrepreneurs to stay and invest their money in their city. This has a halo-effect which is very powerful. This is a large reason why Silicon Valley has so many technology companies today. Also, Venture Atlanta, which recently took place in October, is an excellent event to give both early-stage and late-stage technology companies the opportunity to pitch their business to potential investors. Events like this are a great platform to show off the growth and innovation of a city or region.
Do you have advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
1. Ask for what you want without the fear of being told no. The biggest leaps in my journey have come from reaching out to people who were way out of my league. As an example, Terminus is the result of an email I sent to David Cummings. A few weeks after he sold Pardot for $100M, I emailed him and basically said, “I want to be involved with whatever you are doing next.” I’ve had a couple simple experiences like that which have been absolute game-changers.
2. You will fail and need to be able to pick yourself back up. My first startup lasted three years and was a complete failure. I pretty much destroyed myself in the process. It took over a year for me to recover. Failure is something that I now respect because it shows you tried. I look for this passion when hiring, especially hiring for leadership and executives.
My co-founders Eric Vass (CTO) and Sangram Vajre (CMO) are incredible people. There is nobody else that I’d rather share this experience with. Together, we’re building an incredible team of “Terminators” at our company. Our product is going to change the way B2B companies do business. Terminus will be another big Atlanta success story. The result will be more entrepreneurs and more capital that helps Atlanta become a leading hub for technology in this country.