France’s Sendinblue, an all-in-one digital marketing platform, raises $160M

As more companies and brands put the internet at the core of how they run their businesses these days, it’s giving a strong push to the growth of startups that are building tools to help them. In the latest development, Sendinblue, an eight-year-old French startup that has built a platform to help small and medium organizations run all of their marketing — from email, SMS and chat marketing through to automation services, Facebook ads and retargeting — has picked up $160 million in funding.

Bridgepoint, Bpifrance, Blackrock, and previous investor Partech (which led Sendinblue’s $35 million in Series A in 2017) all invested in the round.

The money will be used to help the company build out its presence in North America — where it grew 100% last year — and to continue to add more tools to the mix, both organically and by positioning itself as a consolidator, acquiring smaller marketing tech startups. The company is also building CRM tools and other adjacent areas in the SMB back office so you can see how it might evolve. It’s profitable and is active already in some 60 countries with some 180,000 customers on its books.

The huge funding, for a startup that may not have been on many people’s radar — you could say Sendinblue has come out of the blue — is a sign of the times.

SMBs (like retailers and brands doubling down on e-commerce) have long used the internet for marketing, but the recent pandemic, with its social distancing measures, has highlighted just how many people are spending time (and spending money) online, which has led to a boost in how organizations are using the internet to communicate with customers.

“The whole covid pandemic has accelerated our business,” said Steffen Schebesta, who runs the company’s North American operations (and joined the company when his startup, Newsletter2Go, was acquired several years ago). “We’ve seen a lot of SMBs finding that they need to digitize in order to survive.”

It’s also notable that it’s a French startup raising a large growth round: it’s a signal of how companies from the country are scaling, filling out a mission that French President Emmanuel Macron set out to see the country produce (and invest in) more unicorns.

Sendinblue’s funding news comes on the heels of another French martech company, Sarbacane, also raising a lot of money in recent weeks (France has been known for adtech, but seems that it also has a strong line in marketing tech). Further afield, we’ve seen a number of other startups in the space raising significant rounds this year, including Yotpo, Movable Ink, Adverity, and more.

There seems to be room for all of these, and more. Schebesta described a typical customer for Sendinblue — whose primary goal is to “enable small and medium businesses to be on equal footing with bigger companies in terms of the tools they can use, having access to everything in one platform at an affordable price — as one that may have “outgrown” Mailchimp with a need for more tools and more sophistication. 

While the company’s bread and butter and focus will always be SMBs, in the meantime it’s also picked up a number of high-profile and high-end customers too, including Louis Vuitton, the candy giant Haribo, Fujitsu, Amnesty International and Greenpeace. 

“Sendinblue is positioned in a growing market as more and more SMBs are going digital, especially in the past few months of lockdown,” said Olivier Nemsguern, Partner at Bridgepoint, in a statement. “We seek investments that meet a critical market need. Sendinblue is the perfect example of a company that will make an impact.”

“We have invested in Sendinblue because the company offers innovative solutions for SMBs and has a strong track record of achieving high growth in the U.S. and European market,” added Louis Molis, investment director at Bpifrance. “We’ve seen that Sendinblue’s value is globally extensible and will increase in importance as integrated marketing becomes more important.”

“Sendinblue has quickly become the leading digital-marketing platform for SMBs,” said Bruno Crémel, General Partner at Partech. “As demand for all in one platforms increases, Sendinblue has a unique ability to succeed. We are thrilled to continue to support Sendinblue as the company accelerates its next phase of international growth.”

eFounders unveils its next batch of enterprise SaaS startups

Since 2011, European startup studio eFounders has launched 27 companies with a focus on software-as-a-service companies trying to improve the way we work. Some of them have been quite successful, such as Front and Aircall.

And the company is working on its next batch of startups. “We’re particularly inspired by the new wave of productivity tools, that is ever more collaborative and flexible,” eFounders co-founder Thibaud Elziere said in a statement

In exchange for financial and human resources, eFounders keeps a significant stake in its startups. Ideally, startups raise a seed round and take off on their own after a year or two.

Here’s what’s coming up from eFounders.

Canyon

Canyon is a product for legal teams that want to ditch Word, PDF documents and emails. It starts with a central hub to hold all your drafts and documents. This way, you can track progress, get the latest document version and see the context around a document. Given that it is tailored for legal teams, it should work a bit better than a shared Dropbox folder.

You can create templates to reuse them later, see related emails directly in Canyon’s interface and invite other people so that they can have a look at what you’ve been working on.

Image Credits: Canyon

Kairn

Kairn is a task manager that tries to get out of the way as much as possible. When you’re working on your computer, you can add tasks directly from the app that you’re already using.

For instance, you can imagine adding a task by starring an email conversation in Gmail, forwarding a message to a WhatsApp bot or starring a message in Slack. There’s also a quick add window that you can trigger with a keyboard shortcut.

Read my full article on Kairn:

Image Credits: Kairn

Crew

Crew is focused on new hires and job applications. Given that many companies are actively looking for interesting candidates, Crew isn’t just a way to passively collect applications.

It lets you create automated workflows and handle everything you’d expect from a recruitment platform.

Image Credits: Crew

Collective

Collective is a product for freelancers who want to work together and form groups. It should make it easier to send a contract to a client that involves multiple freelancers working on the contract. Collective will make it easier to remain legally compliant.