TechWire: Windsor Circle CEO's Advice on Raising VC - 1

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This is the fourth of 10 profiles provided by the North Carolina Technology Association highlighting its newest Beacon Award category, Ten Startups to Watch. The companies will be recognized during the organization's November 6th NC Technology Awards Gala.

By Ann Revell-Pechar

Right here in Durham, NC, we have one of the world's leading customer retention software companies. More than 200 global retail brands use its software to drive millions of dollars in additional revenue from their existing customers. 

Three-year-old Windsor Circle, one of the 10 Startups to Watch for 2014, refers to the region as the "Entrepreneurial Hub of the South." Its founders are proud of what the region offers.
“The quality of life in the Triangle, compared to cost of living, is very attractive for folks who are moving here from out-of-state or considering staying after they complete their studies,”says Matt Williamson, co-founder and CEO. “Our emphasis on building a team and nurturing a culture that makes this such a great, fun, and meaningful place to work has been essential to our success thus far.” 

Building strong teams comes from clarifying and reiterating the company’s values at every turn. Sales teams, engineering, marketing and administration all come together around statements to live by, such as "Everyone is in Sales", "Two Ears/One Mouth", "Facts Not Claims", and perhaps a favorite: "Teams Survive Longer than Individuals". 

The company is building a team-centric workplace culture to attract and retain the best and the brightest, including a new benefits plan which includes six weeks of fully paid maternity leave. It wants to build a workplace that supports the whole person and families. So it’s not surprising to hear Williamson point to “the whole team, our investors, all our early customers who trusted us in those early beta-product days; and of course our families” when asked about who should share credit for their success thus far. 

Investors: Talent = Value 

Williamson also believes the region’s vibrant talent pool has given investors the confidence to support startups. 

In fact, when Windsor Circle recently raised its Series B round, each of the investors highlighted the value of the Windsor Circle team in making the decision. This recent $6.25 Million dollar funding came from well-known names like Comcast Ventures, Origin Ventures, Durham-based IDEA Fund Partners and Triangle Angel Partners. 

It is the fourth such round, bringing total investment to $8.5 Million. The company is using that money to define the next generation of marketing technology for retail and e-commerce. The founders expect that a year from now they will be leading major press coverage—maybe even in the Wall Street Journal—because they’ve helped retailers beat at its own game. 

The New World of Customer Retention

The Triangle has its fair share of companies focused on the eCommerce sector, both because this sector is growing so fast (20% year over year) and the technology innovations demand an innovative workforce steeped in both data science and marketing creativity, talents well represented in the Triangle. 

Windsor Circle technologies focus on customer retention—bringing back existing customers by analyzing their buying behaviors and search history and targeting the right messaging to get them to make a purchase. The company has even branded a new category of software called 'Retention Automation', and its objective is to rally marketers to redefine current customers as the next opportunity for revenue and profitability. 

Williamson sees this as an opportunity for mass disruption, for new uses of big data, putting data science to work in order to make customers happy. 
“Frankly, businesses that do not leverage data, automation, and personalization will lose many of the customers they fought so hard to acquire," he says. "Net, the day of customer retention has arrived.” 

And with that day, Windsor Circle.

For the full scoop on Windsor Circle's founding, funding and strategy, check out our recent Founders Series interview with Williamson and cofounder Brad McGinity: