Alexa Grabell was running sales strategy for a billion-dollar company when she grew frustrated by the lack of tools available to answer company leadership’s questions about how customers were interacting with their product.
“I was building these hacky solutions,” she says. “The tools did half the job.”
Out of this frustration grew Pocus, a startup founded by Grabell and Isaac Pohl-Zaretsky. Pocus, which was on Forbes’ Cloud 100 Rising Stars List last year, announced $23 million in seed and Series A funding on Wednesday. Founders Grabell and Pohl-Zaretsky, who serve as CEO and CTO of the startup, respectively, are Forbes 30 Under 30 enterprise technology alums for 2022. The company declined to share its valuation.
“Valuable data about how users interact with a product lives in other places like a data warehouse where sales people can’t get access,” Grabell says. It’s time-intensive for engineers to transform the data into a form that is useful to the rest of the team, she emphasizes. “That’s especially true for sales and marketing departments.”
Pocus aims to organize and present companies’ product data in a way that can help the companies identify new revenue opportunities with less time and no coding. They take raw product data and present it back to the company in a dashboard that team members can personalize to show the metrics they want to see.
Coatue general partner Andy Chen says he is seeing an increase in modern tech companies that adopt a business model where customers interact with a product before they interact with a salesperson. The approach is fairly new but has spread rapidly — OpenView, a VC firm which claims it coined the term “product-led growth” in 2016, stated that nearly every IPO in 2021 mentioned the term in its S-1 filing.
Pocus’ product fits into a future dominated by companies that use this product-led business model, because running a business in this way creates large amounts of product data that is often unwieldy to sort through and inaccessible to non-technical teams.
The idea for Pocus stemmed from Grabell’s time leading sales strategy and operations at AI company Dataminr, where Grabell worked from 2017 to 2019. At Dataminr, Grabell frequently got requests from the company’s sales team and leadership for data on how customers were engaging with Dataminr’s product. But she quickly found that she didn’t have the tools to make that happen and had to create complex workarounds.
“That’s what drove me to realize that there is this need to bridge the gap between non-technical teams and the access to data that technical teams have,” Grabell says.
Two years later, in April 2021, Grabell and Pohl-Zarensky founded Pocus, while Grabell was in her last semester at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Not long afterward, Pocus garnered the support of more than a dozen angel investors — including top executives at Clickhouse, Notion, Zapier and Datadog — and raised its seed round that June. Now, although its product is still in a trial phase, Pocus has 13 employees and dozens of software startups as customers.
Grabell declined to share Pocus’ current revenue but said it was charging customers anywhere from $500 to $10,000 per month, depending on the number of users or data being piped into Pocus.
According to her, Pocus’ biggest competition is companies building tools in-house, although similar product-led sales startups exist: Endgame, which announced Series B funding in February, and Calixo, which raised a Series A round in November.
Hundreds of companies sit on Pocus’ waitlist, according to Grabell. With the new funding, Pocus aims to continue building out its product to “make sure that we’re getting everything perfectly right before opening up the entire waitlist.”
The company did not share a timeline for doing so, but Grabell talked about hiring as a central way to expand Pocus’ scope and capacity. In addition to general hiring, Grabell wants to expand the group of people that finds Pocus’ product useful — from “primarily salespeople” to every go-to-market team, which includes marketing, customer success and solutions engineering. Doing so would require more hiring on the product and engineering side, Grabell says.
“Customers can use Pocus as a holistic view into all their [product] data, rather than checking a bunch of different tools and getting on the data team backlog and working with engineers,” Grabell says. “And I think that can help all companies.”