Today, Next Coast Ventures is proud to announce that we have led the $10M Series B round in Missoula-based Submittable, an application management platform. This is a pretty big deal for us and the Montana startup ecosystem -- this funding is one of the top-10 largest Series B rounds in the state’s history.
Michael Fitzgerald, Submittable’s co-founder and CEO, has built a really intelligent company with market-leading technology, and has surrounded himself with an incredibly strong team of executives. We are always first and foremost looking for the very best entrepreneurs building disruptive businesses in big markets, and Michael and his team couldn't fit the bill any better.
Submittable hits at the very heart of what is happening on the Next Coast of innovation: a graduate of Y Combinator with smart, geographically diverse early investors (True Ventures, Next Frontier Capital and Flywheel Ventures) that is building a multi-use SaaS product while keeping its employees and their quality of life top of mind. Here are just some of the ways that Submittable is building a company and a brand that prides itself on recruiting and retaining the best talent:
- 10% of its employees have relocated from coastal markets to work at the headquarters, citing a high quality of life
- Over 15% of employees have become first-time home buyers since starting at the company and more than a third walk or bike to work every day
- The company is opening a privately run in-office childcare center for employees
- Employees are also given annual personal development stipends, discounted health memberships and sabbatical opportunities for long-time employees
The picturesque headquarters, employment perks and dynamite leadership team aside, what exactly does Submittable do?
Submittable is a ‘CRM for documents’ allowing organizations of all sizes to accept, review, collaborate and rank thousands of submissions efficiently. These submissions can be from almost any industry including corporate giving, grants, contests and publishing. With the flexibility of its software, Submittable has expanded its platform offerings across 16 unique solutions and use cases, with the potential to further disrupt the billions spent on application submission management. But the submission platform isn’t the only reason it’s such a great product. Submittable ALSO has AI-enabled matching technology that allows users to actually match these submissions to appropriate opportunities in its marketplace -- empowering customers to match a submission in days instead of weeks. Two business models with one SaaS solution applicable to almost any industry. This is what we call nirvana.
The platform currently boasts over 10k organizations using the platform with nearly three million users submitting over 10 million submissions from over 150+ countries. So yeah, it’s a huge market and it’s only growing. Current customers include AT&T, NBC, HBO, ESPN, NPR, Conde Nast, The New Yorker, Harvard, MIT, TEDx, National Geographic and thousands of others...just to name a few.
And they are really stepping on the gas: The company plans to double its staff at its Mountain-based headquarters in the next year, hiring seven people a month through 2020. That is a growth rate typically seen with startups on the coasts, but it’s happening in a city that sits at the convergence of five mountain ranges and boasts over 5,000 acres of conserved open space. This is exactly what we mean when we say the Next Coast of innovation is here in these non-coastal markets -- and shows no signs of slowing down. Our co-founder Michael Smerklo, formerly a CEO of a fast-growing SaaS company, will be joining the board as part of our investment.
Our excitement about Submittable wasn’t just about the great product they had developed or their emphasis on healthy company culture. The investment opportunity was also right in the intersection of two of our investment themes: marketplaces making business models more efficient and software version 3.0. We believe that the digital renaissance has catalyzed a proliferation and dispersal of buyers and sellers, creating more options for applicants and new targets for companies. Marketplaces create growth opportunities for just about every industry and Submittable’s marketplace is a perfect example of that connectivity, matching millions of applications with opportunities in over 150 countries. We also believe that the power of AI and machine learning is completely breaking the mold of what traditional enterprise applications have to offer. Submittable’s dual solutions -- the submission management AND the matching marketplace -- are a prime example of that.
But, most importantly to us and our founding mission, this opportunity was a great fit for our ‘built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs’ motto. We look to find the very best entrepreneurs who are building disruptive business in huge markets and try and help them in any way we can. Michael truly fits the model of one of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the market and a true pioneer of the Mountain entrepreneurial ecosystem. He and his team have worked tirelessly to build a great company the old-fashioned way: by maniacal focus on the customer. At Next Coast, we look to help our entrepreneurs just like this with every tool at our disposal – and we are proud to have been selected to partner with Michael and the Submittable team for the next phase of their journey.