Terminus, a B2B account-based marketing startup, has been growing at an incredible rate since they launched their product in March of 2015. Since then, the company has raised a $1.8M in seed funds, a Series A of $7.5M in February 2016, then graduated out of the Atlanta Tech Village and moved into the Terminus building, thanks to a growing team of 75+. They are also the only company to attend Venture Atlanta — twice. Let’s just say, they’ve had quite the year.
But how do you stay true to your core values and make sure you’re on the right path to scale your company? Fast growth can sometimes derail plans if you’re not careful, but CEO Eric Spett is ready to tackle this challenge.
Here, Spett talks to Hypepotamus about how they maintain their award-winning work culture, their funding plans, and his best advice for fellow CEOs and tech leaders.
What does Terminus’ road map look like in the midst of all of your success?
It’s been very exciting. The company started with some funding and the name Terminus — original name for the city of Atlanta. It didn’t start with an idea. I was working with David Cummings at the time and he gave me the opportunity to go start another company. I had one back in college, which didn’t work out so well. More or less, we spent the first year, exploring the B2B marketing tech and B2B digital advertising landscape and piecing together a product. Eventually, we put together one that worked and now it’s been growth mode. That was in March 2014. We launched the product in March of 2015 with about a year of learning.
Over the last year and a half, we’ve gone from 0 to 75+ employees. We won the best place to work award recently, which was a huge testament. It’s been fascinating. We are growing and we were in San Francisco last week meeting with investors. We are not fundraising yet but what we realized is that we are a special story. Companies don’t grow as fast as we are growing and with that, comes a lot of challenges. We are hitting a lot of barriers that other companies take many years to get to. Because of the accelerated growth, we are seeing them much, much sooner.
As CEO, how do you manage the challenges of growing so fast?
Surround yourself with good people. We just hired a Chief Product Officer — Bryan Brown. He started one of the first marketing automation companies called Vtrenz. It was acquired by SilverPop and he was VP of Strategy at SilverPop until his position at IBM. I think that’s the best way to manage it, get people that have been there, done that. That’s what I’m really focused on. We have a really good board and investors and a good network surrounding the company. The support system in Atlanta, especially in this type of ecosystem, is really strong.
For me personally, I feel like I’m pretty good at knowing what I don’t know and those blind spots. I work with an executive coach, which is amazing. I do that regularly and it helps quite a bit.
Terminus has a great company culture as shown by recent accolades. How are you implementing this at the company?
It comes naturally with the founders. We are all very people-focused. We have seven core values as a team like fearless communication, trust, transparency, and empathy. We don’t just write them down. We really do emphasize them at every team meeting. We send out weekly emails to the whole company as a big update. We practice what we preach. I think a lot of companies get stuck in the core values, but we have a culture based on those core values and a strategic plan. Every department in the company has a strategic plan and employee success culture is one of them. We take it very seriously and we have metrics around it to make sure that we do team events, team outings, philanthropy, and even swag. We were very intentional about what we wanted our core values to be and just like any other part of the business, we put a plan, metrics and accountability around it.
Terminus is the first company to be at Venture Atlanta twice and you’ve been talking to VCs on the West Coast. What are your future funding plans and your current status?
We’ve been through two rounds of funding. We had a seed round, which David Cummings was a part of. Also in that seed round, we had the CMO of ExactTarget, which acquired Pardot. We recently closed our Series A in February of 2016 for $7 million. We have quite a bit of money left in the bank, which is great even with the aggressive growth. We will raise a Series B and we are targeting that during the first half of 2017, but haven’t put a date on it. It will be between $15-25 million.
How do you hope to leverage those funds for your company?
Hire more great people. At the end of the day, it’s all about people. With a software company, there isn’t that much overhead aside from the office. Mostly, over the next couple of years, it would be a hard focus into product. Our vision has expanded past what we are doing today and to what we’re seeing from a process perspective is that account-based marketing is becoming the norm at every B2B company. But there’s no software layer to support it. What we do today is a part of account-based marketing, but it’s not the end all, be all system of record platform that marketers come into every day and integrate with all of their other pieces of software.
The vision that we have, and the reason why we hired Bryan, is a huge technology challenge, a huge need. A lot of that investment will go into heavy product development while still scaling sales and marketing.
How does Atlanta support your mission here?
One, of course, the name doesn’t hurt. [laughs] We are just naturally aligned with Atlanta. As we get more confident around the city, we’re seeing more and more success stories and more people. Atlanta is a great place to grow a company. In recent meetings with investors in San Francisco, we said, Atlanta is one of our unfair advantages — especially when you’re talking about investments, great engineering schools, cost of living, cost of hiring, etc. This office in San Francisco would be $20 million/year or something along those lines. We are seeing Atlanta emerge and we are in the front of that wave. We are seeing a lot of investors come down here proactively.
Do you have any other advice up-and-coming CEOs and tech leaders?
The biggest thing that I tell people to do is reach out to anyone and everyone. If there’s someone that you want to talk to or that you can learn from, reach out. In many ways, that’s how I ended up with this opportunity. I cold reached out to David Cummings while I was in college. Three years later, I reached out again. Go meet with people. They are going to motivate you, give you inspiration, and spark ideas. Don’t do anything in a vacuum.
Development and transcription by Muriel Vega. Interview by Kiki Roeder. Images provided by Terminus.