While the phrase “rocket ship growth” is thrown around frequently by startups, few early-stage ventures have the credentials to back up such claims. Atlanta-based Saleo looks to be one that can.
In less than eight months, Saleo has grown an impressive list of B2B customers like Salesloft, Terminus, Drift, Clari, and Outreach. Over that same time, the team has secured its pre-seed round, scaled headcount from 3 to 22, and saw 143% quarter-over-quarter growth between Q2 and Q3 last year alone. It’s ARR puts Saleo in the rarified top 1% of all startups.
“It’s been neat to see the reaction in the market. I thought it would be something special, so to get this validation and growth has been awesome,” Saleo co-founder and CEO Justin McDonald told Hypepotamus. “I hate to use the cliche term rocket ship because I think it’s overused for a lot of startups…but I’ve never been a part of a startup that has this type of traction.”
Companies have been flocking to the Saleo platform to help improve their cumbersome sales demo process. That space, McDonald said, has been ripe for innovation for some time.
Saleo looks to help all those associated with creating a successful demo — including sales, product, and engineering teams. Customers using Saleo can help decrease the time and development effort associated with these important demos while creating a more personalized experience for each potential customer.
“[Sales engineers] work with software sales, account executives, and other go-to-market teams to help present the software technology to their customers. And it’s really difficult to do well,” since a development environment needs to be highly curated to each industry vertical they are selling into, said McDonald. “Sales demos are something almost every single software company struggles with.”
McDonald and his co-founder Daniel Hellerman spent nights and weekends over the course of 2021 on Saleo’s MVP and Beta. The team officially launched in May of 2022 with the announcement of a $1.5 million round.
Saleo’s cap table reads a bit like a “who’s who” of the B2B software world. On top of lead investor Tech Square Ventures, individuals Kyle Porter, Rob Forman, Tim Kopp, and Jon Hallett are also backing the startup.
The capital has gone towards engineering, product development, and customer acquisition efforts, McDonald told Hypepotamus.
Even as a remote-first company, upwards of 70% of Saleo’s new hires have been in the Metro Atlanta area, a testament to the city’s impressive B2B tech talent pool.
Lessons learned the second time around
McDonald has been in the B2B SaaS space since 2005 and is well aware of the challenges software teams face during the sales demo process.
His first startup, the conversational marketing tool RambleChat, was acquired by Atlanta-based SaaS company Terminus in spring of 2020. He went on to lead multiple product lines as a Senior VP and General Manager at Terminus until leaving to pursue Saleo full-time in 2022. RambleChat is now fully integrated into Terminus platform and helps B2B marketers create more engagement with potential customers.
Reflecting back at his time building RambleChat, McDonald told Hypepotamus that he learned important lessons around capital formation, investor relations, and developing strong go-to-market strategies in the B2B space. Those are lessons he’s bringing into his second turn in the CEO seat at a growing startup.
“I think one of the big lessons learned from the RambleChat days was that [early on], we tried to be too many things to too many people,” he told Hypepotamus.
Growing a B2B startup in 2023 will certainly look different than it did when McDonald was building RambleChat between 2018 and 2020. Macroeconomic conditions have already impacted large software firms that would be likely customers for Saleo. But McDonald is up for the challenge, saying that while there has been some deal elongation, they have yet to see a true slowdown in terms of customer growth.
“We’re solving a very deep problem. Saleo helps customers do more with less, which is what software is all about. [Customers] are battening down the hatches or tightening spending,” added McDonald. “Our philosophy isn’t growth at all costs. We want to support our customers above everything.”