The Docalytics team L-R: Ryan Morlok, Steve Peck, Evan Carothers
On the heels of news that Docalytics was acquired by New York-based Contently, we connected with these three founders to hear more about what’s in store.
How and when did Docalytics begin in the first place?
Evan: It came about as an idea I had working in some different business environments. I realized that B2B marketers that produce content lacked an understanding of how it was performing. From engagement analysis to lead generation, the simple idea was to create something to improve the effectiveness of long form content.
I brought that idea into Startup Weekend Twin Cities 3 where I met Ryan Morlok.
Ryan: I was there to find a project that I could really get behind and saw the potential, so we started making it reality that weekend.
What happened after that?
Evan: We received some validation there, winning the event, and so decided to move forward, forming a company and iterating on the bare bones MVP. Nights and weekends sort of thing for a few months. Then, I met Steve Peck and he expressed an interest in speerheading the sales & marketing efforts. This was right around the time that Minnesota Cup was going on, so we entered that which helped us refine our business plan.
Ryan: We had been working a lot on the product but the business plan side forced us to get real about our go to market strategy.
When did you aquire your first customer?
Evan: We had some beta users on a freemium model and aquired our first paying customer just before we were accepted into gener8tor, in early 2013.
Did you raise more money after gener8tor?
Evan: We raised some after in a convertible note, kind of a rolling close of $530k.
Who was involved?
What happened next?
Evan: We hit the market and iterated, onboarded more customers. Even though we had the funding we continued to operate in a very bootstrapped mentality, which in some parts held us back from scaling as fast as we could have. Easier said than done in retrospect.
Ryan: We went from a self-service model to more of a higher end enterprise sales model.
Evan: That was really where we found a sweet spot.
How would you describe the traction you received?
Evan: it was mixed for a while…peaks and valleys. A lot of learnings and when we started to get things going, is when we came across Contently, which actually was a customer first.
What is Contently all about?
Steve: Technology to help content marketers drive new levels of efficiency around how they create and collaborate on content. Editorial calendars, workflow tools, and a very large network of over 55,000 qualified freelancers.
What was the process like of going from customer to acquirer w/ Contently?
Evan: One value of being a small company for us was that when we were working with them we were able to interface directly and understand their needs deeply.
Steve: It was a discussion that was had pretty early on…there was a clear overlap from an analytics perspective while the document aspect was a hole we identified.
Evan: Contently’s management is very candid and competent, so we were able to have real conversations without worrying a lot. We are fortunate that our board and some investors have deep experience that helped us out a lot around the execution.
What advice would you have for your peers who may be having conversations with a potential acquirer?
Evan: have the conversations earlier than you need to. Not to go out and scream buy me! buy me! – but to think about the long term strategy and options.
Were there other conversations with potential acquirers?
Evan: There’s always conversations, right? Even from day zero it’s possible, but it became obvious that Contently was the right choice for us.
How many employees at the time of purchase?
Evan: just the three of us full time, lots of contractors
What appealed most to you about selling to Contently?
Evan: They are one of few companies in the market that do a good job of making SaaS revenue and positivelty impacting journalism and marketing. They have a vision beyond ‘let’s just build a product we can sell’ . They also want to scale an office in the Midwest because they recognize the opportunity.
Ryan: Working on the engineering side, I can say it makes a lot of sense from the product perspective.
How much did they buy you for?
Evan: Contently decided not to disclose that.
What does it mean going forward for you three and a forthcoming Contently office here?
Evan: we are on board as employees and will be focused on the integration side first and foremost. We are also interested in hiring talented people here.
What does that growth look like in terms of headcount?
Evan: we’re looking at between 15-20 in the next 18 months.
Are you going to stay based in St. Paul then?
Even: The Minnesota office will continue to be, yes.
Is there anything else that you want to add around this?
Evan: No, we’ve touched on the key points!