Start-Ups

6Sense decloaks to launch 'predictive intelligence engine' and raise $12 million

After operating in stealth for a year, B2B start 6Sense has officially launched. Customers include NetApp, Cisco, and other heavyweights, but will it be enough to change the game in big data?

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Image: 6Sense

Large and complex data sets can provide valuable insight into what moves and shakes your organization or business. Companies can use big data to spot patterns and trends, improve their marketing campaigns, and recognize potential sales opportunities.

On Monday, B2B startup 6Sense announced that it is officially coming out of stealth to focus on the latter — using big data to help customers predict potential buyers at different stages of the sales process. 6Sense uses what it calls a "predictive intelligence engine" to predict with up to 80% accuracy buyers at different points of a sale.

"We've been, basically, in stealth mode for a year. And, the reason for that was I didn't want to come out talking about something as a concept, I wanted to have some really good results on our platform and have a good list of customers with proven data points before we came forward," 6Sense CEO Amanda Kahlow said.

In addition to coming out of stealth, the company also announced their $12 million Series A round which was led by Venrock and Battery Ventures, with partners from both firms joining the company's board. According to a press release, the company will use the funding to improve its product and beef up its marketing efforts.

6Sense operated in stealth for the last year, building out the product and growing their customer base. Currently, their customer list includes: NetApp, Cisco, CBS Interactive (TechRepublic's parent company), Xactly, and Blue Jeans.

6Sense is focused specifically on sales and marketing organizations and it uses behavioral data and machine-learning to predict potential buyers. According to Kahlow, the company's goal is to "help our customers spend their money most efficiently to reach buyers when they are truly in the market to buy; and not just spray and pray, hoping to hit those buyers when they're out there doing their research. "

Once you give 6Sense authentication to your existing sales and marketing tools, such as Salesforce and Marketo, and your web data and they tie that into third-party data to determine behavior patterns. According to Kahlow, 60 to 90 percent of purchasing decisions happen before they get into sales and marketing automation tools. So, 6Sense hopes to show you what products customers are going to buy and when they're going to buy them.

According to Kahlow, one customer reported $300 million in new business closed as a result of using 6Sense.

Roger Lee, a general partner at Battery Ventures who invested in 6Sense, said that much of the value of 6Sense has to do with the data they provide on what stage of the buying cycle potential leads occupy.

"Big data is upending almost every industry, and 6Sense is offering customers extremely insightful data very early in the sales cycle, when it's potentially the most valuable," Lee said. "This makes companies using that data smarter, and could allow 6Sense to insert itself as a valuable new player in the sales funnel. We are thrilled to be partnering with the company."

Essentially, you give 6Sense access to your data and they combine it with their data and algorithms and tell you who is interested in your products. The product is unique, and it has a unique startup story to go with it.

Kahlow first came across the idea for 6Sense when she was developing a system for Cisco as a consultant. Once she realized that she could scale the system and make it available to other companies, she transferred the IP and decided to form 6Sense.

The product was built out of a specific business need. The stereotypical roles were reversed as Kahlow already had a business-tested product and a market need, but she didn't have the technology to build out the product.

"We had a proven business case and market validation, but we didn't have the technology and the backend. A lot of these companies are really smart technology companies looking for a business case. We were the opposite, we had proven that this works and we had proven that the market is receptive to this, and we were looking for that technical solution."

By some chance of fate she was introduced to the then Y Combinator-backed Grep Data. The founders of Grep Data decided to dissolve their company and come on board as the technical co-founders of 6Sense, and the company was born. Technically it was an acquisition, but she likes to think of it as a merger, as the two parties came together to make this work.

While the goal is to help companies get the most out of their marketing department, Kahlow is hopeful that it will help shed light on the underlying value of marketing and reverse the roles of sales and marketing teams.

"This will enable us to live in a world where sales reports to marketing," Kahlow said.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is News Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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