Squadzip, a mobile-first software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for productivity and collaboration that applies the ease of use and familiarity of popular social media platforms to a sales and project management context, received an undisclosed amount of funding from corporate venture capital firm Kickstart Ventures and Silicon Valley-based seed-stage investor and innovation platform Plug and Play Tech Center.
Squadzip is the first co-investment between Kickstart Ventures and Plug and Play Tech Center. This also marks the first investment of Plug and Play Tech Center in the Philippines.
Squadzip was inspired by CEO and co-founder Roman Mercado’s own frustrations in using productivity solutions while he was working in enterprise sales for medical, banking, and digital media industries.
In his corporate life, Mercado saw many corporations sink huge amounts of money into enterprise solutions, the implementation of which meant high upfront fees, hardware cost, complex user trainings, and time delays. These solutions ranged from the free to typically expensive legacy enterprise platforms. The situation prompted Mercado to tap colleague and now CTO and co-founder Joaquin Barandino to help build Squadzip, a productivity tool for businesses that allows teams to communicate in real-time and share data without having to endure lengthy forms.
“For our enterprise customers, Squadzip is like their own private company social media platform and wiki. Activities are posted in real time on a live feed which are time- and location-stamped, while business intelligence is captured from each post to be classified and organized easily and in real time into Intel Pages. Also, sales teams involved in specific deals can collaborate and access data from anywhere in the world,” said Mercado.
Mercado and Barandino capitalized on the Filipinos’ proclivity for social media apps in a bid to ensure easy adoption by those assigned to use Squadzip. Instead the traditional task- and form-based paradigm commonly seen in other solutions, they created a hashtagging system called “ziptags” based on natural reporting behavior which allows users to quickly categorize, search, and retrieve data on customer histories, competitors, and service issues as well as added powerful geolocation and timestamp features that allow businesses to know what is going on and where it is happening.
Mercado further shared: “We make it a point to work closely with each client to make sure we remain responsive to actual needs and pain points they go through in their day-to-day operations. Our customers today use Squadzip to locate, monitor, and track sales teams remotely; capture and organize valuable customer data, service issues, and leads seamlessly; and analyze sales funnels, monitor ongoing projects, and track performance. ”
Since July 2014 when Squadzip was adopted by their first paying enterprise client, it is now in smartphones carried by teams traveling to different parts of the world. Squadzip is being applied in various use cases including sales, customer relationship management, and project management.
Enrique Miguel Valles, Mida Food Distributors president and chief operating officer, is an early user of Squadzip. His company signed up after experiencing unending difficulties in monitoring frontline itineraries resulting to lost opportunities and unanswered leads.
“Squadzip helped us implement a quicker response time: rapid deployment of sales reps as soon as needed by clients, better inter-department communication, and a more strategic approach to itinerary planning, all of these resulting to a record-breaking 2nd half of 2014,” Valles stated. Their use of Squadzip resulted to a year-on-year top line sales increase by 20%.
Another enterprise client, Apo Floors, a local manufacturer of vinyl and luxury resilient flooring, is on its 2nd year using Squadzip. Their vice-president and general manager Alfredo Mamonong shared that Squadzip allows them to save information on customers, companies, competitors, products, opportunities, and projects in real-time which become helpful references for decision-making.
Squadzip is, likewise, a perfect fit for companies with teams working in different parts of the country. Maria Ceres Reano, Broadchem Pharmaceuticals head of product research and development, is able to work with her mobile teams while out in the field dealing with agricultural corporations and farms.
"Using Squadzip has allowed Broadchem to remotely monitor and review activities of our territory managers and the status of their on-going promotions and projects,” said Reano.
Kickstart Ventures, Plug and Play Tech Center co-invest
In just 18 months since they started, Squadzip has already gained a portfolio of enterprise users across multiple industries. The funding from Kickstart Ventures and Plug and Play will enable the founders to further improve their product and scale distribution here and abroad.
"CRM remains to be an interesting space for Plug and Play. Particularly those with very creative solutions in enhancing the user experience and interphase, like Squadzip. Its approach to ease of use and intuitive tagging of information I believe is key to its success. Squadzip is the first investment of Plug and Play in the Philippines so we're excited to work with Roman and his team and we hope to accelerate Squadzip's potential globalization, possibly to become the next Salesforce or Sugar,” said Jojo Flores, Co-Founder and Vice-President. Plug and Play engages over 300 corporations in Silicon Valley.
Minette Navarrete, president of Kickstart Ventures, a wholly-owned venture capital subsidiary of Globe Telecom also welcomed the addition of Squadzip in their investment portfolio. “Squadzip is an enterprise solution designed to be frontline-focused, and architected to be enterprise-grade. Frontliners and head office management share the goal of growing their business, delivering great quality service to customers, and sharing information in real-time, frequently over multiple locations,” she said.
She added: “Squadzip’s intuitive user interface makes it easy for distributed teams to collaborate and report information; and the back-end keeps it simple for management to make good decisions and communicate these quickly. This balance makes Squadzip a powerful tool in business development in today’s fast-paced environment.”
With the funding we've received from Kickstart and Plug and Play, Mercado expressed confidence that they are in an even better position to help more businesses serve their customers better and faster while saving them time and money.