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"In Croatia and Central Europe, our access to fund- ing was close to none. We were forced to bootstrap, and that forced us to do things differently — to think about our bottom line, about cash, about income from customers. I would give that advice to any company. Even if you raise money, from day one you should be focused on cash coming from customers. That's the healthiest cash there is," says Kovac. Repsly didn't need to raise money to keep the lights on thanks to its scrappy startup mentality. Kovac estimates he spent hundreds of hours with his co-founder between 2008 and 2010 sitting next to their customers, the field reps who were using the product, and trying to understand their pain. Today, every new hire at Repsly has to spend time in the field with customers. "Sales, support, and customer service people are in touch with customers daily. That is a given," says Kovac. "But at most software companies, developers are looking only at screens and code itself. The prod- uct becomes better once developers spend some time with end users, so they really understand what it feels like to use the product. In our case, we are not building software for other develop- ers. We are building software for people who are doing their job in the field, so we need to spend time in the field to understand our product." By 2014, Repsly's product was working well, but it needed an injection of cash to accelerate and avoid the risk of competition catching up. "The idea was not to get just any money from any investor. We wanted to raise smart money," says Kovac. He wanted to ensure any money raised would also come with connections and potential introductions to future customers. For example, Repsly's first round of capital in 2014 came from a somewhat nontraditional partner in First Bev- erage Group, a venture capital firm that invests in beverage brands. Since Repsly targets the bev- erage industry, this partnership helped improve its brand standing in that vertical. Repsly is already cash flow positive, and it will be using its latest round of funding to grow its executive team. Kovac explains, "We measure everything, almost to the point of knowing when our prospects and site visitors and customers breathe in and breathe out. It helps us under- stand where we have friction." Identifying that friction helped Repsly map out a hiring sequence for VPs of engineering, marketing, customer suc- cess, and finance. Kovac is confident the experi- ence these executives bring will help the compa- ny continue growing by triple digits. S When Marko Kovac was approached by L'Oreal in 2008 to quote a solution for last mile distribution challenges in Central Europe, his proposal came in at roughly 30 times the allocated budget. That could have been the end of what is now Repsly, an SaaS platform for field sales teams in the food, beverage, and retail markets with a 100 percent growth rate for three consecutive years. Back in 2008, Kovac was living in Croatia, his birthplace, and was running his own consultancy. He real- ized there was a demand for cloud-based distri- bution software. Kovac convinced L'Oreal to let him build and own the solution with the promise it would be his first customer. The first version of the software was live within a few months. The product wasn't exactly on a rocket ship in the first few years. Kovac was still selling the software under the umbrella of his consulting business until 2010, when Repsly was officially founded. Before that, the product was spread- ing slowly to brands across Europe, mostly through referrals. The original business plan didn't even include a direct sales model. The early team of five employees knew they needed an online solution, a more appealing user inter- face, and a simplified trial onboarding process. All of these were rolled out at the end of 2011, and by early 2012 Repsly started to gain glob- al traction. By then, Kovac knew the company had to look to the U.S. for growth. Funding in Central Europe is scare, and he wanted to learn from other like-minded entrepreneurs and in- vestors. This move to the U.S. in 2012 paid off. Repsly, headquartered in Boston, now has 42 employees and announced a $1.6 million seed investment in July 2017. Repsly's software is currently sold in 70 plus countries and is used by 900 plus companies. Vital Statistics MARKO KOVAC Co-Founder & CEO Finances Total Capital Raised $3.77 M Revenue Growth Rate 100% (3 Consecutive Years) 42 Employees Headquarters Boston, MA Year Founded 2010 Latest Updates July 2017: Repsly announced a $1.6 million seed round led by LaunchPad Venture Group Repsly Moving its headquarters to the U.S. and operating with a scrappy startup mentality before seeking outside funding have positioned this SaaS provider to continue its triple-digit growth. A B B Y S O R E N S E N Executive Editor @AbbySorensen_ COMPANIES TO WATCH Index By A. Sorensen REPSLY SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 11

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