Hightouch Series B: What’s Next for Reverse ETL
November 17, 2021
We’re honored to announce that Hightouch has raised $40M. With this latest round of funding, we will grow our team, expand the surface area of what Hightouch does, and deliver the best customer experience humanly possible.
Why We Raised Money Again So Soon
We were not expecting to raise again so soon after announcing our Series A in July. But our amazing customers helped us realize that Reverse ETL is much bigger than we thought, and we’re going to need a larger engineering and product team to truly do it justice.
At least once a week, our customers give us a use case for Hightouch that we didn’t think of, like Blend creating Asana tasks from their data warehouse. And each time that happens, we get inspired to think bigger.
Raising money enables us to be more long-term focused. We now have free reign to go above and beyond - wowing customers, working on cool product ideas, and investing in quality. With this money, we will build new interfaces, developer features, and integrations that enable everyone to use Hightouch.
Today we’re 10 engineers, but we started this year with just 1. Next year, I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish with 20 or more. We want to assemble the best engineering team on the planet, but for us that means finding engineers that are product minded and have a lot of empathy for customers.
We are lucky to partner with ICONIQ for this round. ICONIQ is no stranger to the modern data stack as an early backer of data-focused startups like Snowflake, Fivetran, Collibra, Dataiku, and Monte Carlo. Our new board member Doug Pepper is especially aligned on us being long-term focused and expanding our product surface area.
A Little History
It's hard to believe that less than 2 years ago, we were searching for what to do next after our travel and IoT startups shut down due to COVID.
We then pivoted to building a dashboard to provide a 360 view of customers. But turns out, customers already had a centralized view of their data: their data warehouse! We realized that our customers' main painpoint was getting data out of their warehouse, and using it for more than just dashboards and analytics. They wanted that data in operational tools in order to take action on their data, and this led us to discover Reverse ETL and start Hightouch.
What’s Next: From Replication to Activation
With this new funding, we will be making significant engineering and product investments to expand the surface area of what Hightouch does. Hightouch is more than just a Reverse ETL tool: it is a tool for Data Activation.
Reverse ETL alone is nothing more than just data replication: data comes from your warehouse and is fed into fields in your SaaS tools. Data Activation on the other hand is any operation that takes data at rest and turns it into action. Like sending a coupon to a user that is about to churn. Or automatically assigning an account owner in Salesforce as soon as a user enters their credit card, like our customer Mattermost does. We envision a future where every time you want to take action on data, you use Hightouch.
Our Product Roadmap: Data For All
We want Data Activation to be easy for everyone who uses data at a company, because we believe in the end we're all data practitioners. Some of us may have formal data roles, but everyone from marketing, to sales ops, to finance is now a data person. Our goal is to meet our users where they are, not force them to learn a new language while juggling a job and a life. Every role within a company thinks of Looker when they want to access data - we want them to think of Hightouch when they want to take action on data.
To that end, we have two ways we plan on serving more types of users:
- Make our product accessible to users with different skill sets. For example, people without SQL knowledge can use Hightouch Audiences to visually define the data they need, or access existing models via dbt and Looker.
- Create products and UIs focused on new verticals to make Hightouch useful for marketing, sales, success, and support. One way we do this today is by deepening integrations like Salesforce and Zendesk to support “actions” like assigning account owners and tickets. That way, we can inspire creative workflows for each role in a company.
Value First, The Rest Will Follow
Above all else, we want Hightouch to be a people-first and customer-first company, where everyone genuinely enjoys working together. The main reason we became founders was the ability to choose what we want to work on and who we want to work with.
At Hightouch, our core mantra is: "help customers".
This guiding principle makes it easy for us to frame the decisions we need to make.
As an example, we've made it a company-wide goal to focus on delivering value to customers. We do this by focusing everyone on one common North Star metric: Active Workspaces, which is the number of companies actively using Hightouch to sync data to their tools. The idea is that if everyone focuses on Active Workspaces, eventually those users will convert to customers. Notice how revenue is not the core metric, even our sales quotas are based on the number of customers, not revenue.
To help drive this goal, everyone on our team (ex: engineers, designers, go-to-market folks) talks to customers. We have dedicated Slack channels for all of our customers, regardless of whether they are paying us or not. Everyone told us this wouldn’t scale, and we didn’t care. We’d rather spend the time and money to make it work because we learn so much from customers - they teach us about new use cases for our product every day! In our onboarding emails, we even tell users that we prefer Slack over phone calls.
We treat customers like friends: not as people who buy something from us. Vice versa, customers treat us like friends: not as a vendor selling to them. These relationships are based on trust and they’re the reason our jobs are fun! Some days this could mean showing customers our Reverse ETL platform and helping them use our product, other days it could mean teaching them how to use Zapier or helping them set up a CRM for the first time. Not everyone is ready for Reverse ETL, but because we have conviction that at some point in time everyone will be, we can play the long game, rather than selling on day one.
Contributing to the Data Community
As Reverse ETL is an emerging space, we will continue to invest in more content and educational resources on best practices and use cases. We want to help as many people understand and use Reverse ETL, regardless of whether they build it in-house or end up using Hightouch. We will build our platform in public and explain how we approach technical decisions.
Our growth will enable us to dedicate additional resources to work with the community, whether it’s continuing to contribute to existing open-source projects like Permifrost, or creating new standards and tools that everyone can benefit from.
We hope this transparency into our process and story has been interesting. If there’s one thing we’re proud of, it’s the culture and the team that we’ve assembled.
As founders, we don’t solely define the culture here: it’s owned by everyone who’s part of the team. As we look back, some aspects of the culture that we have grown to love are:
- Help customers: Buying SaaS is boring. When a SaaS company genuinely cares and wants to help customers, it’s like a breath of fresh air - we treat customers the way we’d want them to treat us.
- Take care of each other first, business second: if people around you are happy and doing well, work is more fun, and we’ll be able to take care of the business together
- Win together, lose together: your job is not to do your work, it's to help your team do their work.
- We value impact over experience: anyone can excel here, regardless of where they come from.
We couldn't do this without our amazing team or our customers. Our mission at Hightouch is clear: we want to democratize data for everyone, enabling anyone to take action on data.
With that said, we are hiring! We have over 15 positions open at Hightouch across engineering, design, sales, and marketing. Come get to know us over a cup of tea or visit our office in the Mission in San Francisco! I’m sure by the end of it you’ll see what makes Hightouch special.