(this article originally appeared in TechCrunch and was written by Alex Wilhelm)
This morning Creatio, a Boston-based software company, announced that it has raised $68 million. Volition Capital, a growth-equity fund, led the round. The deal was a minority investment in the startup.
The deal is notable not merely thanks to its sheer size, but because up until today Creatio had bootstrapped. That’s according to founder and CEO Katherine Kostereva, with whom TechCrunch caught up with last week regarding the investment.
Per Kostereva, her company’s low-code platform helps other companies automate business processes. Creatio’s competitive edge, she said, comes in part from how quickly it can help companies automate; the faster that companies can get from a low-code platform to live apps matters.
Creatio also has a genre focus, namely that it touts its platform’s ability to help automate work in the CRM space — think marketing and sales-related tasks. But its crowning “jewel,” Kostereva said, is Creatio’s underlying low-code automation platform.
The low-code world that Creatio competes in is a broad space that is seeing active investment from the very-early to the very-late stage. For example, last month TechCrunch covered no-code-focused Stacker’s $1.7 million round. And earlier this month TechCrunch wrote about low-code-focused OutSystems’ $150 million raise at a $9.5 billion valuation.
To see another low-code company raise a big check was therefore not too surprising.
TechCrunch was curious where the company and its founder came down on the concept of low-code versus no-code, a topic that is always good to ask players in either space. Kostereva highlighted the importance of citizen developers, folks who can use drag-and-drop interfaces to create apps but who are less adept with code. But she added that with today’s no-code tools one can only build simple things. Creatio, she continued, is more focused on the mid-market and enterprise. As such, it’s just not possible for Creatio to go no-code today. But, her view did appear to be that citizen devs should be able to do more and more in time without code.
It’s a fair perspective, and an encouraging one. The more that folks can do sans code, the more power that can shift into the hands of business orgs that traditionally had to depend on other departments for dev lift.
Back to the money side of things; Creatio has historically targeted breakeven financial results, per its CEO. That means it reinvested in itself as it grew, an arrangement that made us curious as to why the company would raise capital now; why change up a working formula?
In short the company was getting itself ready to accelerate, according to its founder. Kostereva said that she wanted Creatio to have “world-class” numbers for metrics like net retention, revenue growth and net promoter score before it took on external funds.
Was the wait worth it? The company’s net retention was 122% last year, and its NPS score is 34, she disclosed. On the growth side of things, Kostereva said that her company started off doubling and tripling and is still close to doubling. Our read of her comments is that Creatio is probably growing its ARR in the high double digits today.
The company wants to use its capital to invest in sales and marketing to help spread the the word about its business, invest in its partner program, a key growth mechanism, and R&D, it said. So, a little bit of everything.
TechCrunch has recently noticed just how big the software world really is, indexing off the fast that there is enough room for a host of OKR-focused startups to grow and raise external capital without weeding out weaker players. Given how many business processes there are in the world to automate, it may be that Creatio and other low-code platforms that want to help other companies accelerate will enjoy similar market dynamics. Investors, at least, are betting like that’s the case.
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