Sahil Mansuri, a sales guy, doesn’t want his industry to be defined by sales guys. The founder began Bravado in 2017 to see what happens when you bring together sales professionals into an online community for trading notes, horror stories and secrets. It took the startup four years to hit 10,000 users, and then quickly hit 200,000 members just 12 months after the milestone.
The strength of the platform, in his eyes, is that it’s not trying to answer sales challenges with software. Instead of building yet another sales enablement tool, it is building a community where people can exchange information and actually train. Think less optimization on how many deals can get done in a day and more about transparency on pay rates in the industry.
“You show up, you get a quota, you get a leadlist and a pat on the shoulder and get told to figure it out,” Mansuri said. “That’s literally how you get training.”
“I didn’t want to make sales people better at their job, I wanted to uplift the entire profession and change the ways it was perceived and the way it’s done,” he said. Today, the company has three main products: a private community about advice, a seller portfolio to showcase work like top deals, and, most recently, a marketplace to find next jobs and compare compensation.
To grow its resources both internally and externally, Bravado tells US News Mail Tech that it has raised a $26 million Series B led by Tiger Global and with participation from 250 angels including Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Lenny Rachitsky, Packy McCormick and Sahil Bloom. Existing investors Redpoint Ventures, XYZ Ventures, Freestyle Capital and Precursor all participated, as well.
The round is notable for two reasons: Bravado’s cap table and lead investor. Let’s start with the former: Since the startup’s goal is to diversify sales and get a wider range of people thriving within the profession, it’s smart that the startup took money from over 100 first-time angel investors who are women or people of color.
Now, let’s address the Tiger in the room. The fresh influx comes at a time when startups are reorienting themselves amid the market downturn. Raising a next round isn’t a given, and for those lucky to land a term sheet, it likely won’t be on the same terms that they could have gotten even just a few months ago. Some founders say that they accepted valuations at a discount of up to 50%.
While Mansuri declined to provide Bravado’s specific valuation for this round, he said that he went with Tiger Global even though it was a 20% lower valuation offer compared to other term sheets being offered by “top-tier VCs.” (If anyone else did the same, I want to know, so do tell).
Bravado’s new funding and acquisition comes just months after the years-old company made its first dollar of revenue. At the end of 2021, Bravado launched its job marketplace to help enterprise companies land new talent. The startup tells me that it made its first acquisition in a deal to buy CompGauge, a platform that provides salary data to sales professionals. It will add that insight to its marketplace product so people don’t only discover new gigs but also decide if that starting offer is any good.
Bravado’s marketplace helps it make 20% of base salary per hire it helps get a job and charges the 30,000 employers a platform fee to access the technology. This model in mind, the startup scaled from $0 to $4 million in annual recurring revenue in the first seven months, a trajectory that Mansuri said came from Bravado spending years building up a free user base of sales folks.
The startup is not yet profitable.
Bravado is significantly reliant on its marketplace for monetization, which could expose it to some risk amid the market downturn. In the early wave of COVID-19 tech layoffs, sales and customer success roles were the most affected by reductions. A lack of demand means a lack of need for salespeople to answer that demand.
Mansuri thinks that, as revenue becomes more of a priority, sales roles will remain important. “There’s basically two really important jobs in any company, which is that you either build the product or you sell the product,” he added.