Sequoia leads $6 million funding in web optimisation provider Zarget

Focussed business software startups in India remain attractive even as investors turn circumspect

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Zarget co-founders chief product officer Naveen Venkat, CEO Arvind Parthiban and CTO Santhosh Kumar say they’e built the first Chrome plugin to help marketers tweak their ads on the go within the browser


Zarget, an Indian startup that helps business customers get more out of their online marketing spending and website traffic, has raised $6 million in funding, the company said in a press release on Thursday. The investment is led by marquee Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, and existing investors Matrix Partners, which backs startups from seed to growth stage. Accel Partners has also invested in the round. Zarget will use the money to develop its technology further and add customers.

The investment reflects investors’ preference for startups solving important problems for business customers—versus consumer-oriented products, which are yet to mature in India’s nascent startup scene. Chennai’s Freshdesk, which makes internet-based customer management software, recently raised an additional $55 million—also from investors, including Sequoia and Accel.

“Zarget has an exceptionally talented team of product engineers who’ve spent the past 10 years developing customer relationship management business automation software that’s already in use by leading enterprises today,” Shailesh Lakhani, managing director at Sequoia India, said in the press release. “We’re excited to back a team with such proven capabilities and believe their marketing platform will become an essential fixture within the SMB marketplace for many years to come.”

Venture investment in India rebounded in the three months ended September 30, 2016, versus the previous quarter, but “investment dollars are still more than 75 percent below the peak experienced in the third quarter of the calendar year 2015,” research firm CB Insights and consultancy KPMG said in their latest report on global VC investment trends, released in October. “Investors have focussed on companies with clear business models and greater profitability potential,” CB Insights and KPMG say in the report.

"Today, marketers are swamped with several fragmented optimisation solutions with poor integration capabilities,” Tarun Davda, managing director at Matrix India, said in the release. Zarget’s platform “provides small-and-medium businesses a comprehensive and affordable way to scale conversions with a superior customer experience… we’ve been very impressed by the traction they've gathered so far.”

Zarget, based in Chennai and which counts Freshdesk’s founder Girish Mathrubhootam as an investor, provides a marketing automation platform. Customers, including Landesk in the US, BizTalk360 in the UK, and Buscape in Brazil, use Zarget’s platform to improve the efficacy of their online marketing on the go, with little or no need for involved coding.

Zarget says it offers capabilities, including A/B testing, dynamic heatmaps, funnel analysis, form analytics, user polls and feedback at a tenth of the cost of conventional options that would require help from programmers—to tweak the positioning of an ad, for instance.

Customers also get access to what Zarget says is the industry’s first Chrome plugin that lets them make changes instantly from within the browser. This eliminates the kind of complexity and costs that are typically only available for large enterprise teams. Starting as low as 50 cents per day, any small business owner or digital marketer can instantly turn their website into a visualisation dashboard for marketing automation, optimisation and testing, and gather actionable insights needed to make critical improvements on the fly.

"Just a few years ago, I was a marketer facing the same challenges affecting marketers today–desperate to improve my campaigns in real-time, but without the tools, IT skills, or budget to make it happen efficiently. Our aim is to make it easy and affordable for any person or business to access the solutions they need to increase engagement and drive revenue across their websites,” Arvind Parthiban, co-founder and CEO of Zarget, said in the release.

Parthiban and co-founders Naveen Venkat and Santhosh Kumar spent a decade at Zoho building business productivity tools and customer relationship management software. They have now raised $7.5 million to date.  

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