Kabir Shahani and Derek Slager already have one big success under their belts, selling Seattle-based healthcare marketing startup Appature to IMS Health in 2013 for a significant return.
Now, the entrepreneurial duo is hoping to do it again. This time, just on a bigger scale.
Shahani and Slager recently formed a new marketing technology startup called Amperity, and they just pulled in $9 million in funding to get the young company off the ground, GeekWire has learned.
A who’s who of angel and venture investors are lining up behind Amperity — hoping that they can capture lightning in a bottle a second time with Shahani and Slager.
Madrona Venture Group led the $9 million round, with Matt McIlwain of Madrona taking a board seat. It’s worth noting that Madrona participated in the initial venture round for Appature in 2009, and presumably made a healthy return when the company sold for what was rumored to be more than $100 million.
Other investors include legendary NFL quarterback and Liquid 2 Ventures founder Joe Montana; Founders’ Co-op partner Chris DeVore; former Microsoft corporate vice president S. Somasegar; Concur co-founder Rajeev Singh; former drugstore.com CEO Dawn LePore; Isilon Systems founder Sujal Patel; and former ExactTarget chief marketing officer Tim Kopp who now is a partner at Hyde Park Ventures.
In an email to GeekWire, Shahani said that they are “totally jacked up” to once again build a startup in the marketing technology space, an area they’ve worked in for more than eight years.
“It’s a segment of enterprise software that is genuinely very exciting and constantly evolving,” said Shahani. “I think when anyone spends time around a specific set of customers/users and a specific set of problems, you get context at a level so deep that it takes a little time to realize the opportunity may be right in front of you.”
Shahani declined to go into great detail on what the company is building, saying that they plan to share more around a public launch later this year.
“I used to get so frustrated when people say ‘stealth mode,’ and now I have to be that guy. There just isn’t a lot of upside to getting into the specifics until we launch later this year,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ll be working with a handful of early customers that are already giving us great input and will be using components of our software over the next several months as we run hard towards our first major release.”
The company’s Web site doesn’t offer many more clues, since at the time of publishing it simply offered a landing page with an email sign-up form that said: “Coming soon. Keep in touch?”
Unlike Appature, Shahani said that Amperity’s technology will be applicable across a wide variety of industries, not just health care. In other words, they appear to be going even bigger with this idea.
In addition, Shahani noted that they are trying to disrupt some legacy enterprise software companies, as well as large service vendors utilizing a “people-driven approach to (do) something that should fundamentally be software driven.”
Amperity was founded earlier this year, and it employs five people with a plan to triple in size in the coming weeks.
“While we’re fortunate to be well funded, we’re not the types to go out and deploy capital just because we can — our growth plans are designed to allow us to reach maximum velocity quickly, and expand as we validate our solution and hit the important milestones,” said Shahani.
“It’s going to be hard and we’re going to fail plenty along the way — but the chance to tackle some really interesting technical problems and build a great company is incredibly motivating. Across the team we’re already beating the shit out of ourselves, taking some risks, and loving every second of it.”
Given the founders’ track record of startup failure — anyone remember social networking startup Blue Dot? — and success — Appature — investors are pretty excited to join with Slager and Shahani again.
“The problem space Amperity is attacking is rooted in a set of customer needs Kabir and Derek have successfully addressed in the past,” said Madrona’s McIlwain. “They are a world-class team that we are thrilled to be investing in and partnering with again to build another great company.”
Asked about the desire to build yet another company, Shahani admitted that startups are not for the faint of heart. Even so, he noted that making the leap this time was a relatively easy decision given the rewards associated with trying to solve big problems alongside passionate people.
“I know this sounds trite, but Amperity in particular gives us an opportunity to do something really big,” he said. “I think the people we have around the table are evidence of the scale of the opportunity we are pursuing — and with that scale comes the opportunity for even more learning, an even more complex set of exciting problems to solve, and for Derek and me the thing we really love which is creating a culture that allows people to be their best and accomplish things together none of us even thought possible.”