How does a company become the most installed application in the Google Apps Marketplace, competing against popular apps like MailChimp and SalesForce? Ask Ray Grainger, CEO of Mavenlink, whose company catapulted to success after joining the LaunchPad program.
Headquartered in Irvine, Mavenlink is a social project management tool in the cloud computing space that allows users to manage all projects, including tasks, deadlines, discussions and file sharing across many team members on a global platform. The differentiating factor between Mavenlink and similar software services on the market is its financial service offerings. Mavenlink offers a market focused application that enables intercompany collaboration with financial services such as time, expenses and online payments.
In the beginning stages of the company, Grainger overcame several challenges. “Crystallizing a business concept and building a company that you can take to market was a challenge,” Grainger said. Another challenge was finding the right talent. “It’s hard to get the right talent to leave their high-income jobs to work for a startup,” Grainger said. If that’s not enough, Grainger also had to determine whether the product had a market, find the right product-market fit, develop a sales model and raise capital.
Grainger took note of LaunchPad through the Orange County business community—he knew professionals who were familiar with OCTANe and connected him with Vice President of Entrepreneurship Luis Vasquez. “We were at a stage with our company where we were ready to go get outside funding. We had already raised $2 million, but that was mainly through contacts we already had–family and friends. Through LaunchPad, we were able to formalize the business plan, make marketing plans and learn how to use capital. There were experts that gave us samples of investment plans. It was a realistic environment that shaped us up and got us ready to go out and get funding,” Grainger said.
Grainger felt that LaunchPad “was a safe environment for [Mavenlink] to pitch our business ideas and get real-time feedback. The pace was right. It was fast—but that required us to be on our toes. And it was structured: there were progress reports and evaluations of different areas, such as marketing or technical areas, and feedback came from people who had relevant experience.”
Following LaunchPad, Mavenlink raised $3.9 million in equity. The company secured a distribution deal with Google and is now the most installed application in the Google Apps Marketplace. Recently, Mavenlink formed a deal with Intuit, a leading provider of financial and tax preparation software, to launch QuickBooks integration on the Intuit Partner Platform.
Mavenlink’s long-term ambition is to link together every small and medium-sized business on the planet so that they can conduct business online. This fall, the company will launch an enterprise version of the application, which will be targeted to larger companies and sell at a higher price point. “We want to work with OCTANe to grow Mavenlink’s enterprise edition. The OCTANe board is comprised of large companies and we want to leverage those connections for growth,” Grainger said.
When asked his thoughts on LaunchPad, Grainger said he would absolutely recommend the accelerator to other startups. “It’s a good testing ground for any first time CEO. They will get you in good shape,” he said.
LaunchPad is OCTANe’s hand’s-on, pro-bono accelerator for start-up companies in the technology, life science, and clean tech industries. Click here for more information.