Thursday, December 20, 2012

Windsor Circle Closes $1M Series A Round

CED Member Windsor Circle announced Wednesday a successful Series A round in excess of $1 million.

“Closing a Series A in excess of $1 Million in funding during the holiday season is a timely milestone for a company building the world’s first retention marketing platform for retailers,” said Matt Williamson, CEO, in a statement.

RTP-based Triangle Angel Partners (TAP) was the newest funding group to join existing investors, including Idea Fund Partners and Bruce Boehm, formerly of US Venture Partners, in Windsor Circle’s Series A funding round, which includes $685,000 of funds recently raised, plus the conversion of a Convertible Note of $405,000. Both groups are CED Members, as well.

“We look for seed and early-stage companies that are poised to grow, are not overly capital intensive, and have a product demonstrating success through early revenue traction,” remarked Rich Harris, President of TAP, of the investment. “Windsor Circle shows great promise in all these areas.” TAP’s investment of over $150,000 as part of the Series A represents the fund’s second investment since launching in late 2011.

For a start-up like Windsor Circle, the path to success requires more than just capital: “We were thrilled to have TAP close out the Series A – as a group of investors with backgrounds managing successful companies, the rigor of their due diligence process underscored their expertise, which is just as important as the capital they’ve invested,” reflected Williamson.

Lister Delgado, Managing Partner at Idea Fund Partners, holds a board seat on Windsor Circle. “We originally invested in Windsor Circle for its team and idea,” said Delgado. “The ongoing growth in eCommerce is also creating real pain points among the million-plus online retailers whose competitiveness depends on connecting, analyzing, and acting upon the data that often gets locked in various platforms.”  Idea Fund Partners has invested in both Windsor Circle’s Seed and Series A Rounds.

“Our Seed Round of $350,000 was over-subscribed, raised pre-product and pre-revenue,” stated Williamson. “We had a great starting team, with all four founders going a year without salary to allow us to put those funds to use bringing on additional engineers to get the product to market.”

Windsor Circle launched its initial product in August 2011: a set of pre-packaged integrations between leading eCommerce platforms, including Magento, Yahoo Stores and BigCommerce, and leading email marketing software, such as ExactTarget, MailChimp, and WhatCounts. “By December 2011, we had 10 customers and had proven that our software could give retailers of all sizes the same personalization and targeting capabilities that the world’s top online retailers use to drive revenue and long term customer retention,” said Williamson.

Williamson began fundraising in earnest in 2012 for a Series A.  “During the fundraising process, it was clear that there is a crunch going on. Many VC firms are at the end of their fund’s life, and are themselves out trying to raise money for the next one.  Economic uncertainty is keeping some investors sitting on their cash.”

Existing inside investors first backed the company with a convertible note of $405,000, while Williamson pitched to over 50 Venture Capitalists and investors across the country. “In late summer, we were excited to receive our first term sheet for a $2.4M investment – and ended up turning it down. It wasn’t on the terms we were looking for.”

Williamson continued fundraising, and by November, existing investors including Idea Fund Partners committed additional capital to the Series A, which was capped off by a new investor group, Triangle Angle Partners, as the round closed in December 2012.  The new capital, totaling $685,000, combined with the conversion of the Convertible Note into Series A stock, closes the Series A in excess of $1 million. To date, the company has raised over $1.4M.

TAP member Craig Stone, who is also a CED Board of Directors member,  explains some of the dynamics making it harder for entrepreneurs to find their second or third round of funding: “We think that accelerators, individual angels, etc. are doing a great job providing seed funding to startups. The next round of funding is a lot harder to raise, and only the companies that make meaningful progress with their seed money are able to raise their first significant round of funding.  We watched Windsor Circle over a nine-month period and liked the progress that they made.”

Windsor Circle, Inc., a Durham-based technology start-up, was founded in 2011. They've been a CED Member since 2011, as well. 

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