NewVoiceMedia Takes $20M Led By Highland Capital, MMC To Build Contact Centers In The Clouds

NewVoiceMedia, an enterprise startup riding the wave of cloud-based services, has raised $20 million for its business of contact center solutions, which currently serves 8,000 agents in 30 countries. The Series B round was led by Highland Capital Partners and MMC, with participation from existing investors Eden Ventures and Notion Capital, and brings the total funding for NVM to $26.3 million.

In an interview by email, NVM’s CEO Jonathan Gale says that the new investment will be used to help the UK-based company expand further into the U.S., as well as product development in workforce optimization and multi-channel solutions.

The company already sells products for marketing, sales, service desks and other operating divisions; and it also targets home workers and small businesses through to larger enterprises. The goal with new product development is to combine functionalities to meet how businesses run themselves, and also to ensure that its products remain cost-effective. “They are likely to have invested in a CRM and are looking to maximise that investment by integrating additional services,” notes Gale.

But that’s not to belittle the amount of investment needed to crack the U.S. — a must-have market for any serious enterprise tech startup, in the mind of Laurence Garrett, the Highland partner who will be joining NVM’s board. “It is really tough for European companies to do America properly and correctly,” he noted in an interview.

The enterprise market for cloud services has been in the ascendent for some time now, with investors like Andreessen Horowitz putting tens of millions of dollars, and a lot of consideration, into backing startups that tackle the space from disruptive angles. While there may always be a public appetite for hearing about the latest and coolest consumer tech service, the enterprise startups often fly a little lower but can be just as revolutionary and game-changing in what they ultimately achieve.

NVM’s disruptive angle is in the area of contact centers, specifically replicating — for a fraction of the price — the offerings based on costly customer premises equipment that helps customer service teams route calls, offer automated responses and integrate live responses with customer record access.

NVM’s business comes from two directions: The first is the larger enterprise looking to cut down operational expenditures, choosing to leave CPE behind in its next upgrade cycle in favor of lower-cost cloud solutions. The second is the smaller company that never had the scale to invest in physical contact center solutions before but is now able to consider less-expensive, more flexible customer service options in the cloud.

NVM is not the only company tackling this area. Cloud competitors include Five9, Contactual and Interactive Intelligence; and of course on-premise companies like Genesys, Avaya and Aspect are also trying hard to remain in the game. Gale notes that NVM stands apart because of its heavy investment in “the security, availability and performance aspects of its service,” with the status of these played out in real time on a public trust site.

With a lot of cloud services competing on price — NVM’s offering starts at $47 per agent per month for a minimum of five agents and one supervisor — cloud companies longer term may seek bigger margins and more multi-channel efficiency by way of consolidation. But for now NVM has continued to make itself as adaptable as possible, with native integration with Salesforce among its features.

“The objective is not to address the agent desktop market directly, but to integrate seamlessly with it bringing voice, chat, email and social channels to the desktop through intelligent queueing and routing,” notes Gale. “Couple this with management reporting, analytics and management tools (like workforce optimisation) and that represents a multi-billion-dollar market opportunity annually.”

For Highland, the decision to invest was influenced in part by the leadership at NVM: one of Gale’s past roles was as VP of business development at MessageLabs before it was sold to Symantec for $695 million. “He really understands the software-as-a-service business model,” notes Garrett. “At NVM, he’s taken a great business and made it better.”

The company now is seeing year-on-year growth of 200 percent, as well as an annual run rate of over $15 million, with customers like Parcelforce, PhotoBox, QlikTech and SHL showing that the company can “grow well on modest capital,” Garrett says. “Once we see that criteria met for a European startup, we get excited.”