Sigstr raises $5 million in venture capital from big names

Marketing-tech company Sigstr Inc. announced Tuesday that it raised $5 million from local and national investors, the second-largest venture capital haul in Indiana this year.

The 3-year-old Indianapolis-based firm sells software that enables companies to leverage employee emails for subtle marketing. It has roughly 30 employees and more than 300 clients, including California Closets, Terminus and United Way.

Only SmarterHQ, which raised $13 million in January, raked in more venture capital this year. Carmel-based Fast BioMedical also raised $5 million in February.

This is the third equity capital infusion for Sigstr, bringing its total to $7 million. It raised $500,000 when it joined High Alpha Studio in August 2015 and $1.5 million later that year.

But this round, its Series A round, is notable for a few reasons. For one, Boston-based Battery Ventures participated in the round. It usually joins deals later in the life cycle of companies—as it did with ExactTarget, Angie's List and SmarterHQ—but has come in a little earlier to help Sigstr.

Also, Sigstr attracted an investment from inbound-marketing-software company Hubspot, putting the company in the rare company of Hoosier tech firms that have attracted corporate investments.

"We really haven't seen a strategic investor like HubSpot come in on a Series A deal—I'm not sure ever," said Tim Kopp of Hyde Park Venture Partners, the Chicago-based firm with a local office that led the round.

"I know GE Ventures came in on Octiv, but it was much later."

Indianapolis-based High Alpha Capital, Carmel-based Charmides Capital and Michigan-based Grand Ventures also participated in the round, which started in May and closed this month.

The company plans to use the cash to grow its product, sales and marketing teams, it said, "as well as further develop its offerings to meet the evolving needs of marketers across a range of industries."

Last summer, Sigstr said it planned to hire 111 Hoosiers by the end of 2020.

The cash infusion comes at notable time for the company. Its founder Dan Hanrahan in March handed over the CEO reins to former Salesforce executive Bryan Wade, partly to focus on his strengths.

Also, the company recently rolled out new offerings, including Sigstr for Events, which allows event marketers to tap into employee email to drive event awareness and registrations. It also introduced its account-based marketing functionality, which allows firms to target specific accounts, industries and regions with content tailored to each audience.

"The future of marketing is authenticity. Our vision is to unleash the power of your employees and to help marketers leverage employees to market from the inside out," Wade said in written remarks. "We're thrilled with our recent product innovations and are eager to continue to expand our product roadmap into areas that transcend the signature."

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