From Affinity Customers to Affinity Investors: The Value of Relationship Intelligence
Today we “put our money where our mouth is.” More than two years after becoming Affinity customers, I’m proud to announce that Menlo has invested in the company.
Affinity has built a “relationship intelligence” platform enhanced by automation, AI, and an intuitive Excel-based UI. It’s a modern take on CRM, tailor-made for professionals whose work is more nuanced than sales, the knowledge workers whose professional success relies on their ability to build and nurture their professional network.
With their focus on relationship intelligence, Affinity has found product-market fit selling into relationship-driven industries like venture capital, private equity, real estate, legal, and more. For these professionals, finding a connection, understanding the strength of a relationship and the context around it means the difference between closing a deal and losing it. At the same time, these aren’t the type of people who want to do the manual labor required to keep a CRM up to date. They either blow off the chore of maintenance or assign it to junior staff who similarly don’t care. But Affinity frees its customers from data-entry drudgery and works in the background of their day-to-day, capturing and analyzing the “data exhaust” from every email, calendar invites, etc. This data is used to create, update, and enrich every contact and company record on the platform, completely automatically. Through machine learning, Affinity can capture a complete view of a professional network and provide unique insights, uncovering how to engage with the right people, and surfacing opportunities for alliance.
Using Menlo as an example: Our firm has a large portfolio of companies we’ve backed and we are constantly engaging with a broader network of potential investments, strategic partners, fellow VC firms, etc. Those engagements are happening across the firm. An individual CEO, for example, might have threads going with one or more of our investors, while also speaking to our Talent Partner, our Business Development Partner, and our lawyer on other topics. Because Affinity captures the totality of those interactions automatically we can get a picture of who within Menlo might be the best person to reach out on a particular project or understand how we can better collaborate behind the scenes. Gone are the days when someone might reach out to a founder and realize that someone else in the firm had just called them on the same topic. It’s a game-changer.
The company was founded in 2014 by Ray Zhou and Shubham Goel who lived together as CS students at Stanford. Like many founders we meet from Silicon Valley, both Ray and Shubham have deep technical chops and strong business instincts. What sets them apart is that while driving hard to build an impactful business, they keep the aperture open wide, always learning and evolving. That ethos is reflected in the strong product-driven team they’ve built. In high-growth tech companies, the competition for top tech talent is heated. Affinity’s engineering team stands out.
The quality of their team shines through in what they’ve built. Within Menlo, we believed the time was right for someone to build a better CRM. Traditional offerings felt stale and lacked many of the technical innovations that have moved us to new products in other enterprise categories. The team at Affinity shared that same thought and built an incredible platform that creates value through automation, AI, and a modern interface to map connections, build alliances and provide actionable insights that make businesses more successful.
In the years we’ve tracked Affinity, they have built a beachhead servicing thousands of customers in relationship-driven businesses, leveraging a vertical strategy to hit a significant ARR scale, attractive retention and growth economics. As investors in Carta, we know that they could build a big business just by focusing on customers like Menlo, who are in the business of private capital. It’s no surprise that they are finding real traction among similarly relationship-driven industries, but this is just the beginning. What Affinity has built is something new and meets a universal need. The demand for better relationship management and REAL “Relationship Intelligence” will appeal to many. We’re pleased to partner with them as they build.
Affinity is hiring:
This funding will power them through the growth ahead. Part of that growth means that they will be building out their team, hiring in the US and Canada. So, if you or someone you know is interested in joining an exciting startup, Affinity is looking to hire key GTM and Technical talent (machine learning, graph, and NLP data science and engineering). You can learn more here: https://www.affinity.co/company/careers