Utah’s customer communications and payments platform, Podium, hit another benchmark on Monday, announcing a new funding round of $ 201 million and a market valuation north of $ 3 billion.
Podium co-founder and CEO Eric Rea said his company is well positioned to continue to grow its customer base, which currently numbers more than 100,000 companies, as transactions and interactions with consumers continue to grow. mediated by digital tools.
“We see this as a watershed moment for local businesses around the world, especially as the world is opening up again and local businesses are tasked with responding to the changing preferences of consumers who have welcomed the first digital interactions for the pandemic, ”Rea said in a statement. “Our goal is to help communities get back on their feet and to help local businesses participate meaningfully in the digital evolution that is happening at the local level. “
Podium’s latest funding, a Series D round, is led by YC Continuity with participation from Durable Capital Partners, Arpex Capital, Accel, Album VC, IVP, Sapphire Ventures, Summit Partners and Sorenson Capital.
YC Continuity chief executive Ali Rowghani said Podium excels in finding and serving a segment of small and medium-sized businesses that most tech companies have long lacked.
“Podium brings world-class marketing and payment tools to the small and medium-sized businesses that power our economy and employ the lion’s share of workers,” Rowghani said in a statement. “These companies have traditionally been overlooked by technology companies. Podium products level the playing field for SMEs and help them compete in a changing world.
The company began life in 2014 as an online customer review mediation tool for physical businesses, but has since grown into a multi-tool suite that includes customer messaging, mobile payments, online chat, Online reviews and customer feedback using messaging channels that customers actually use and trust, according to Podium.
In a Deseret News profile in 2017, Rea said the idea of starting a business focused on providing advanced digital communications tools to small businesses arose out of a conversation he had with his father, who was a small business owner at the time.
“My dad owned gas stations and a tire store in Calgary,” Rea said. “When all of these findings, reviews and comments started posting, he didn’t know how to deal with them.
“It showed me how out of sync with the technology the average local business is. “
It took a few years for the seed to germinate, as Rea graduated with an information systems degree from BYU and then took a job in Austria as a programmer for the International Atomic Energy Agency. But he did not thrive in the work he was doing in Vienna.
“It didn’t take me long to realize that working for one of the biggest bureaucracies in the world really wasn’t for me,” Rea said.
In this profile piece, Album VC founder and general partner Sid Krommenhoek, who was one of the company’s early investors, said Podium’s subsequent success came as no surprise at all.
“Eric and Dennis (Steele) put their heart and soul into everything they do,” said Krommenhoek, who is also a member of the Podium board of directors. “As an entrepreneur myself, having created and grown a business, you never really know how things are going to turn out, and there is some serendipity, but the founding of Podium is a great product and a lot of hard work. “
Krommenhoek said Podium’s success was not limited to developing an effective product.
“These guys have a hustle and bustle that permeates everything they do,” Krommenhoek said. “From building their product to selling their product, including proximity to their customers. “
While Podium debuted in a small office above a Provo bicycle store in 2014, the company has since invested in two new office buildings in Lehi, employs over 1,000 people and has become a regular figure. on America’s fastest growing Inc. 5000 list. companies.
Last year, following the announcement of a $ 125 million Series C funding round, Podium said it has negotiated business interactions on behalf of more than half of all cellphone users in the United States. United States.
The company has attracted nearly $ 420 million in venture capital investments to date, according to business data site Crunchbase.