Marketing is a powerful tool for acquiring and maintaining customers, and innovations in technology have only expanded the possibilities. Businesses now have access to hundreds of forms of marketing technology. In fact, sometimes a company can have too many of these tools to easily keep track of.
CabinetM has designed a platform that allows users to manage all of their marketing tools in one platform. The company will be leveraging AI and machine learning to mine data and make wholistic marketing technology recommendations. We reached out to co-founder and CEO Anita Brearton to hear about the progress of marketing technology and the inspiration behind the company.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
In your own words, how would you describe cabinetm?
CabinetM is a marketing technology management platform. We make it easy for marketing and sales teams to manage their technology discovery, use, performance, spend, and strategy.
What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?
My co-founder and I are long-time marketing executives and always knew that we wanted to solve big marketing problems at scale.
We’re at a hugely critical nexus point in marketing. First, marketing’s role has greatly expanded beyond brand development and lead generation. Marketing is now directly responsible for revenue growth and customer lifetime value as well as the entire customer lifecycle and experience. If marketing fails, the business fails.
Second, the way marketing is executed has dramatically changed; today it is very much a technology-powered function. Everything that marketing does is enabled by technology — every ad you see, every marketing email you receive, and every sponsored post that pops up in your social feed is enabled by technology. Marketing teams are using anywhere from 50 to 250 pieces of technology at any one time to acquire, engage and retain customers. This collection of technology is referred to as the “Marketing Technology Stack” (aka MarTech Stack), and while each product in the stack is designed to deliver value independently, the real value comes in how all the products fit together as an integrated whole.
With the amount of technology being used and everything needing to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, it’s easy to imagine how challenging it has become to choose the right products, manage their use and performance, and create a strategy for the future. This is a never-ending challenge because technology stacks are never complete. As long as consumer behavior continues to change, marketers will have to find new ways to engage with their audiences, and that means new technology. When we started CabinetM, common wisdom was that there were approximately 1,000 marketing technology products. Since we founded the company that list has grown to more than 15,000, with no end in sight.
We created CabinetM to address these issues, to make life easier for marketing teams, and to help companies meet their business goals through the effective use of technology.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
I co-founded CabinetM with Sheryl Schultz. We are both long-time marketing executives. Most of my career was spent leading startup marketing teams from inception to IPO and acquisition. Sheryl spent her career as a marketing PR and strategy consultant to technology startups. We both worked in the telecommunications industry in the heady days of the internet and between us contributed to more than 27 successful exits. We both stepped away from the telecoms industry at the same time and, in looking for a way to stay engaged with startups, found our way to angel investing. We joined Golden Seeds Boston and eventually took on the leadership of the group and found that we worked well together, had complementary skill sets, and different ways of problem solving.
Post Golden Seeds, I spent around 18 months as an interim CEO of an eCommerce company, and Sheryl immersed herself in investing in, mentoring, and sitting on the board of emerging technology companies. One of those, Crimson Hexagon, recently exited for $450 million to Cision after merging with Brandwatch. After I fulfilled my CEO obligations and we sat down to talk about building our own company, it was clear that technology was transforming marketing at an extraordinary rate. Looking at the existing challenges marketers were facing and understanding the pace of technology evolution, it quickly became clear that marketing teams were going to need infrastructure to manage and make sense of all the technology they were acquiring. That premise was the catalyst for CabinetM.
How is cabinetm transforming the industry?
CabinetM is a category maker — we were the first to define and stake a position in the marketing technology management category and were an early thought leader in the area of technology stack management. We’ve authored two workbooks, Attack Your Stack and Merge Your Stacks, and have created a repository of resources related to marketing technology for our community called LibraryM.
As the amount of technology that marketing uses grows and technology increases in complexity, companies have begun to build marketing operations teams who are responsible for the full lifecycle of marketing technology and technology strategy (among other things). Until CabinetM, the only tool marketing operations had to manage their technology was a spreadsheet. In the same way that sales teams rely on CRM systems like Salesforce to manage their client relationships, marketing operations teams now use CabinetM to manage all the details related to the technology they use.
What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?
As noted above, we are a category creator. In most environments, we are displacing a spreadsheet or equivalent. Since creating the category, there have been four additional entrants, Airstack, a Lenovo product that is focused on user management (keeping track of who uses each piece of technology), and Stackbeam, Martechbase, and MartechGuru, all of whom are focused on smaller businesses. CabinetM is a full-featured, enterprise-class platform that can support an unlimited number of stacks and users in each customer environment, enables collaboration and custom reporting, has a unique database of more than 15,000 marketing technology products, and is able to meet the security requirements of the large brands that are our customers. Our customers include: Williams Sonoma, Major League Baseball, LogMeIn, Acquia, Tyler Technologies, and more.
How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
The money we raise in this round will go to building our sales and marketing teams, funding our marketing programs, and expanding our engineering team to add machine learning/AI capabilities. We have an exciting opportunity to apply machine learning and AI to the technology adoption data we are collecting as companies manage their technology on our platform and to our extensive product database to acquire meaningful insights that will help our customers select and implement technology more successfully.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
- We are solving a critical problem — we are in the category of “need to have” versus “nice to have.”
- The problem we are addressing is getting bigger every day.
- Technology is becoming more complex and technology stacks are getting bigger.
- In addition to purchasing products, companies are building their own marketing technology, deploying custom variants of already complex products, and with the introduction of new “low code” tools, they are creating numerous variants of a single product.
- Marketing operations personnel are in high demand, and there is tremendous movement across the industry. If a company doesn’t have a well-documented and managed stack, losing a marketing operations executive can be catastrophic.
- We are seasoned, competent startup executives, category experts, and are recognized as industry influencers. Comparable companies took between $2.75 million and $4 million to get to where we’ve gotten on $1.5 million.
- We are addressing a more than $2 billion market opportunity in the marketing category alone. Over time, the same problem will emerge in HR (already seeing this), finance, service, and other organizations, which will give us the opportunity to expand our footprint within the enterprise and expand our market opportunity exponentially.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for cabinetm?
Our goal is to become the technology management infrastructure for the entire enterprise. Having said that, I think there are two likely scenarios for the business:
- On the path to our ultimate goal, we team up with other companies building infrastructure products to create a broader offering — in the marketing space that would most likely include a workflow company, digital asset management company, and marketing resource management (MRM) company. In this scenario, we could be the acquiring company, the acquired company, or part of a PE-driven roll-up.
- We exit to one of the following: Research companies that value our technology adoption data; large consultancies as an enabler for their MarTech consultancy practices; large marketing platform vendors that need to understand what other products surround theirs
As an underrepresented founder, what difficulties have you encountered? what advice would you give to minority and women founders?
Fundraising is difficult for everyone but doubly difficult for women. With women receiving only 2% of available venture capital, finding a funding source is very much a “finding the needle in the haystack” exercise and is extremely time consuming. In most cases, it is going to take you four-to-12 months to raise capital and is a second full-time job. In starting the fundraising process, set your goal to raise enough capital to last you 18 months. You need to raise enough so that you can focus on the business for at least six months before you need to raise again. We’ve chosen to crowdfund this raise because it is an efficient way to raise capital, and from our experience, I believe it levels the playing field for women and minorities. Instead of explaining why women can run a SaaS business or why I’m not too old to be an entrepreneur, my time is spent answering investor questions about the quality of the business — all good things.
We are excited to see where Anita and her team take the company. CabinetM is currently raising on Wefunder.