Natero brings predictive analytics to customer lifecycle management

machine learning
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Predictive analytics is being applied by many vendors to early stages of the sales funnel -- Natero is applying it to an organization's existing customer base.

The old adage goes that it's far better to sell another dollar of service to an existing customer than it is to do so to a new customer. Existing customers know your business and your product and hence are an attractive group to look to expand revenue from.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, in particular, spend lots of time trying to intuit from witnessed customer behavior what that customer's intentions are, and in doing so avoid any churn or make a pitch at a point when a customer is ready to expand their business.

But manually tracking these action just isn't inefficient and hampers scalability. Which is where Natero comes in. The early stage startup is releasing its platform today and promises to offers machine learning and predictive analytics to drive insights from existing customers and their activities.

The company, which has raised $3.3 million to date from Merus Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz Seed, is focused on improving customer success within SaaS organizations. Customer success is an emerging function that ensures SaaS customers receive continuous value and remain loyal users. Essentially it is the activity that, in the absence of genuine customer interaction, helps ameliorate and potential flip side to more automated activities. Using Natero, SaaS vendors can increase customer retention and identify accounts that are ripe for expansion.

"Existing customer success solutions are based solely on intuition and best-guesses rather than data science and business intelligence," said Craig Soules, Natero founder and CEO. "As a result, companies are missing out on critical opportunities to retain and expand within their existing accounts."

Founded by two Carnegie Mellon Ph.D.'s, both who have extensive analytics and machine learning experience within large technology vendors, Natero combines predictive analytics alongside business rules and, therefore, claims to bring the best of the automated world alongside the best of what human interventions and analysis can offer. Natero is integrated with back office systems (CRM, support and billing) alongside a SaaS vendor's own product -- it can thus apply insights based on observed usage patterns and translate those into actions to be taken via back office offerings.

"SaaS companies have massive amounts of data about their customers. The trick is to aggregate and mine this data to uncover actionable insights -- without the need to involve IT or engineering teams every time," said Garth Goodson, founder and CTO.

Natero reminds me, in part, of systems like Totango or Intercom, but with the added advantage of machine learning. It's going to be interesting to watch the company develop.

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