With a McDonald’s case study in tow, Inkling scoops up cash

One of the more interesting end user computing companies I’ve come across scores and impressive funding round.


I first came across Inkling a few months ago and wrote about an impressive win they had with McDonald’s using the Inkling platform to rethink the way employee training delivery occurs.

Since 2009, Inkling has been on a mission to help change the way people work. In Inkling’s case, what that means is that the company helps organizations transform traditional PDF and Word files into dynamic, interactive content that can be delivered across a variety of device types. Inkling takes not only text but images, video and alerts and helps package it up in a format that is engaging and easy to consume.

The thesis that Inkling is following is that there is a huge underserved market in the workplace. The company estimates that 75% of today's U.S. workers perform jobs without sitting in front of a desk or computer. While those in the technology sector like to wax poetic about digital enablement and the like, for this huge number of workers the value that digital content can bring is pretty much inaccessible. For these restaurant workers, salespeople, field service technicians, and retail employees, information technology has not played a transformative role in their work lives. Employers’ communications to these folks is very much via a broadcast model which is pretty much entirely a one way stream.

The rise of mobile devices is changing this and Inkling intends to be at the front of this trend -- the Inkling platform lets enterprises communicate with deskless workers and allows them to measure activity and compliance. Real-time updates ensure that field employees are always looking at the most up-to-date information. With built-in analytics, employers can correlate usage data with critical performance metrics like customer satisfaction, revenue, and brand consistency.

The company is today announcing a $25 million investment round, to take total funds invested into the company to date up to $95 million. The round was led by Sapphire Ventures with participation from current investors Sequoia Capital and Tenaya Capital.

This funding comes as Inkling grows -- over the past 12 months the company claims to have grown its customer base to include top-10 firms in the insurance, retail, restaurant, pharmaceutical, energy, and manufacturing industries. Perhaps the biggest win, as I alluded to before, was when McDonald’s rolled out Inkling to roughly 15,000 restaurants.

Inkling also hit a key milestone this year, surpassing one million licenses sold, and expanded its executive team to include new executives in both marketing and product.

“Mobile devices are finally poised to change the work lives of tens of millions of deskless employees, so the opportunity is massive,” said Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling. “We are excited to scale our business alongside Nino and the entire Sapphire Ventures team, a team who has deep enterprise software experience and a proven track record of picking winners like Box, Docusign, and LinkedIn.”

I’ve been very bullish about what Inkling is doing. I do have concerns that their heavy funding will mean that an exit in a shorter time frame, and the debacle of missed opportunities that so often happens in these situations, is more likely. But M&A risks notwithstanding, this funding is a very big tick in Inkling’s favor.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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