Our Start-up of the Week is Animis Labs, which has developed a collaboration hub to help sales teams navigate complex scenarios to win more deals.
After spending 14 years working for both multinationals and start-ups, leading sales teams and working to improve sales operations, Danny O’Neill went on to co-found Animis Labs with Clare Dillon and Michael Meagher.
Both Dillon and Meagher are ex-Microsoft employees, with backgrounds in consulting and supporting technical scale-ups and start-ups. Dillon is currently leading marketing and outreach for Animis, while Meaghar is leading operations.
The three founders set up Animis after observing how complex sales and deals can be. Some can take up to 18 months to close, with as many as 20 stakeholders involved in decision making.
“With so many stakeholders, building stakeholder consensus is proving to be more difficult than ever before,” O’Neill told Siliconrepublic.com. “Up to 40pc of sales deals stagnate and die due to stakeholder indecision.”
O’Neill, who is CEO of the start-up, said that Animis represents a “new category” of sales technology, providing a hub that aims to help sales teams navigate complex selling scenarios and win more deals.
“While sales CRM and sales automation products are good in standardised transactional sales, they fail when the sales process is complex and changing,” he said. “Animis is addressing this problem.
“We have seen first-hand the rise of complexity in selling. The modern customer today is more knowledgeable in what they want and their needs are more sophisticated.”
‘Covid-19 slowed us down, but it also made some people more accessible than they might have been beforehand’
– DANNY O’NEILL
Some of the sectors where complex sales can be a particular issue are tech, financial services and pharma. O’Neill said that there is a “massive market opportunity” for a tech platform that can prevent lost sales opportunities.
“We’re going to target companies with complex high-value sales, where there are multiple sales team members needed to engage with the customer to win the sale,” he added. “Think of sales, technical partners and customer success coming together to develop the opportunity.”
O’Neill acknowledged that much of today’s sales tech relies on sales standardisation and automation, which works well for simple, transactional B2B sales.
“To succeed in complex selling scenarios, where every sale is different, we need to leverage human strengths – strategy, problem solving and creativity,” he explained. “With Animis, we put humans back at the centre of the sales process. We want to enable managers to create agile teams that make every customer interaction valuable.”
Animis was built with the goal of driving better collaboration across the sales team, bringing different teams together to drive stronger stakeholder consensus. O’Neill said that the start-up sees its product sitting above the current customer software stack, taking signals in from the other sales technologies and CRM tools used by businesses.
“By bringing this rich customer data together, we help teams turn multiple customer signals into actionable insight – all from a single Animis work hub,” he said.
“Having deep domain knowledge is key, whatever your field,” O’Neill added, offering advice to other self-starters in business. “I think having experience looking at a problem from several different business angles helps build a deep understanding of the problem.”
The impact of Covid-19
The potential threat that the Covid-19 pandemic poses to businesses is particularly significant for early-stage ventures, with a lot of angel and venture capital funding being paused or repurposed to keep established companies afloat.
O’Neill said the work that Scale Ireland has been doing to highlight the issues start-ups are facing has been “critical”, but he hopes to see more action from the new Government in this sector.
There are still many supports available to start-ups in Ireland. At the end of March, it was announced that Animis would be remotely taking part in the latest NDRC accelerator programme. However, O’Neill said that the global pandemic made the Animis founding team wonder if this was the right time to start a new business.
“As things started to calm down and markets began to open up, we started to get a great response to Animis. Companies are now looking for ways to drive more effective collaboration across their teams,” he said.
“Covid-19 has increased the sense of urgency as people work more remotely. Animis connects people around a common goal, setting out clear roles and responsibilities to streamline the workflow.”
The start-up has recently secured its first customer, European Gateway, which is a sales outsourcing organisation based in Denmark. O’Neill said the firm hopes to take on another 10 customers by the end of the year.
“Covid-19 slowed us down, but it also made some people more accessible than they might have been beforehand,” he said. “We have had more than 100 customer discovery conversations during the pandemic, which has created some great opportunities as well as great learnings. Never waste a crisis.”
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