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Clay, Inception to Series B: Reinventing Prospecting & Outreach for Sales with AI.

  • 06.28.2024

I am🔥 up to announce boldstart’s investment in Clay, which has kept its funding private until today. Our partnership with Clay began in the Inception round with our friends at Box Group and First Round in 2017, continued in the Series A led by Sequoia, and now in the Series B led by Meritech. Read more on Clay’s blog and coverage on Bloomberg.

Clay is reinventing data enrichment and sales outreach for growth marketers and rev-ops teams, by dramatically improving customer research — and then using that to scale outreach. Since launching on Product Hunt in 2022, they have grown to over 100k users and >2,500 customers including OpenAI, Anthropic, Intercom, and Notion. Clay is a classic overnight success story, 7 years in the making.

Clay began focusing on developers, allowing them to instantly start using and extending an API by writing live code without any setup. When we first met co-founders Kareem Amin and Nicolae Rusan back in June 2017, they were on a mission to democratize programming, making it accessible to more people. Here’s a snapshot of their initial pitch:

Like many great companies we work with at boldstart, Clay had to iterate on the early product, exploring several ideas like reimagining the terminal and a front-end builder. Then lightning struck; the idea of integrating APIs into spreadsheets emerged as a way to make both developers faster AND programming more accessible to non-developers. This proved to be a powerful experience, like a programmable Airtable.

The challenge then became how to focus their go to market strategy given the broad range of use cases for the tool. Clay solved for this by leaning into one of the most popular use cases, researching prospective customers and then using that data to personalize sales outreach. They began dogfooding the product, using it for themselves to enrich data on potential customers and using that to improve their outreach to those customers. Bingo! Technical growth marketers and RevOps teams started adopting Clay, programming it, and automating their manual workflows.

The team leaned further into this use case, releasing the Claygent (Clay’s AI Agent). This supercharged the manual process of researching a customer leveraging dozens of data sources and feeding the results directly into the automated sales workflow to personalize outreach. Like being pinned to the back of your seat in a racecar, this was product market fit, and they started to grow extremely fast.

This has been so groundbreaking that OpenAI recently published a customer case study on the Claygent!

“The company has achieved 10x year-over-year growth for each of the past two years, with over 100 thousand users…

The widespread adoption of Claygent has been a significant driver of this growth. Of Clay’s customers, 30% use Claygent daily, generating an impressive 500,000 research and outreach tasks per day. The impact is undeniable — teams of one or two can achieve results that previously required dozens of engineers.”

Read more on OpenAI’s case study here.

Today, Clay is one of the fastest growing companies in the market. Combining years of data aggregation, workflow building, and incredible user empathy, Clay’s product is spreading virally as users share their love on various channels across the internet. Many users even describe the product as “their source of secret alpha generation”. With AI, Clay is automating more workflows daily for GTM teams and delivering tangible ROI to customers resulting in more leads and better conversion.

They are just getting started making programming accessible to more people. The team is hiring across many roles. Please reach out if you’d like to join the rocketship! A special thanks to Brett Martin and Adam Rothenberg for introducing us back in 2017!

And if you’re a technical enterprise founder looking for a patient partner from Inception, reach out to us at boldstart!