When Kraig Swensrud and Sean Whiteley’s search engine marketing firm was acquired by Salesforce in 2006, they were ecstatic. Acquisition — for them — was the stuff of startup dreams: build something great, sell it, and enjoy the fruits of that labor.
What they didn’t expect was how the acquisition would shift their dreams into something even bigger.
A dream expanded, an idea ignited
Following the acquisition, Swensrud and Whiteley took jobs at Salesforce and began to learn the ins and outs of the company’s ecosystem.
Swensrud became the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and Whitely became Senior Vice President of Product. Their background in marketing and experience working in these and other revenue-focused roles at Salesforce over the next decade eventually sparked the idea for an entirely new startup.
Qualified, which Swensrud and Whiteley founded in 2018, is a pipeline generation platform for revenue teams that use Salesforce. Qualified works by hooking into Salesforce to tell a company who is on its website and alerting the right people to start a real-time conversation with them. This helps companies meet with buyers and generate pipeline, right from their website.
A Salesforce idea leads to a Salesforce Venture
According to IDC, Salesforce and its ecosystems of partners, including Qualified, will create 9.3 million jobs and $1.6 trillion in revenue by 2026.
Salesforce Ventures helps enterprising founders build companies that reinvent the way the world works — and that includes many in the Salesforce ecosystem. So when the investment firm got word of Swensrud and Whiteley’s new project, they were intrigued.
After learning more, Salesforce Ventures participated in Qualified’s Seed round in 2019, followed by their Series A in August 2020. It was a good match.
“We knew Salesforce had everything we needed as entrepreneurs to build a great company: the platform built with trust in mind, the resources and leaders to guide us through growth, the venture arm to help us bring our vision to life, and lastly, a perfect opportunity for a product partnership,” said Swensrud, founder and CEO of Qualified. “Our partnership with Salesforce is integral to our success.”
It was also a successful match. After the Series A, Qualified closed a record-breaking fiscal year with 800% revenue growth and launched the tenth version of its platform with Qualified X.
“Qualified’s high growth momentum after its Series A was exciting to see,” said David Kellenberger, Principal at Salesforce Ventures. “Strong financial traction coupled with its differentiated approach to pipeline generation made it a promising company to continue to back.”
The success led to a new chapter in the partnership — in 2021, Salesforce Ventures led Qualified’s $51 million Series B alongside investors like Norwest Ventures Partners and Redpoint Ventures. Armed with funding from the Salesforce Ventures-led round, Qualified grew by 5X and achieved 400%+ year-over-year revenue growth.
A new chapter for Qualified — and Salesforce
The next opportunity came in 2022 with a fast-and-furious Series C round. This time, Qualified raised $95 million, with further participation from Salesforce Ventures.
With its Series C round, Qualified says it will continue to expand its team, shape customer success initiatives, and accelerate products such as the Pipeline Cloud — a new set of technologies designed to help revenue teams generate pipeline faster.
Built on the foundation of a Salesforce-connected website, Qualified’s Pipeline Cloud delivers account-based buyer intent with Qualified Signals, helps sellers convert outbound prospects with Qualified for Outbound, helps marketers maximize ad spend with Qualified for Account-Based Advertising, and connects sellers and buyers instantly with Qualified Conversations.
This level of innovation was exciting to Salesforce Ventures and others who participated in the round.
“Our investors recognize that we have a unique opportunity to disrupt the legacy B2B pipeline generation process,” said Swensrud. “With this new capital, we will bring the vision of the Pipeline Cloud to Salesforce customers around the world.”
As Salesforce Ventures focuses on creating the world’s strongest ecosystem of enterprise software companies, it is happy to support Qualified on its growth journey.
“It’s exciting to invest in a company that is doing so much to expand the Salesforce ecosystem,” said Alex Kayyal, SVP and Managing Partner at Salesforce Ventures. “With its toolkit of funding, expanded partnership, and broader team in tow, we look forward to seeing what Qualified will achieve.”
Read more about Salesforce Ventures investments here.