LEHI — Utah customer interaction platform Podium continues its explosive growth — now boasting some 45,000 clients and interactions with half of U.S. cellphone users — and on Tuesday announced a $125 million Series C round of venture funding.
The company began life in 2014 as a tool to mediate online customer reviews for brick-and-mortar businesses but has since grown into a multitool suite that includes customer messaging, mobile payments, webchat, online reviews and customer feedback using messaging channels that customers actually use and trust.
Podium co-founder and CEO Eric Rea said the new funding comes at a time when the importance of a business’ digital connections with its customers has never been more significant.
“Over the past five years, we have seen the fundamental way consumers interact with a local business change,” Rea said in a statement. “This round of funding coincides with one of the largest events that has impacted and changed business in our lifetime. The digital transformation that was already taking place has been exponentially accelerated.
“We are putting this round to use to not only make this transition the most effective for these businesses during this period of time, but also to continue giving every local business the tools they need to grow and succeed moving into the future.”
The new funding pushes Podium’s total funding to date north of $217 million and will help fuel continued market growth and product development.
The company also announced a new free version of its platform, Podium Starter, on Tuesday, which the company said will help businesses continue to navigate challenges that have come along with widespread COVID-19 related restrictions.
Podium Starter will allow businesses to interact with customers and process contactless payments completely via messaging, a feature Podiums says “is both convenient for their customers while also filling a crucial need during periods of social distancing due to COVID-19.”
While Podium got its start in a tiny office above a Provo bicycle shop in 2014, the company has since invested in two new office buildings in Lehi, employs over 600 people and has become a regular feature on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing U.S. companies. Last year, Podium earned the No. 13 spot on that list with an astounding three-year revenue growth rate of 5,392%.
The company has also attracted investment from some of the heaviest hitters in the U.S. venture capital realm. Those include Silicon Valley’s Institutional Venture Partners, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Accel, Summit Partners, Y Combinator and others, including local investors Album VC (formerly Peak Ventures.)
In a 2017 profile of the company, Album VC general partner Sid Krommenhoek said Rea and fellow co-founder Dennis Steele were finding a high level of success thanks to the perfect marriage of a novel business concept and sheer persistence.
“These guys have a hustle that permeates everything they do,” said Krommenhoek. “From building their product to selling their product to being really close to their customers.”
Podium’s Series C funding round was led by YC Continuity with participation from Sapphire Ventures, Alkeon Capital, Recruit Co. Ltd., IVP, Accel, Summit Partners and GV.