Read the pitch business-automation startup airSlate prepared for investors but didn’t end up needing to land a $51.5 million Series C
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- The business-automation startup airSlate raised a $51.5 million Series C round led by G Squared.
- It touted its finances to win over investors but prepared a pitch deck just in case, its CEO said.
- AirSlate plans to use the new funds to develop products and build out a creator community.
AirSlate, a startup in Boston that lets businesses automate business processes involving documents without coding experience, just raised fresh funds. And even though it prepared a pitch deck, that’s not what landed airSlate its latest round.
Instead, Borya Shakhnovich, a cofounder and the CEO of airSlate, told Insider investors approached the firm because of its financial track record. The latest round of $51.5 million in Series C funding was led by the venture-capital firm G Squared, with participation from the software firm UiPath’s investment arm, and it boosted airSlate’s valuation to $1.25 billion.
“This was not my first rodeo,” Shakhnovich said.
Between 2017 and 2019, airSlate tripled in size and generated $51 million in annual revenue, according to the company. It had 443,000 customers by the end of the 2019, including the insurance firm MetLife, the energy provider Eversource, and the Australian government, Shakhnovich said.
But it’s still operating in a tough market. Competitors in the business-automation space, like the $12.8 billion company DocuSign and the $5 billion firm Zapier, sell similar products. AirSlate tries to stand out by expanding into several product areas, Shakhnovich said.
Vadim Yasinovsky, airSlate’s cofounder and chief product officer, started the company in 2008 as the document-management firm PDFFiller. In 2011, Shakhnovich, a former biotechnology professor at Boston University, joined Yasinovsky to oversee the firm’s marketing strategy.
“It’s not like we took different softwares and put them together,” Shakhnovich said. “We built all of it from scratch.”
By 2017, PDFFiller received its first round of funding of $40 million from the private-equity firm General Catalyst. Two years later, the company acquired the e-signature firm SignNow and the legal-document library US Legal Forms. That’s when it changed its name to airSlate.
In early 2021, airSlate received $40 million in private-equity funds from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and General Catalyst. All the funds raised were spent on mergers and acquisitions or stored in the bank, according to Shakhnovich.
AirSlate plans to spend its latest funds on developing products akin to those of the cloud-based-communication company Twilio, directed at users with technical expertise. The company also plans to build a creator community where clients can create apps on top of airSlate’s platform.
“All of the financing that we’ve had up to date has been inbound interest,” Shakhnovich said. “We really work towards understanding who the right partner is for us.”
Not all of airSlate’s past investor meetings were successful. AirSlate has received pushback from investors for a lack of brand recognition and an ideal customer base, Shakhnovich said.
Now, when seeking investors, Shakhnovich looks for ones that closely align with the company’s mission.
“Investors are like shoes,” he said. “There’s a lot of them, and some of them will fit better than others. I think a lot of founders feel like their purpose is to win every investor, but that’s not possible.”