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Yesware gets $4 million in new funding to help salespeople manage e-mail communications (and soon, phone calls too)

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 20, 2012 01:00 PM

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Yesware founder Matthew Bellows tells me that he waited as long as possible before collecting a second round of funding for his Cambridge startup. This spring, the company, which helps salespeople manage their e-mail communications with prospective customers, was about three weeks from running out of cash.

Yesware had launched its product and announced a seed round of $1 million last September. "We wanted to make as much progress as we could possibly make on that $1 million, to help increase our valuation," Bellows says. "We had investors who were talking to us about putting more money in last December or in January. But we were thinking about pushing the company as far as we could, while also thinking about the likelihood of getting the money into the bank before you run out."

The checks cleared in April, from new investor IDG Ventures as well as previous backers Foundry Group and Google Ventures. (Bellows knew the team at IDG from his days as VP of sales at Vivox, one of their portfolio companies.) Yesware raised $4 million more in this second round of funding.

Yesware helps salespeople keep tabs on who is opening their e-mails, on what kind of device (a mobile phone or a desktop computer, for instance), and which links they click. Bellows says Yesware has so far only been available for Gmail users who also use the Google Chrome browser. As of today, the service will also work with the Firefox browser, and Bellows says the company eventually plans to support Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail client used by the bulk of corporate America. The company also wants to support users on mobile phones and tablet computers.

Yesware is free, but as users start taking advantage of the more advanced features, the company starts to send out messages encouraging them to either invite others to use the service, or to start paying $5 a month for it. Bellows says the company has 40,000 users of the free service, and nearly 1,000 paying customers.

Bellows says that the company also is branching out into telephone communications, with a feature called "My Follow-up Calls." "We create a mobile web page for you with a list of prospects you need to do follow-up with," he explains. "Let's say you sent them an e-mail 14 days ago and you haven't heard back. You just click on each phone number and we initiate the call for you." Afterward, salespeople can choose to enter a summary of what happened on the call into their phone, or have the conversation transcribed automatically. Those advanced features would likely require a subscription to Yesware.

Yesware moves at the end of this month from Kendall Square, where it has been working out of a two-bedroom apartment, to new office space on Kingston Street near South Station. The company has just eight employees.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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