Enterprise Software Startup Ally Nabs $8M to Support Global Growth

Ally, a startup developing software to help businesses chart strategies and track progress toward meeting goals, announced Monday it has raised $8 million from investors to support the Bellevue, WA-based company’s growth.

Palo Alto, CA-based Accel led the Series A round, Ally says. Other participating investors included two Seattle-based venture capital firms, Founders’ Co-op and Vulcan Capital, and angel investor Lee Fixel.

Ally, which Vetri Vellore founded last year and leads as CEO, says his startup has raised a total of $11 million in outside funding.

“We’re going to scale the business across the board [and] invest in engineering, product, sales and marketing,” Vellore says.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been a dominant force in enterprise software for decades. Still, the rapid rise of companies like San Francisco-based Slack (NYSE: WORK), which sells enterprise communication software, suggests it’s possible for startups to make inroads in the industry. Microsoft created its Teams product to offer its enterprise customers a Slack alternative.

Vellore worked at Microsoft for 14 years, and had stints as a director and product unit manager at the software giant. In 2007, he left Microsoft in to launch his first startup, Chronus. That company, which is also based in Bellevue, develops software to help facilitate mentoring and coaching of employees at their jobs. Vellore is still a member of Chronus’s board of directors, but is no longer overseeing its day-to-day operations.

Ally’s products, meanwhile, are designed to let business leaders set long-term strategic initiatives based on a framework of “objectives and key results,” or OKR, Vellore says.

Businesses have used the OKR goal-setting method for decades, he says. However, the approach started receiving more attention after companies like Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL)—and one of its early investors, John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins—spoke publicly about using the OKR framework. Doerr’s book “Measure What Matters,” published in 2017, has created additional buzz, Vellore says.

Ally makes money under a software-as-a-service business model, wherein it charges customers monthly or yearly fees to use its products.

The startup has customers in more than 70 countries, according to company materials. They include Slack, T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS), WellStar Health System, and Remitly, an upstart money transfer service.

Vellore says that at Remitly, which is growing quickly but by most standards is not an especially large organization, Ally’s software is used to gather input from—and information on—employees at all levels.

“You start thinking about, ‘What are your strategies for the next year—or maybe even three years?,’” Vellore says, explaining how some Ally customers use the software. “Strategy, plan, objectives get captured in this OKR structure. What are the various things we need to do, and each department needs to do? You can go all the way down to a front-line employee: what is the employee doing, and why they are doing it?”

Ally’s products can be integrated with Slack, Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), and other collaboration tools to automatically update progress on initiatives in Ally based on progress logged in a customer relationship management software application, for example.

Those integrations hint at one of Ally’s long-term goals, Vellore says, which is to allow users to not only document what they want to accomplish, but also tell them how well-positioned they are toward meeting the goal.

“You’ve got to understand both sides of the equation: what you’re doing, as well as where things stand, to run your business effectively,” he says.

Ally currently has about 25 employees, who are split about evenly between its Seattle-area headquarters and satellite offices in India. Vellore says his startup’s goal is to grow to 70 employees over the next 12 months.

“There is global demand for a product like this,” he says. “We want to increase our global footprint.”

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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