Knak nabs $31 million CAD to market its drag-and-drop, no code platform

Formerly bootstrapped Knak has closed its first ever round of financing, a $31 million CAD ($25 million USD) Series A round from New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners.

Knak will use the fresh funds to hire more people, and to create more awareness for its product, a codeless campaign creation platform for enterprise marketing teams. Currently the startup employs 42 people. Knak hopes to hire 50 more by July, 2022.

“What used to take them weeks or months they’re able to do in hours or minutes with Knak,” Ujjainwalla said.

Insight’s investment in Knak took the form of venture capital, and the company declined to share whether Insight has taken a majority ownership stake in Knak.

Making potential clients more aware of the company and what it does is critical for Knak. Although Knak works with some major enterprises, such as Citrix, Databricks, and Slack, co-founder and CEO Pierce Ujjainwalla told BetaKit: “We’re still flying under the radar.”

Knak’s solution is a drag-and-drop SaaS platform that allows marketers to code their own emails and landing pages, eliminating the need for developers or agencies to assist with development work.

“With its ability to integrate with the most popular marketing automation platforms being used by businesses around the globe, Knak has securely positioned itself as a leader in codeless creation,” said Philine Huizing, vice president at Insight Partners.

Huizing joins Knak’s board of directors as part of the financing deal.

“I’m very excited to have Insight here as our partner here to help us,” Ujjainwalla said. “They’ve really demonstrated an ability to select and invest in software companies that change the world. I think we believe we have the potential to do that.”

According to Knak, enterprise marketers spend hours and tens of thousands of dollars on branded emails and landing campaigns. However, Knak’s no code platform integrates with marketing automation platforms, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Oracle Eloqua.

“Marketers are now empowered to build out their own digital campaigns. What used to take them weeks or months they’re able to do in hours or minutes with Knak,” Ujjainwalla said.

The software has commanded the attention of a number of multinationals, including Foursquare, and the pharmaceutical company Roche, both of which are customers.

Nonetheless, it’s clear Ujjainwalla believes his product hasn’t gotten the attention he thinks it deserves. “Our biggest competition is the status quo,” he said, noting that many marketers are still struggling to code their own pages, or hiring expensive developers or agencies to do the work for them.

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At this point, Knak’s biggest challenge is introducing change management to help companies realize the savings that a solution like Knak can bring them, according to Ujjainwalla.

Ujjainwalla founded Knak in 2015 along with COO Brendan Farnand and CTO Patrick Proulx. When the startup first began it offered templates to small marketers. But by 2017 the company switched to selling to enterprise firms, targeting them with direct sales, and setting them up on annual contracts.

Ujjainwalla said that pivot is what helped Knak grow and begin to work with some of the larger firms. During the pandemic things picked up even more as marketers needed to be able to collaborate from anywhere.

“Their expectation of the software they were using really went up a lot,” Ujjainwalla said. “I think all of those things combined with the offering we had made it something they really wanted to work with.”

Now, the most immediate challenge facing Knak is hiring the right people. Ujjainwalla stressed the company is hiring and looking for “smart, passionate, driven people” to help Knak’s mission of making marketers’ lives easier.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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