SilkStart’s new funding shows it pays to listen to your customers


Victoria-based SilkStart today announced that it has raised a $550,000 oversubscribed seed round, led by Canadian accelerator HIGHLINE and a group of U.S. and Canadian angel investors.

Like most modern B2B startups, SilkStart provides a SaaS offering to service the day-to-day business needs of its customers. However, in an interview with BetaKit (the audio of which you can hear below), SilkStart’s CEO Shaun Jamieson explained that the company’s target customer, member-based organizations like associations or not-for-profits, have vastly different needs than the traditional enterprise customer.

“I still encounter associations that have a Facebook page, that don’t have a website,” Jamieson said. “And if they do have a website it’s like I’ve gone into the Wayback Machine and looked at a website from 10 years ago.”

The result is the outcome of listening to customers and building for their needs rather than building a product and hoping to find a customer.

The lacking technological savvy of SilkStart’s customer has led the company to build and bundle a variety of SaaS products into its Association Management System (AMS), including some that can easily be found elsewhere. The result isn’t something that Jamieson expected to build, but the natural outcome of listening to customers and building for their needs rather than building a product and hoping to find a customer.

“Say I have a Squarespace website, Salesforce is my CRM, MailChimp is my email application, and Eventbrite for events, etc. – now how do I get all of those things to talk to each other?” Jamieson explained. “That’s the problem that associations were having.”

The all-in-one approach allows for member organizations to keep operational costs low by having to pay for only one service, and creates great customer lock-in for SilkStart, which is able to provide a core benefit after solving nagging problems like not having a mobile-first website.

“We see SilkStart as a platform, and the core of that platform is managing member data and member transactional data all in one place,” Jamieson said.

Of course, it’s much easier to do one thing rather than many things well, so SilkStart will be using its newfound funding to hone the portfolio of products in its AMS as the company works to build out its sales funnel.

Disclosure: BetaKit’s East and West Coast offices are housed in HIGHLINE’s Vancouver and Toronto co-working spaces.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.