May 11, 2020 | Business Journal

$5M funding found spurs Bellevue sales software startup to hire, improve AI capabilities

Ray Meiring is CEO of Bellevue-based Qorus.
Ray Meiring is CEO of Bellevue-based Qorus.

Bellevue-based Qorus is hiring senior executives and growing its sales, marketing and customer support teams after closing a $5 million funding round in late April. 

Qorus offers software that creates sales documents like proposals, pitch slideshows and RFP responses. CEO Ray Meiring plans to double revenue annually for the next few years.

The company has more than doubled its Seattle office to 12 employees in recent months, though probably won’t hire as quickly as planned because of Covid-19. Qorus employs 58 worldwide, including an engineering base in its former headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa and has employees in New York and Tampa.

The Series A financing round, led by Seattle-based WestRiver Group, will also help the company continue innovating its product. Qorus is doubling down on the artificial intelligence components of its application and developing deeper integrations with Salesforce and with Microsoft’s Dynamics platform. WestRiver Group managing director Anthony Bontrager said those capabilities have allowed Qorus to take on larger competitors.

“Even in the early days, the technology appeared to be something really special in terms of how they've layered in machine learning and AI into the platform that allows them to do things that other legacy solutions really weren't,” said Bontrager, who is joining Qorus’ board of directors. “You get a lot of incumbents in place, a little bit of complacency sets in, and it I think Qorus found the right market at the right time to go into business with a very differentiated offering.”

Bontrager said the deal came together organically out of his relationship with Meiring. Pulling the deal together took about a year, and Meiring said it was nerve-wracking to close – particularly during a pandemic.

Despite the economic downturn spurred by Covid-19, Meiring said Qorus signed many new customers in April, particularly through Microsoft business channels. In addition to Microsoft, Qorus has thousands of customers, including Hitachi, major law firms and recruitment agencies. Meiring sees health care and financial services as a promising industries for future growth.

Sales and software rollouts to some larger customers have slowed. But Meiring said use of the platform by tech industry customers has been stronger than before: One cloud services customer put through a record number of transactions on the platform last month, and a few of education clients increased their Qorus activity after they began offering remote learning.

Qorus was built with remote workers in mind and integrates collaboration tools like Teams, which Meiring said has been a huge benefit as companies worldwide are forced into remote work.

“I think that if we can make it through this Covid period, the prospects are amazing for us as people adjust to remote working more generally and use our software as part of that process in the sales world,” Meiring said. “While we we're very concerned with Covid as a pandemic, from a business perspective we see us moving through a period where there's probably a lot of consolidation, but that the growth prospects are really positive for us.”

Qorus is based out of a Bellevue WeWork, which Meiring said they’ll probably keep at least through 2020 and potentially beyond as the startup delays more permanent office plans to maintain flexibility amid Covid-19. The team has adjusted well to working remotely, Meiring said, so he anticipates they’ll continue doing so for a while after receiving clearance to go into offices.

“We are looking forward to getting everybody together as a team,” Meiring said. “As you can imagine, doubling the headcount has meant that we have recruited a lot of people during Covid that we've never actually physically seen other than on a video screen.”

Published by Business Journal May 11, 2020
Business Journal