DiscoverOrg sells data on companies' purchasing agents to vendors

Vancouver-based company creating a niche

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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It's not easy for vendors to find — or get to — the right person in a large or even a medium-sized company. There are simply too many automated answering systems, voicemails, and staff assistants blocking access to a key decision-maker.

That frustration for those trying to sell to a company has become a huge business opportunity for DiscoverOrg, a Vancouver-based sales and marketing research firm enjoying explosive growth in selling contact lists that bypass those roadblocks. Simply put, DiscoverOrg does the hard work of gathering phone and email contacts of executives who make information technology purchasing decisions, as well as other vital company information.

"We make a lot of phone calls," says Henry Schuck, the 30-year-old chief revenue officer at DiscoverOrg. "We are calling every day."

The company's success with its IT contact lists of enterprise and mid-market firms, as well as government and education organizations, has led it to broaden its offerings. One of DiscoverOrg's newest data sets, released last month, provides contacts to thousands of IT purchasers in 8,000 small-to-medium businesses. Another provides contact information for chief financial officers in 1,600 corporations.

The company, formed in 2006 by Schuck and chief operations officer Kirk Brown, has seen its sales double or triple every year, Schuck said. Last year's revenue was just under $14 million, and DiscoverOrg is on track to nearly double that number this year, he said.

The company now has 95 employees, with all but 10 based in Vancouver. About two-thirds of those employees are researchers. It has 890 customers, who spend anywhere from $20,000 to $350,000 annually for its services.

DiscoverOrg has, Schuck believes, barely tapped its potential. He sees the expansion of the corporate CEO list and perhaps development of regional lists for companies working in smaller market areas. DiscoverOrg has even discussed moving into English-speaking European countries.

The company remains privately held, and Schuck describes its financing as "bootstrap" to date. It hasn't ruled out a merger, acquisition or even an initial public offering, but its focus is on serving and expanding its customer base, he said. The company remains pleased with its Clark County base — it just expanded its presence in the EastRidge business park — and has been able to attract qualified local employees, he said.

Detailed information

Several companies — Hoover's and Jigsaw among them — provide a wealth of information about corporate leaders, size and financial strength. But DiscoverOrg's pitch is that its information is more detailed, more focused on decision-makers, and more up to date, with a refresh every 90 days and a guarantee of 95 percent accuracy.

Its services also include what Schuck calls real-time triggers — for instance, information about when a company is preparing to upgrade computer hardware or software, information that would be of interest to vendors in those fields.

"What we've done for the market is to let small startup companies get in front of decision-makers, when in the past they didn't know who they were," Shuck said.

Steve Hays, president of Inside Sales Team, a Buffalo, N.Y., company that manages sales operations within companies, said his firm started purchasing data from DiscoverOrg about one year ago. He pays about $40,000 a year for that data. Hays said it would be impossible for his own company to have such complete, and constantly updated, information about a company's profile, budgets, technology, contacts and organizational structure.

"Its actually kind of a game-changing system for us," Hays said. "If you try to build this capability internally, the math of it just doesn't work. It would be so expensive and would take so long that you would exhaust your resources and your runway."