West Chester-based Hoopla, developing CRM scoreboards, scores funding from Safeguard Scientifics, others

Tom Paine

Though not everyone is aware of it, there is a growing ecosystem in the Philly area around cloud-based SaaS CRM (Customer Relationship Management), the leading player in that space, Salesforce.com, and its Force.com platform. There is a large base of Salesforce.com customers, both for-profit and non-profit, and small companies as well as large enterprises such as Comcast and AmeriSourceBergen. There are also companies that have built their own SaaS offerings on top of the Force.com platform (Higher Ed recruitment tool TargetX of Conshohocken and life sciences CRM vendor Veeva Systems , which has much of its marketing and client side operations in Malvern though it is headquartered in California, are two that come to mind); and Salesforce.com consultants/installation experts such as Malvern-based CRM manager, in which Salesforce.com owns a stake, and Bluewolf, which has a Philadelphia office and provides consulting, training and recruiting. Another part of the ecosystem is for apps that complement and work with the Force.com platform, and can be sold through Salesforce.com's AppExchange.

In the latter category, one area venture that stands out is Hoopla Software Inc. of West Chester, which recently received $2.3 million in VC funding , including $1.3 million from Safeguard Scientifics and the rest from other yet to be named investors. Hoopla was founded in 2009 by Mike Smalls, a veteran of the Philadelphia technology scene. After spending several years with Symantec, he was with Philly startup Destiny WebSolutions, then Josh Kopelman-backed anti-spam software vendor TurnTide, where he headed up sales. After he helped it to achieve a rapid ramp-up in revenue, TurnTide was acquired by Symantec, and Smalls did a second tour of duty with that company for a couple of years. His next stop was as Executive Vice President with SEO software firm ClickEquations (now part of Acquisio) , which he left in 2009 to pursue his startup.

Hoopla Scoreboard Video on Vimeo.

Hoopla is targeted at doing something Smalls knows well how to do from his experience as a sales executive: motivating a sales or customer service organization to achieve its goals and measuring its performance towards them. Its primary product, Scoreboard, provides a visual dashboard generated from CRM sytem data showing how individuals are doing in reaching goals and relative to each other. It also provides a social layer through integration with Saleforce.com's Chatter social media tool, and provides gamification elements to enhance (hopefully) friendly competition among the group members. Scoreboard launched on the AppExchange in late 2010, and Smalls said in a phone interview with Philly Tech News that Hoopla now has more than 40 customers. Although focused on the Force.com platform now, Smalls says Hoopla may look at other CRM platforms or social media tools in the future.

Smalls declined to specify who the other investors are, saying they would be announced within a few weeks. He did say the other investors are not locally based. Hoopla's Form D filing indicates the round is still open for raising another possible $500,000.

Smalls will give a talk on Hoopla, gamification and on being part of Salesforce's Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partner program at the Philly Force.com meetup on the evening of January 18 at LiquidHub in Wayne.

For Safeguard, this investment represents another commitment to an early stage IT venture, something the firm
hadn't done too much of for a while. Early last year it invested in Exton-based "Internet of Things" startup
ThingWorx, and it announced along with the Hoopla funding an investment in another Internet of Things venture, Richmond, VA-based Crimson Informatics.

Salesforce.com reported revenue of $584 million in its most recent quarter, a gain of 36% over the prior year. It has a market value of $14 billion. In a blog post about its investment in Hoopla, Safeguard emphasized booming growth estimates for spending on gamification processes, although that is a very broad category including many different types of things.


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