One of the largest rounds of VC funding for a SaaS venture this year was closed earlier this month by Barcelona-based NTRglobal, one of Europe's biggest SaaS players with more than 12,000 business customers. The €22 million ($34 million) investment is led by Kennet Partners and joined by Atlas Venture, along with the company's existing backers.
Such a large investment for a substantial company that few have heard of outside of its customer base and the local venture investment community is further evidence of how difficult it is for European SaaS players to get visibility compared to their US rivals.
"When we came across NTR we were amazed that a SaaS business of this size exists in Europe," Kennet's Max Bleyleben told me last week. The investor has been looking for opportunities in Europe to leverage some of its SaaS experience (which, among others, includes Seattle-based project management vendor Daptiv, formerly eProject). But it hadn't expected to find a business of NTR's size and maturity, he said. NTRglobal already operates in eight European countries and has established a robust SaaS business model, said Bleyleben. It also has operations in the US and Japan. At least its prolonged stealth has allowed it to perfect its offering without potential competitors noticing, he added: "It did grow up under the radar and no one saw it coming."
NTRglobal provides on-demand remote support and systems administration for the professional IT market. Although the remote-control support service is based on the same basic technology as used by most of the Web conferencing players, the combination with remote WAN administration creates a package that's more tailored to the needs of IT departments and service organizations. That's certainly the thinking behind the company's positioning, as CEO Lluis Font explained to me:
"We want to be the best in remote support and remote administration," said Font. "If you want to be a professional and have productivity and you want to be best-in-class, I am sure you are going to pick out NTR solutions."
NTR has secured the funding to accelerate its current 80 percent year-on-year growth rate. The funds will help it scale up sales and marketing in North America, the UK, Germany and France, as well as investing more in its NTRsupport and NTRadmin products, Font told me. Although its US presence is small compared to the overall market opportunity, it is said to be growing well, with NTR's Dallas office already the company's second largest after Barcelona. "One of the factors that persuaded us to invest in NTR was the success they've had in the US," said Bleyleben. The company has proven it has the right formula for success in the US market, he said.
In fact, writing in his blog, Bleyleben described NTRglobal as an example of a new class of global business that that can prosper anywhere:
"NTRglobal's management team combines the best of Silicon Valley experience with the best of European management and a completely global approach. I think we are going to see many more businesses in the coming years that are not rooted anywhere at all, but combine the best talent and pull together the right resources wherever they may be located."
With a new war chest of $34 million to draw on, NTR is clearly now a name to watch on the global SaaS scene.