CapLinked strikes its first enterprise deal, inches closer to reinventing the way business deals are managed

By Michael Carney , written on November 13, 2013

From The News Desk

CapLinked has spent the last three years trying to reinvent the way complicated business financings and M&A (mergers and acquisitions) transactions are managed. The only problem is, the company has been doing so on a one off basis, selling single software licenses for its modern, online deal management platform directly to individual investment funds, banks, law firms, and operating companies. This revolution has been the business equivalent of death by 1,000 paper cuts.

Today that changed as the company announced a nationwide partnership with Sunbelt Business Brokers, the self-proclaimed world’s largest network of small and mid-size business (SMB) brokers. CapLinked will soon be deployed across Sunbelt’s 100 US locations (not including its 150 other global locations) beginning this month.

Sunbelt's transactions aren’t as large as the funds and banks that CapLinked typically works with – the company’s network features more than 5,000 collective SMB listings at any given time, which typically range in price between $50,000 to $10 million and average $600,000. But while the individual deals may be limited in size and scope, Sunbelt more than makes up for in sheer volume. The fact that Sunbelt completes more deals in a month than a typical bank or fund would in a year is the very reason that it needs better deal management tools.

“One of the big selling points for us was CapLinked’s demonstrated success in this space and we look to capitalizing on their experience.” Sunbelt Brand Manager Kelci Cotter said in a statement today. She added, “We are very pleased that we can offer this professional enhancement as the Sunbelt standard.”

The alternative to CapLinked is either costly and inefficient legacy Web 1.0 “Virtual Data Room” platforms like Intralinks or Merrill Datasite, or a combination emailing of confidential documents and the use of spreadsheets to manually track and management document distribution. Neither is really a viable option, given the alternative, nor should they be the way that high value transactions are managed in 2013.

CapLinked, on the other hand, allows users to communicate and organize due diligence materials in a secure and confidential environment that can be configured with flexible permissions and detailed activity reporting. The software is designed for the the iPhone, Square, and ZenPayroll generation, meaning that it’s simple and visually appealing.

As I wrote previously: “CapLinked takes what is typically an ugly and inefficient, yet overpriced software category and makes it both more beautiful and more affordable. Not bad as far as value propositions go.”

Also, unlike the last generation of products, CapLinked doesn’t use Flash or Java, but instead is built in Ruby on Rails, making it more flexible and interoperable with Web browsers and mobile devices.The platform also features an API that can integrate with third-party CRM, compliance, or other software systems. Welcome to the future bankers.

The Sunbelt deal is not your average partnership or enterprise sales deal for the company. Before being deployed into the business broker network, CapLinked will reskin platform will be re-skinned to match the Sunbelt’s branding, something the company has done only on a few select occasions for its largest customers in the past, according to founder and CEO Eric Jackson. Jackson’s company will also design and deploy proprietary training materials tailored specifically to Sunbelt’s business brokers and the ways they will need to use the platform.

It’s a major undertaking, given that CapLinked has just 18 employees, and one that Jackson will need to manage diligently so as not to detract from his company’s ability to serve its existing customers.

The El Segundo, California-based startup has raised a total of $3 million between its Seed and Series A rounds of financing. The company’s backers include Conversion Capital, Inflection Ventures, The Artesian Group, FF Angel, Siemer Ventures, 500 Startups, Peter Thiel, and Yammer founder David Sachs, among others. (Disclosure: Thiel is an investor in PandoDaily.)

In addition to Sunbelt, and its existing customers like Thomson Reuters, Sun Capital, Edwards Lifesciences, Draper and Kramer, and Proprietary Capital, CapLinked recently announced several new relationships with prominent clients. These include, Kayne Anderson Capital, an independent alternative investment management firm with approximately $24.5 billion in assets under management, and OnDeck, a small business lending platform. The company has customers in more than 40 countries and offers its platform on a SaaS basis.

As has been the case in other cloud-based software verticals, CapLinked appears to moving from early adopters – in its case VC firms, many of which became its first investors – to more traditional industries. The fact that the company has landed its first nationwide, enterprise-scale account is both a major milestone, and a testing ground for its ability to deliver technology and client services at this scale. Assuming the Sunbelt partnership goes well, Jackson hopes to duplicate it elsewhere in the industry. (Duh!)

It’s not easy disrupting entrenched industries, especially ones like financial services that are built on routine and paranoia of regulation and fraud. But as word continues to spread through the industry about CapLinked and its vastly superior transaction management solution, the company should get more opportunities to show its stuff. Deal management software can’t stay in the past forever, and CapLinked will surely be waiting for the moment the rest of the world catches on.