The art of category creation: Our partnership with QuantexaDawn

Salesforce, Shopify, Atlassian: the world’s most iconic and valuable SaaS companies are the ones that pioneered a category and have become synonymous with it. Category creation is notoriously difficult, as it involves forging one’s own path and educating buyers about a new concept. So at Dawn we get very excited when we see a business that has the potential to create and own a category — whether that’s Collibra in data governance or Tink in open banking. Both have become global leaders in their fields and generated billions in value.

But category-creating companies don’t burst forth fully armed like Athena from the head of Zeus. As with all startups, the story tends to begin with solving a tangible problem or addressing a painful inefficiency in a value chain. The difference with category creators is that they begin their journey with a clear and unwavering vision of where it’s all ultimately heading — and stay the course, even when there are easier options for them to hit their budget or short-term goals.

These characteristics were evident in Quantexa when we led their $20m Series B in 2018. At the time, they were selling into just one vertical (financial services) and one use case (financial crime), but their vision was much bigger and broader: to solve decision-making in the enterprise by using context.

Taken together, their core capabilities in financial crime (as I discussed in our original blog) — enriching data, making it more valuable, mapping out connections between data points, and enabling smarter and faster operational decisions — are precisely the raw ingredients needed for a Contextual Decision Intelligence (CDI) platform. This is the category that Quantexa’s impressive team set out to create, and their initial market and product focus was always just the first staging post.

Since our first investment three years ago, Quantexa has been relentlessly focused on four key drivers to turn its original vision into a reality — themes that crop up again and again with SaaS category creators:

  1. Being a multi-trick pony. Originally Quantexa solved a specific problem in a single business unit. Now it’s used by a variety of personas across many use cases — all underpinned by the same CDI engine, demonstrating that this is a broad category (worth $114 billion according to IDC).
  2. Entering new verticals. Quantexa began in banking, and to hit their ARR targets it would have been easiest for the team simply to double down on that vertical. But Quantexa now counts customers in insurance, retail, telecoms, government and tech — proving that CDI is fully horizontal.
  3. Creating an ecosystem and platform. Customers and third parties have already developed their own apps on Quantexa’s APIs and open architecture, enabling the company to scale exponentially. Developers can also level up via the structured ‘Quantexa Academy’ certification.
  4. Becoming the ‘North Star’ for customers. As customers realise what the platform can do for them and begin to co-create alongside it, Quantexa becomes their guide and benchmark to the new world of CDI — positioning Quantexa as the category owner.

Quantexa’s commercial execution to date has been consistent and impressive — last year they more than doubled ARR and signed a slew of top-tier global logos. But although there are now over 350 Quantexans worldwide, this story is still in its early phases and there’s plenty more ahead. Which is why we’re delighted to continue to support Quantexa as part of their $153m Series D and to welcome Warburg Pincus to the journey. Congratulations to VishImam and the whole team on this fantastic milestone!

Follow Henry on LinkedIn and Twitter

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