We are excited to announce our seed investment in Solve. Solve provides enterprises with a real-time data warehousing and management solution which can be hosted in the customer’s own cloud. It acts as a single source of truth, reconciling all of the customer engagement/touchpoints and providing audit trails for all database changes.

Their main customers targeted in the initial go-to-market are small-medium e-commerce companies whose lifeblood is a deep understanding of customer interactions. BTW – when we say “small-medium” we mean with revenue of $10m-$100m USD a year which is a target market of 40,000 companies and aggregate revenue over $2b USD. Not too shabby as the first group of customers to go after.

VCs love moats but customers….. not so much

One of the things that were so appealing about Solve was their counter-cultural vision. Any modern technology company has grown by using a vast array of Saas vendors to help them build their business. Saas has the benefit of allowing fast speed to market because of how easily the solutions are to deploy. But easy to deploy can also mean easy to abandon and VCs don’t like that. “But what’s your moat?” we say. Too often the answer is ” the customer’s data”, meaning that the end customer may not fully own their data and if they choose to leave may have difficulty taking their raw data with them. There is usually the ability to get regular dumps of summary data but not be able to go down into the logs and see what’s really happening.

Solve is trying to blow up those moats by allowing customers to pull all of that data into their own cloud environment. It’s an open-source data store so that bit is free. Where Solve add value is by constantly optimizing the service for scalability and query speed. As the database is abstracted away from the query language customers can even use a library of pre-written queries or share their own back into the community.

Gone are the days of waiting 24 hours for your ETL query to run (yes even at Amazon we had that problem). And just to show how much we believe in removing the moats for customers, the whole solution is also easily portable across cloud providers.

“Nothing can replace courage, resounding motivation and a bit of luck.”

This quote, of course, is from Edmund Hilary and it made me think of the founders, Neil Capel, Nick Gundry and Guy Horrocks. Movac has been following Guy since he co-founded Carnival Labs more or less right out of University. It was one of the world’s leading mobile app agencies developing for brands such as Dreamworks, CNN and Pepsi. He morphed that services business into Carnival.io a mobile marketing automation platform which was then acquired by Sailthru in 2016.

Neil and Guy could have respectably bowed out at that point but felt they had bigger mountains to climb. From their time building and selling marketing automation platforms, their sales blocker was almost always the customers lack of fit-for-purpose data warehousing. This is what inspired them to found Solve.

And while the company is New York based, they are also a distributed team with Neil in New York, Nick leading the product out of Portland Oregon, dev ops and the engineers in Wellington, and Guy seen almost anywhere in New Zealand or NYC where the cool kids hang.

The Edmund Hilary quote was not gratuitous. Two of the exec team have just been selected as Edmund Hilary fellows and are hoping to make it across our border soon. The talent that EHF is bringing to New Zealand right now is pretty astounding and the Solve team are no exception to that rule. At Movac we are super happy to have a chance to stand in as sherpas on their journey.

The NZ VC village

In closing, I wanted to thank some people for helping make this deal happen. Because the thing about our country is that it’s a village, and many hands sometimes touch the ball in small and large ways before it crosses the line.

Thanks to Neil and Guy for saving space for us on the cap table despite being pretty heavily over-subscribed with foreign investors. Thanks to Rose Endean for putting up with our DD process. Thanks to Michael Brown from Bowery Capital in NYC for being willing to partner with the locals. Thanks to Prof David Bell (world’s leading expert in Direct-To-Consumer commerce and kiwi ex-pat) for giving advice, Love our village!