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Interview with Greg Peters, Zilliant

Last week, Austin-based Zilliant (www.zilliant.com) announced that it had raised another $13M in funding for the company, which develops software for pricing optimization for manufacturers. To get the story behind the funding, and what the firm is up to, we spoke with Greg Peters, the firm's CEO.

Congrats on the new funding. Let's talk about the firm first--how are your product used?

Greg Peters: We have a suite of products that allows manufacturers and distributors in the B2B space to improve pricing and thus improve margin. We help those companies set pricing in the market.

Who are your typical customers?

Greg Peters: We've got a number of target verticals. Our customers range from a couple hundred million to multiple billion dollar companies. Companies in different verticals have used us variable pricing for a long time. The first verticals to use the technology were in the hospitality industry, such as airlines and hotels, going back to the mid 90's. In early 2000, retail emerged as a kind of target vertical, and started to use the technology. Those two are very similar, in that the science is more time-series based, and is focused on market down management. The example is an airline seat, or a hotel room, or a head of lettuce in the grocery, or a winter coat in Boston. Those are all assets that over time, are depreciating, and the question is how to maximize the return on those assets. We focus on a much larger segment, the business to business segment, where transactions are negotiated, there's a much larger basket of good sold, and where that basket is constantly changing. What we do, is we give guidance to a sales force, to direct them in terms of what the right place is to be selling at, for a particular circumstance.

What will you be using the funding for?

Greg Peters: We're going to continue to drive innovation. We've been driving innovation in terms of unique ways, figuring out how science can be used to improve the sales experience for our customers. We've also been supporting an additional business model, which started about a year ago, a subscription service, as opposed to a more traditional perpetual license. That's a new offering on the marketplace, and we've seen our customers accelerating using that model.

Why the new funding? Your firm looks to have a long funding history…

Greg Peters: The funding was accomplished with all insiders. The investor group have all been familiar with the company for a number of years, and has seen the direction we have from an innovation standpoint. They've seen what we have in development and what is on cue to come out later this year, as well as what has been happening with the software-as-a-service business, and wants to accelerate both.

Has it been difficult to shift from traditional software to the SaaS model?

Greg Peters: We're still in the midst of it, and certainly being private is an advantage to going and do that. I think that's clearly one of the things where the benefits are long term, and continue to build in this market. We're seeing significant interest from prospective customers in terms of their desire to purchase that way. The culmination of our investors seeing some success, and a belief in where the market going and the market opportunity, is how we put this round together.

Finally, how big is the firm now, and what's the next big goal for the firm?

Greg Peters: We've got 130 employees now, and our principal goal is to continue to be a market innovator, and drive tremendous value for our customers. If we continue to do both of those things, we'll continue to grow, and will be will be very successful.

Thanks, and good luck!