How Contentstack became a global Content Management leader by leveraging local engineering talent from Mumbai’s suburbs
Earlier in June, Contentstack, the leading Content Experience Platform (CXP), raised $57.5 million in Series B funding, just about 18 months after the company raised its Series A in 2019. Not only was the series B funding round oversubscribed, but it also had three of its existing investors continuing to fund the company along with new investor Georgian. With the Series B funding, Contentstack’s total venture funding touched $89 million.
“The investor confidence stems from the fact that the company has scaled 60X since 2019 and has over the years established itself as a leader in the headless Content Management System (CMS) space. Today Contentstack’s customers serve billions of API calls a day and petabytes of content to its audiences every month. The traffic that Contentstack delivers in a single day is what most other headless CMS players are able to do in a month,” says Neha Sampat, CEO, Contentstack.
How Contentstack is reimagining ‘content experience’
A headless CMS, Contentstack offers an API-first approach that makes it lightning-fast for developers to pipe in content. With Contentstack, an enterprise can model, create, iterate, triage, store, preview and author its content at the same place. The content thus created can be repurposed and published across channels in any desired presentation style. It enables companies to bring their content, i.e text, images, video and audio to not just the web and mobile apps but also platforms like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant, making it like an API that front-end developers can use. Contentstack also gives enterprises the freedom to deploy best-in-class “stacks” for their specific requirements and incorporate unique, turn-key integrations to track customer activity, behaviour, and location for hyper-relevant experiences. This translates into businesses being able to deliver compelling, consistent, personalised and accessible content across a range of digital touchpoints.
“We are creating a platform where businesses don’t ever have to “leave” Contentstack for their specific content publishing needs. The platform can truly “create once, publish everywhere,” says Nishant Patel, Founder and CTO, Contentstack.
Another key aspect that makes Contentstack one of the most preferred CMS for large and medium enterprises across sectors all over the world — from Cisco to Sephora to McDonald’s — is that the company responds quickly to the ever-evolving needs of the market at a much faster pace than conventional CMS providers. “There’s a need for addressing the omnichannel needs of content creators and publishers more than ever, which means we need to innovate rapidly and continuously,” says Neha. The 200+ features and enhancements the company released last year is a testament to Contentstack’s commitment to keep its innovation engine firing on all fours.
Driving innovation from India
As a technology veteran, Nishant brings 22 years of experience solving complex technology and cloud integration problems for large enterprises. He is also a trusted technology advisor to Fortune 500 clients and marquee brands. Speaking from the perspective of a technologist, Nishant reasons that the company’s ability to innovate fast lies in two key factors. First, its modular development approach where every service that gets added or updated is like a product in itself. This translates into each of the product features and services being monitored separately and refactored regularly. “This helps to ensure that the product stays relevant to the market’s current and future needs,” he says.
The other is the company’s strong R&D team. “The 100+ strong engineering and R&D team in India is instrumental in spearheading the company’s innovation initiatives. They are the ones who are anticipating the future needs of our customers,” says Nishant.
From humble beginnings when the company’s engineering and R&D team worked out of a repurposed tile-factory, it now operates out of a 30,000 sq feet state-of-the-art office housed in an engineering college campus in the outskirts of Mumbai. “Attempting to build a global software product in an area where there may not have been a steady availability of good talented engineers was like going against the winds. But, Contentstack’s early breakthroughs in building the product challenged the notion that good engineering talent came only from top colleges,” shares Nishant.
Since then, Contentstack has continued to build its teams and provide opportunities on merit and not on pedigree, says the CTO. “We continue to look for capable engineers and expand our team in India. We believe that the best talent can come from anywhere,” he says.
From a product to a venture-backed company
Today, while Contentstack is taking the headless CMS space by storm, it actually began its journey as a side project. “We started our entrepreneurial journey in 2007 with a technology consultancy called Raw Engineering that helped companies modernise their technology stacks. Large organisations would hire Raw Engineering to implement CMS platforms available at the time to launch new web experiences,” says Neha.
Working on the projects led to the observation that most of the CMS platforms were monolith technology suites. “The world had changed but the technology had not, which means they were unable to build new experiences for new channels,” says the CTO. He explains that while the web was one of the key channels for which companies were creating digital content, the market was demanding a better way to create, consume and manage content across new channels such as mobile, digital kiosks, in-store displays, and many other forms. It was also the time that witnessed the emergence of the whole mobile application ecosystem and the economics related to it. “Content publishing needed to be decoupled from the content presentation interface, to allow for the published content to be delivered to several channels seamlessly,” he says.
The market clearly called for a category-forming product, shares Neha. She adds, “Under Nishant’s leadership as Founder and CTO at Raw Engineering, Nishant ran an R&D incubator to pioneer creation of new products. And, it is here that Contentstack took root in 2011.”
“Even before cloud-based, API-first or omni-channel became industry buzzwords, it was clear to the team that they were fundamental to the CMS platform they were building,” says Nishant.
By 2012, the team was able to build a robust product that addressed the market gap. “We started to sell Contentstack as a SaaS offering in 2014,” says Neha. The years to come saw Contentstack gaining consistent and increased traction.
In 2018, it was instituted as an individual company to further optimise the product’s potential and capture the market demand to manage content and digital experiences. Given that the product was already in the market and backed by clients, it isn’t surprising that Contentstack was quickly able to establish its leadership in a short span of time. Today, with the Series B funding, Contentstack is all set to drive the momentum further ahead. The company plans to fuel international growth especially in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) markets, expand its ecosystem of channel and technology partners and accelerate new technology innovation that has been incubating in Contentstack’s labs.
With an effervescent excitement in the team, the founders rally a rather interesting catch phrase, “Contentstack…Chalo, let’s go!”