Surefire Local Shoots for 50% Growth in 2021 with TIMIA Capital

By Catherine Daly

Posted September 10, 2020

Chris Marentis, CEO

In August 2020, TIMIA Capital announced a US $3 million investment facility for Surefire Local, a Virginia-based marketing technology company.

Following the announcement, our team caught up with Surefire Local’s CEO, Chris Marentis to find out more about its growth strategy and ambitious plans for the future.

Surefire Local’s Mission

Established in 2009, Surefire Local provides a complete local marketing platform designed to simplify online marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. The company’s mission is to help entrepreneurs across the world save more time, maximize ROI, and grow profitably.

With over $12 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR), Surefire Local has a proven product-market fit and is a seven-consecutive year Inc. 5000 company.

Today, almost 2,000 businesses rely on Surefire Local‘s flagship product, Surefire Local Marketing Platform™, to remove digital roadblocks hindering growth, gain insights, and take action to attract and engage customers through measurable, multi-channel marketing activities.

Prioritizing Scalability

As the company gained momentum, the team prioritized infrastructure investments to ensure its product could scale along with its growth rate, while ensuring minimum customer churn.

The board decided it would be unwise to raise capital to grow really fast and then have the wheels come off the bus because we weren’t in a position to accommodate that growth,” said Chris Marentis, CEO of Surefire Local. “As such, we paused our growth efforts temporarily last year to focus on scalability and product-market fit initiatives.

With its robust product infrastructure now in place, Surefire Local is turning its focus back to growth.

Now is the time to push on the growth lever,” said Chris. “I want to signal to the industry that we’re out to win and that we’ve got a better model. Because we took the time to build the product and the infrastructure, we will outstrip the competition who are facing high churn rates.

Investing in Sales and Marketing

In anticipation of the TIMIA investment, Surefire Local appointed Mike Pierce as Chief Revenue Officer. Mike’s immediate focus will be on hiring sales executives and management as the company establishes a new office in Austin, Texas.

We doubled our sales staff in one week following the TIMIA investment,” said Chris. “Once that new capacity is fully operational, we’ll focus on lead generation and top-of-the-funnel activities to ignite growth.

Once the sales and marketing engine is operating effectively, the Surefire Local team aims to expand globally to other regions where entrepreneurs need help with local marketing. And with partnerships like Yext, Google, Facebook, Yellow Pages, and Yelp, Surefire Local is primed to become one of the top local marketing platforms in the world.

Growing a Diverse Business

With approximately 65 employees in the U.S. and about 90 in Manila in the Philippines, Surefire Local boasts a diverse workforce. It has an even gender split across the business, including on the leadership team, and has a diverse group of employees from countries around the world.

“I’m so proud of our diversity — it’s one of our biggest strengths,” said Chris. “Culture is very important to us here. We’re deliberate in how we build our culture. We’ve established five principles around how we connect with each other including radical candor, empathy, fun, creativity, and curiosity.

Capital-Efficient Growth

Surefire Local has always subscribed to a capital-efficient model, focusing on product-market fit, scalability, and deliberate, sustainable growth. The management team does not believe in taking on too much capital, too early.

A lot of businesses like ours get themselves in trouble because they bring on a lot of private equity and venture funding. When the time comes for a liquidity event, the employees and entrepreneurs don’t fare too well,” said Chris. “We’ve taken a different approach.

Why Non-Dilutive Financing?

Growth equity firms typically look at companies greater than $8-10 million ARR — but they also want to see strong growth rates before delivering a reasonable multiple in terms of valuation.

Surefire Local has already ticked the attractive ARR box. By using TIMIA’s non-dilutive investment to fuel sales and marketing, Surefire Local will boost its growth rate to 50% and be in a great position to increase its valuation down the line.

“We want to exit 2021 at about $20 million in ARR,” said Chris. “This puts us in a great position to get a 4x or 5x multiple in an equity round. Today, we’d be lucky to get 2x or 3x ARR.”

This multiplier was a no-brainer for Surefire Local.

TIMIA’s investment is simply cheaper capital,” said Chris. “There are equity firms who would happily give us more money right now. But because of the low valuation they would offer, the cost of capital would be enormous in the medium- to long-term.

Why TIMIA Capital

Chris was researching venture debt options when he came across TIMIA Capital for the first time.

We were talking with all the usual suspects but TIMIA just won outright — because they have a team of really great people. They were so supportive, good listeners, and they really strived to understand our business case and what we’re trying to do.

Surefire Local availed of TIMIA Capital’s Springboard Loan. These loans are perfect for companies seeking to grow their valuations before a venture capital funding round. The Springboard is generally for companies with greater than $3 million in ARR and with low cash burn — companies that just need some cash to take them the final mile to their end goal.

What’s cool about this relationship is that, as long as we keep delivering on the plan, the available capital could negate the need to do a private equity deal for a long time,” said Chris. “We now have a capital partner that creates financial flexibility for us and will continue to invest as we continue to grow.

Surefire Local is primed and ready for sustainable growth and we’re delighted to partner with them as they continue their journey supporting SMBs with local marketing solutions.

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