Unicorn Status Unlocked: Here’s the Story Behind It

Hande Cilingir

Mar 7, 2022

Unicorn Status Unlocked: Here’s the Story Behind It Featured Image
Hande Cilingir

Mar 7, 2022

Today, I’m thrilled to share that Insider has raised a $121M Series D. The round was led by QIA, with participation from Sequoia, Riverwood Capital, 212, Wamda Capital, Esas Private Equity, and Endeavor Catalyst.

Closing our Series C in the midst of the pandemic’s uncertainty, we never lost sight of our mission. We focused on growing our executive team and building a world-class AI-led marketing product with the fastest time to value for our customers.

When I started the company with my five co-founders in 2012, we had bold ambitions and knew our journey wouldn’t be smooth. For Serhat Soyuerel (Chief Revenue Officer) and I, this was our second startup journey, and despite going into it with knowledge and experience, we knew there wasn’t a cookie-cutter formula to success. Sure, there are some common ingredients like vision, grit, and courage, still, the road to success never looks the same. 

We launched Insider because we saw a gap in the market. In a world increasingly powered by data, we sought to create an alternative to the big and expensive clouds that weren’t solving marketers’ pain points or meeting their needs for agility in an interconnected world.

Table of Contents
  1. How it started: Six friends. Six desks. 

  2. Blitzscaling

  3. Humanizing customer experiences

  4. So what’s the next chapter of our story?

How it started: Six friends. Six desks. 

So we set to, creating a next-generation marketing platform. It started small: six friends, six desks. Truth be told, it wasn’t easy. Long nights, steep learning curves, plus the occasional hard-to-swallow lessons, took their toll, but we stuck it out.

Fueled by a desire to create the first platform-of-choice for marketers, we spoke with our customers and integrated their feedback into the solutions we created. Our desire to keep improving and delivering on that promise for our customers got the attention of not only marketers, but also analysts and investors.  

Our major milestone came when we became the first company in Turkey and the third company in Europe to attract investment from Sequoia. Now, with our Series D and $1.22B valuation, we’re not slowing down. 


Over the last decade, we’ve grown to more than 700 employees, across 28 countries and 41 nationalities. I’m incredibly proud to say that we are a women-led organization: 60% of top executives in the company, including the CEO, CMO, CFO, and CHRO are women. In the past three years we grew 3X and we welcomed market-leading brands, including ALDO, PUMA, McDonald’s, Unilever, Pizza Hut, Clarins, L’Oréal, Adidas, New Balance, Santander, Madeira Madeira, and more.

Humanizing customer experiences

People produce a mind-boggling amount of data every day. And 90% of that data was produced in the last two years. Data has tremendous applications, but only if it’s usable and connected to an actionable platform. That’s exactly what we’re building for marketers: a powerful, yet easy-to-use cross-channel personalization platform that enables them to use the data they have to build relevant and meaningful journeys for their customers. 

We are helping brands humanize customer experiences. Imagine a mother of three, coming back from work, stuck in traffic, typing away on WhatsApp to her nanny. At that moment, knowing she is active on her mobile, Insider triggers a WhatsApp notification reminding her about the abandoned diapers in her cart. Plus, she gets 15% off if she makes the purchase in the next hour. She feels so grateful towards the brand who caught her at the right time, reminded her of something vital she forgot and gave her a discount. To win your customers’ hearts, that’s the level of individualization you need to deliver as a brand. 

Brands that want to become unicorns need a relentless focus on data-driven experience and a genuine desire to understand and serve their customers. Insider gives them the tools to do both. 

So what’s the next chapter of our story? 

Expansion. Our Series D will help drive our global footprint, enhance our core technologies, and grow our sales and marketing teams. We’re looking to add 2,000 employees to our team over the next four years and are committed to hiring women engineers to fill R&D and product development roles. 

Most importantly, we will continue to challenge traditional marketing technologies with the widest array of industry-first products for AI-powered personalization on emerging messaging apps such as WhatsApp, RCS, Facebook Messenger, and SMS.

And we wouldn’t have reached this incredible milestone without our global community of 1,000+ customers creating “something better.” Your ingenious ideas, driven by your vertical’s specific needs, have shaped our product. You continue to inspire us, and we’re delighted to co-create the future of customer experience together.

Finally, thank you to every Insider. It’s because of your extraordinary dedication and hard work that we’re where we are today. Your sparks of insight fuel our transformation and move us forward.

As we always say, builders gotta build. If you think you’re made to build and nothing makes you feel more alive. We’re hiring, everywhere. Check out our open positions: https://useinsider.com/careers/

Co-founder and CEO at Insider, Hande Cilingir is one of the few women leaders to have found and led a B2B SaaS company to a one billion dollar valuation. Responsible for building the world’s most progressive technology company, with 1000+ team members, representing 51 different nationalities. Under Hande’s leadership, Insider has unlocked #1 leader status everywhere with a platform loved by analysts like Forrester, Gartner, and IDC, trusted by 1,200+ of the world’s leading brands and voted ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ by G2 users. Insider recently unlocked unicorn status and NASDAQ congratulated the company for becoming one of the few woman-founded, women-led B2B SaaS unicorns worldwide. CrunchBase recently ranked Insider’s co-founder and CEO Hande Cilingir as one of the top women CEOs.