• From modest roots, Austin’s Invenio grows into $55 million business

    Lori Hawkins – American-Statesman Staff

    Tucked quietly into offices in North Austin, sales firm Invenio Solutions is preparing for a burst of growth.

    The company, which specializes in lead development and business-to-business sales, has more than doubled its workforce over the past five years to 525 people.

    John-Grady-CEO- Invenio-Solutions

    Revenue has increased from $18 million in 2010 to $55 million last year, and the company, which has raised no outside funding, has been profitable for the past 14 years, said CEO John Grady.

    Thanks to a new contract with a telecom company, Invenio is launching a new wave of hiring. It plans to add up to 125 sales people within the next four months at its Austin headquarters at Metric Boulevard and Braker Lane.

    “These are permanent jobs. We don’t believe in temporary or part-time,” Grady said. “These are people’s livelihoods and we’re not going to yank their chain around by bringing them on for three months and firing them. We want them to grow with the company.”

    Invenio works as a go-between in business-to-business transactions. For instance, a telecom provider might use Invenio to sell its services to another business.

    The company typically works in higher-end transactions, acting as a middle man between two companies or brokering a deal on behalf of a client.

    Past and present clients include big names such as General Electric, IBM, Lockhead Martin, Microsoft, Shell Oil and AT&T.

    Invenio’s roots go back to a small Austin sales company called Lead Dogs, which Grady purchased in 2001 after leaving a six-year marketing stint at Dell Inc.

    “I never got to a very high level at Dell, but I had enough stock that I was able to buy this little company for a very good price,” Grady said. “We’re basically inside sales for large corporate customers. I was able to put some things in place and get the company moving forward.”

    In 2010, a slow economy prompted Grady to purchase two other firms – Winchester, Va.-based InteliTarget and Left Coast Marketing in Los Angeles – and merge them with Lead Dogs to create Invenio Solutions.

    “We tend to be able to survive low markets because everybody wants leads. But it was time to put a little boost back in our engines,” Grady says, adding that the acquisitions “opened some new markets for us. It also energized people as well as brought us some new clients and some new talent. We are a sales engine, so the biggest thing that makes us run is our people.”

    That’s why the company’s hiring process is time consuming.

    “We have tests we put our potential hires through because we now have a profile that tells us who will succeed,” Grady said. “For example, a sales person has to have a certain amount of aggression, but we don’t want too much. We also measure other factors such as level of intelligence and being able to speak well and write well.”

    Joshua Maxwell, Invenio’s vice president of strategic accounts, said “it costs a lot of money to recruit the right people, but that is certainly where we think a big investment should go. We’ve got to start out with the right people.”

    The testing only intensifies once a prospect is hired. Invenio measures everything from how long it takes to close the first sale to other metrics that are used to adjust the sales process.

    “The metrics tell us what to tweak,” Maxwell said. “We can determine who we should target in the organization, what time of day to call and how making other adjustments can change the outcome. Our sales group are all called sales scientists, and they live and breathe the sales science culture.”

    Find the full article at the Austin American Statesmen.

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