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AZ Tech Beat | March 26, 2017

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IRIS, public relations management software co., raises $1 M equity seed round – interview with CEO Aly Saxe

IRIS, public relations management software co., raises $1 M equity seed round – interview with CEO Aly Saxe
Tishin Donkersley

Founded by a veteran public relations professional, IRIS, a cloud-based public relations management SaaS platform, helps streamline an agency’s administrative tasks and get pros back to doing what they love-creating buzz for their clients.

Today the company announced a $1 million equity seed-preferred round, bringing their total funding to $1.25 million.

CEO and founder Aly Saxe sat down with us to share more about her journey from public relations (PR) pro to techpreneur.

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Saxe, a 12-year PR specialist in the tech space, originally designed IRIS to help solve administrative challenges within her own agency.

For PR account managers, the majority of paper-pushing tasks include building and executing client campaigns, pitching to journalists, responding to queries, generating reports and managing relationships, Saxe explained.

Agencies could be running “three to four campaigns per client at a time,” Saxe said. “Most agencies have 10 to 30 clients at a time and seeing all the activity across the board in real-time is impossible.”

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Currently, professionals are using old CRM software for their contacts and archaic methods, spreadsheets included, to organize campaigns, manage team workflow and calculate success rates, Saxe explained.

Through IRIS, the intuitive platform has a centralized location where a team can track progress, eliminate task overlap (many times pitching the same journalist), help identify which pitch points worked, increase efficiency and calculate a percentage of success for each account-ultimately maximizing the client’s budget.

In addition, IRIS helps eliminate recreating the wheel for previous client efforts. “If I’ve put together a successful campaign and want to replicate that, then I don’t have to start from scratch and go through all the Dropbox folders, spreadsheets and emails,” Saxe said. “It’s all right there. I have a full playbook.”

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With the average PR rate being $125/hour, Saxe estimated that IRIS, on average, saves PR teams an hour a week per team member on billable tasks.

IRIS has gained adoption with in-house and outside agencies throughout the Valley, as well as converting the BETA testers to paying clients.

With the $250,000 win from the Fall 2014 ACA Arizona Innovation Challenge and current raise from angel investors, the company will be able to build out the development team and roll out new features, Saxe said. Jobs are also on the way as IRIS plans to add more employees to sales, marketing and customer success.

Through automation, IRIS allows the PR teams to work collaboratively, efficiently and provide more data about success rates to their client, Saxe said.

 

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For Saxe, this journey has been life-changing and the support from the community has been amazing.

“You make this thing and it works for you and it changed your life, and you see that it can change other people’s lives and that’s really the coolest thing ever,” Saxe said. “To see that other people in my community believe in this idea and are willing to put their money on the line is probably the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me, next to my kids.”

Read more about startups getting funded in Arizona