Kizen lands $12 million in funding

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Kaizen is the Japanese corporate philosophy of continuous improvement as practiced by the Toyota manufacturing system.

John Winner first discovered kaizen in 2009 while a student at the University of Texas at Austin. The idea resonated with him, and in 2018 Winner named his company Kizen, a domain name an “a” short for kaizen. He bought the domain name from a self-proclaimed prince in the Philippines.

Kizen created the Kizen Operations Cloud, which holds a company’s data and makes it available to operations teams to build applications without coding.

Typically, companies have customer data stored in 50 different places, Winner said. And 68% of all organizations data is lost or used, he said. Kizen can help them leverage that data for actionable insights and customer service and to drive sales and revenue, he said.

“We believe that businesses that can leverage data well in the future will generate the greatest customer satisfaction and the greatest revenue and success,” Winner said.

Kizen also offers the Kizen Sales CRM which helps accelerate sales as it automates up to 10 hours of non-sales activities per week, giving salespeople more time to focus on high value-added tasks.

Since launching Kizen in September 2021, the company has sold over 400,000 user licenses. Its clients include one of the world’s largest banks and dozens of middle-market clients in more than a dozen different industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, fintech and real estate.

And recently, Kizen announced the closing of a $12 million funding round. Kizen plans to use the funds raised on sales and marketing and business intelligence tools. The capital raise was funded by private investors, including several former senior executives from Dell, Whole Foods, AT&T, Accenture and Citibank.

Kizen has 38 employees in the United States, South America and Ukraine, Winner said. She has an office at the Arboretum with a dozen employees, and the company hires sales, marketing, and developers.

Over the past decade, Winner has seen many disparate and disconnected tools companies use to try to solve problems. If these tools are connected together, they work better and solve problems faster and more efficiently, he said. This is what Kizen does.

The winner is from South Florida where he started a few businesses before going to college. He decided to found Kizen in Austin because he thinks it’s one of the best ecosystems to start a business.

“You need to be able to have team members who have experience building enterprise technology that scales to millions of users,” he said. Austin also has plenty of entrepreneurial resources and mentors. Kizen has several Dell mentors, Winner said.

“Austin has been a really special place to incubate,” he said.

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