A professional soccer player, an actuary, a consulting manager. Max Palko could have become all of these, but – luckily for the Rockaway team – life led him elsewhere and finally led him to the position of investment…
Today productboard announced a $45M Series B led by Sequoia Capital with new investor Bessemer Venture Partners and participation from our previous investors. Why are top VCs betting big on dedicated product management systems? Because product management systems will change how companies are run as much as CRMs did.
We couldn’t wish for a better start of 2020. The world’s finest venture investors recognize the opportunity to change how digital products are made. It seems unbelievable that in the era of the digitization of everything, the product teams responsible for bringing the most important products to the market don’t have a dedicated system of record. It is mind-boggling that product decisions that are foundational to companies’ survival happen in spreadsheets, simple task and project management tools, or engineering ticketing tools.
Here at productboard, we see that the winning companies think and act differently. They understand that in this fast-paced, competitive market, a different approach is needed. Product vision, product strategy, and product execution need to come together, standardized around a rigorous process and supported by a system optimized for collaborative product management.
“Product is too important and too central in organizations to rely on general-purpose tools. There needs to be a System of Record for Product that not only consolidates inputs to support prioritization decisions, but closes the loop with the customers and teammates who provided them to align everyone around a more strategic, data-driven roadmap. productboard is building the System of Record for Product and we’re thrilled to partner with them and help companies get the right products to market, faster.”
— Andrew Reed, Partner, Sequoia
The best companies recognize that product teams and everyone around them need to work together to gain deep user insights, drive towards clear objectives, and execute with alignment.
This mindset is not a matter of differentiation, it is a matter of survival. Welcome to the era where companies grow from 0 to $100M in recurring revenue in 21 months. (That’s the story of UiPath, a productboard customer!) Welcome to the era where if you don’t get your products right, you get no second chance.
productboard is entering this new decade with 2,500 customers representing companies that understand the market urgency. We have the ambition to help many, many more product teams out there make extraordinary products.
We are grateful to our investors, humbled by the caliber of our customers, and excited to scale our company and the whole product management systems category.
“I spent so much time searching the internet for the perfect product management solution, and once I saw productboard, I thought: ‘they just understand how product management works and how it’s supposed to be.’”
— Andrew Leader, Product Manager, Microsoft
The challenges of making products today
Even as we enter a new decade, product organizations continue to face the same common challenges:
- Are we building the right product that solves real user needs?
- Are we pursuing a clear strategy?
- Is everyone aligned on the product roadmap?
For product teams these challenges may be age-old, but recent shifts have significantly increased the stakes.
Products must address real user needs
In this era of heightened competition, when brand loyalty is at an all-time low, when customers prefer self-serve, when a referral from a friend carries more weight than a hundred ads, more than ever, products must speak for themselves. That’s the premise of the product-led growth we’ve been hearing so much about. And it’s why the success of entire companies increasingly hinges on how well products meet user needs through every step of the user journey.
There are more channels than ever for users to send feedback that informs the direction of products they use most — email, chat tools, NPS widgets, modern support platforms, feature request forums and Product Portals. Customer-facing colleagues relay feedback through CRMs, support platforms, and Slack. Yet for most product teams, these insights aren’t on hand, or in an actionable format, to help them prioritize what to build next.
“Achieving product excellence is absolutely critical for enterprises today. Product teams engage with users frequently across an ever-increasing array of channels and sources, but these interactions often remain siloed inside functional areas. That’s why I’m excited about productboard being the system of record for high-performing product organizations because it enables teams to glean insights from users and build products that matter to customers.”
— Byron Deeter, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners
Pursuing a clear strategy is non-negotiable
Every product leader knows it’s a daily battle to escape the cycle of reactivity — a vortex of feature requests, competitive pressures, and pet ideas of powerful stakeholders with strong opinions and little data to support them. But there’s no time to waste now that new competitors arrive overnight, handily dethroning those who lack a clear product strategy or the tenacity to stick to it.
Like CRMs did for sales, product management systems will help product teams approach their work in a more data-driven, transparent, and process-oriented way, ensuring each team’s efforts align with clear product objectives that in turn support company goals.
“productboard has really helped us centralize our operations around product management. Now our product teams have one place to go.”
— Aakesh Pattani, VP Product Delivery, Checkout.com
Product leaders must align their teams, and organizations
We’ve long known better than to toss requirements over the wall for the delivery team to blindly execute. But empowering colleagues with the user and business context they need to be effective problem-solvers demands an underlying system product teams simply haven’t had until now.
Meanwhile, colleagues across the organization increasingly seek a sense of purpose in their work. As they market, sell, and support the product, they benefit when they understand where it’s headed and why, and thrive when they feel part of something greater. The morale and direction of entire organizations hang in the balance.
“At UiPath, we started using productboard with 50 employees in 2017. Today we have 3,000. With product managers all over the world, we needed something to communicate what’s on the roadmap, what products we are working on, and what teams around the world are working on this week, month, quarter, and year. productboard has been crucial for this. All our core products that have taken us this far are in productboard.”
— Mircea Grigore, Product Lead, UiPath
What’s next for productboard
For product managers and product leaders and product makers of all stripes, there’s so much to look forward to…
We envision a product management system that will intelligently alert you of new trends around what different user segments need as those insights arrive.
We foresee an open, interconnected product system that syncs with any number of data sources for market insights, user insights, customer data, product delivery data, and product usage data. And we anticipate more ways to put that data to use in building the right features in the right way.
We’re looking forward to more automations and product-specific workflows that reduce the burden of manual, repetitive, or administrative tasks, leaving you with more time to spend on the most creative and enjoyable aspects of making products.
We see a centralized product hub that everyone in the organization will benefit from. Marketers will refer to user insights about features to find language that resonates. Customer success will see all that’s been shipped to address the needs voiced by a major customer before they’re up for renewal. Sales will be able to communicate deal-breakers raised by their prospects and have better ways of tracking the status of resulting features.
We’ll be working toward making all this a reality in productboard and have already begun work on several of these areas! In fact, our teams will soon be releasing new types of roadmap visualizations, allowing you to rally stakeholders around your product plans in a whole new way.
(See our team’s Product Portal for everything that’s currently planned, as well as ideas we’re still considering and what we’ve recently launched!)
“With intelligent trend-spotting, interconnected systems, time-saving automations, and product-specific workflows, product management systems will revolutionize product as much as CRMs revolutionized sales. And that’s just the beginning, because everyone in the organization will benefit from a centralized product system.”
— Andrej Danko, VP Product, productboard
Big thanks to our investors
Our sincere thanks to all of our investors for recognizing the product management system opportunity and supporting us along the way. Andrew Reed from Sequoia joins our board of directors and Bessemer’s Byron Deeter will contribute as an observer. We are incredibly grateful for the support of the world’s best. Joining their portfolio of revolutionary companies is a great honor and an inspiration to make an even bigger impact in the years to come. We are also grateful for additional support from David Sacks at Craft Ventures, who joins our growing number of strategic investors with deep industry and product expertise.
Making an impact together as a team is a big part of our company’s mission and we couldn’t wish for a better group of people to propel us forward. Ilya Fushman at Kleiner Perkins and Jan Hammer and Nina Achadjian at Index Ventures have been exceptional in helping us build a strong company. And nothing would happen without the early foresight by Ondrej Bartos at Credo Ventures, Ondrej Fryc at Reflex Capital, and Jakub Havrlant at Rockaway Capital.
Thank you all for being part of our journey. It is still just the beginning!
Making products that matter, together
Above all, we’ll keep striving to help product teams across the globe make products that matter, together. That’s what we aim to enable for our customers and it’s how we operate as a company. To get there we’ll be seeking more great makers and doers to join our team of product dreamers and visionaries. (Today we’re 120 strong and rapidly growing!) If you know anyone who’d fit right in, or if you’re looking for a new opportunity in San Francisco, Prague, or Vancouver, stop by our careers page to learn more. We’d love to hear from you!
Photo: Nguyen Duy McLavin/CzechCrunch