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, the Czech start-up, which obtained its very first investment from Jakub Havrlant and his Rockaway Capital group, announced another important milestone – in a new investment round, Productboard has obtained 72 million dollars. It will use these funds to accelerate growth, scale the software further, and above all hire the best experts in the world.
Productboard helps product managers develop the right products based on customers’ needs and take them to market as quickly as possible. In recent years the company has succeeded in developing comprehensive software used for product development planning by customers such as Zoom, Microsoft, Disney and more than four thousand other companies. Aside from stellar customer names, the company founded by Hubert Palán and Daniel Hejl has also attracted additional prestigious investors – the Series C investment round was managed by New York-based Tiger Global Management, which focuses on investments up to the growth phase of mature start-ups (for example Airbnb, Uber, Peloton, Stripe, and Coinbase). Investors from previous rounds also participated in the Series C round.
“The most valuable companies in the world are those who understand customer needs perfectly and satisfy them with top-notch products. So, it’s remarkable that most companies still don’t have a system that would help them correlate information regarding their plans and the needs of the market with customer feedback. A system that would help them decide what direction to take in product development. Productboard fills this hole in the market and offers a unique product management system that can even by used by large companies and corporations,” says Hubert Palán regarding the success of Productboard. “The world is undergoing digitalization, and the events of the past year have accelerated everything. Productboard is doing extremely well. We’d arrived at a point where we didn’t need new funding, but simply put, opportunities presented themselves that we couldn’t refuse and that will help us accelerate even more. We’ve got ambitious goals: by the end of the year, we want to grow the team by at least another hundred people,” adds Humbert, who is the company’s CEO.
230 people. Prague, San Francisco, Vancouver, and remote work
Over the past twelve months, the Productboard team has doubled. A total of 230 people work for the company in Prague, San Francisco, and Vancouver, and the company has no plans to slow down. It wants to hire another 100 new colleagues just by the end of the year, including not only developers and product managers, but also in the area of sales, marketing, and for its customer success department, which ensures that customers use the company’s software as best and effectively as possible. The company intends to increase staff in all three current locations, and will also soon open offices in Dublin, Ireland. “Since the beginning we’ve been straddling Prague and California and have been building the company in a distributed manner. Remote work had already been a major discussion point for us even before Covid. But we don’t believe that it will be possible to build high-quality products and successful teams exclusively via Zoom. Personal encounters will continue to be key for building corporate culture and for the search for innovation,” adds Daniel Hejl, the second founder and CTO. This, too, is why Productboard built new offices in Prague’s Palmovka neighbourhood.
For Productboard, employees are as important as having a top-notch product, which is also why it is making significant investments in caring for them. For example, during the pandemic the company started paying for home office equipment and furnishings, childcare, internet connection upgrades, lunch deliveries, or subscriptions to the Headspace meditation application. Productboard thus ranks among the best start-up employers – Forbes recently ranked it in 22nd place out of 2500 evaluated companies.
Productboard’s key customers include Microsoft, Avast, Disney, JCDecaux, Zendesk, Unity, Zoom, as well as UiPath, which has been called the fasted-growing enterprise software company in the world. Productboard’s current and expected success is due to the need to digitalize most of today’s services. Thanks to cloud-based software (SaaS) through which digital product development can be managed and administered, a number of often inefficient tasks are moving to the Productboard platform. The system developed by Daniel Hejl’s team concentrates various and sundry information that had formerly been scattered about in emails, Slack, or MS Teams, in customer surveys, CRM-type systems, or tools used to communicate with customers. This aggregate information gives the company, more precisely the product manager, a comprehensive overview of product development and customer requirements, as well as potential opportunities.
137 million dollars from the best
The company was founded by the aforementioned duo in 2014. The company received its first $ 400,000 in 2015 from Rockaway Capital, and a year later another $ 1.3 million was added by Credo Ventures, the Euro-American company Index Ventures, and Reflex Capital. In September 2016 Productboard presented the first public version of its system in the US during TechCrunch’s Disrupt Startup Battlefield. In July 2018 investment round A occurred, with the main investor being the world-renowned Kleiner Perkins fund. This investment round was then extended by existing investors under the management of Index Ventures by another $ 10 million. In January 2020 Sequoia Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners invested $ 45 million into the company. All told, Productboard thus obtained $ 137 million from investors to fund its growth and implement its vision, i.e., almost three billion Czech crowns. However, Jakub Havrlant’s investment group has backed it from the beginning.
“It’s an amazing and almost unbelievable success story that proves that Czechs are truly capable of succeeding globally. And given the size of the investment round and the names the participants, it’s also proof that Productboard is clearly on its way to becoming the first Czech unicorn; personally, I’d say it’s already a done deal,” says Dušan Zábrodský, Rockaway Capital investment partner. “I admit that when in 2015 Jakub Havrlant and I were driving around the US West Coast and we first ran into Hubert Palán, it didn’t occur to any of us that Productboard would grow into what it has. But we’re glad that back then we were the first to give Hubert an investment and that today we can celebrate success with him. It’s all the more valuable due to the fact that in contrast to other start-ups, Productboard wasn’t helped by the current Covid-19 pandemic in any particular way. Simply put, they’ve got a good product whose time has come, and so now they’re riding a huge wave.”