Productboard, the San Francisco and Prague-based startup that offers product management software, has raised $10 million in further funding, adding to its Series A in July last year. The round is led by Index Ventures, and sees Index General Partner Jan Hammer joining the board.
Also participating is previous backers Kleiner Perkins, Credo Ventures, Rockaway Capital and Reflex Capital. It brings total funding for Productboard to $19.7 million, while I understand from sources that the company’s valuation increased three-fold since the A round and is “close to a 9-digit figure.”
Founded in 2014 by Hubert Palan and Daniel Hejl, Productboard has developed a “product management system” to help companies deliver better experiences for customers, faster. Specifically, the cloud software is designed to bridge the gap between customer feedback and feature requests and a company’s product road map, thus doing away with the use of disparate tools such as chat apps, email, spreadsheets and PowerPoint.
More broadly, the former Startup Battlefield company fits into and is helping to drive the trend that is seeing winning companies understand they need to become “product-first,” as a new generation of consumers set a much higher bar in terms of product experiences and future expectations.
“As competition in the digital space heats up, it takes only a couple of years for a great new product to dominate the market, [and] companies realize that their only way of survival is to deliver the right products to market faster than others,” Productboard co-founder and CEO Hubert Palan tells me. “That is why product management has been an increasingly critical and growing role. What was once a job based on simply gathering customer requirements to send to engineering teams has become a much more strategic role, gaining more influence in the C-suite.”
However, in spite of the growing importance of product management — from startups to much larger enterprises — Palan says there hasn’t before existed a dedicated system for product teams to ensure that they’re building the right products. While sales people have Salesforce and marketers have Marketo, he says product managers have traditionally had to use an assortment of PowerPoint, email, Post-It Notes, Slack and “many other generic task management and engineering tools,” which aren’t really up to the job.
Productboard draws from the so-called “Product Excellence” framework, an approach to product management that emphasizes getting the right products to market faster through “deep user insight, a clear product strategy and coherent road map.” The online software wants serve as the system of record — or “single source of truth” — for all customer insights, strategy and road maps in order to help align everyone on what to build next.
Product managers can capture all of their feature ideas organized by user need or product area. Different feature ideas can be prioritised based on objectives, an auto-calculated “User Impact Score,” and other criteria.
Next product managers can consolidate all ideas, requests and feedback from various channels, such as Intercom, Zendesk, email, Slack, surveys, CRM systems, NPS tools, etc. into a single repository for user insights. They also can import user research and submit notes from meetings with prospects and customers.
Finally, Palan says they’re able to rally everyone around their plans by creating interactive road maps. “They can share different versions with different audiences, and all road map versions automatically update as plans evolve,” he explains. Productboard also integrates with engineering task management systems such as JIRA, PivotalTracker, GitHub and Trello to support communication between product management and engineering teams.
“Our customers span a broad range of categories and industries, including SaaS solutions, e-commerce platforms, medical device manufacturers, academic journals, news outlets, book publishers, on-demand services and brick and mortar stores transitioning to digital storefronts,” adds Palan.
“Our main users are product management teams encompassing everyone from associate product managers to chief product officers. Many of our users are also user researchers, designers, product marketers, project managers and similar roles, who may not have the title of ‘product manager,’ but lead their company’s efforts to deliver the right products for their customers.”
To that end, Productboard claims 1,600 customers. They include UiPath, Envoy, MetroMile, Houzz, Macmillan, Unity, Twilio, SproutSocial, Avast, BambooHR and many others.