As we move deeper into the pandemic, companies are looking for ways to digitize processes that previously required in-person meetings with manual approaches. Investors appear to be rewarding companies that can achieve this. IObeya, a French company that helps digitize management planning processes like lean and agile, announced a $17 million Series A today.
Red River West led the round with help from Atlantic Bridge Capital and Fortino Capital Partners. It has now raised a total of $20 million, according to the company.
Tim McCracken, who heads up the company’s U.S. operations, says the name comes from the Japanese word for the large room where companies did all their planning. Many companies gather a group of people in a conference room and line the walls with sticky notes and white boards with their plans for the coming weeks and months.
Even before the pandemic struck, it wasn’t the most effective way to record this valuable business content, and iObeya has developed a service to put it in the digital realm. “And so one of the things that they did with those obeya rooms was they had lots of different visual management boards with Post-it notes and with different types of indicators that they would use to manage their business. And so what iObeya does is digitize that type of visual management, so that you can access it from multiple locations and share it amongst teams and basically eliminate the need for doing it on paper and on walls,” McCracken explained.
This involves digitizing four main areas that include lean management, factory floor management, agile programming and, finally, what they call the digital workplace, which includes design thinking, virtual whiteboarding and brainstorming. All of these approaches have lots of planning associated with them and could benefit from being moved online.
They are approaching 100 employees, with the majority in France right now, with a small office in the U.S. (in Seattle), but they will be using this money to expand with plans to add 50 more people. He says the company has always looked at diversity when it comes to its hiring practices.
“We want to try to attract, not only experienced salespeople, as well as the support organization around them, but also really do as much outreach in the local community to see how we can ensure that our workforce reflects the community,” he said.
As the company had to shut down offices due to COVID-19, McCracken says their own software helped them make that transition more smoothly. “We actually use our own software to manage business so we had very little disruption to our actual work. At the same time, the volume of work increased probably four to five fold, simply because of increased demand for the software. So we had to manage not only moving from working in an office to work at home, but also the increased workload,” he said.
The company was founded near Paris in 2011. They plan to use the money to expand operations in the U.S. and build awareness of the company through greater sales and marketing spend.