Arcade launches ‘try before you buy’ demo capabilities with $2.5M in new capital

With so many apps and tools out there to try, most companies ask you to fill out a standard form and then create a username and password. Once you get through all of that, you find that the app was not all it was cracked up to be.

Arcade is out to change that. The interactive demo company, which launched to the public today, is making it easier for companies to create demonstration videos, called “arcades,” that walk people through how their tools work.

Former Atlassian co-workers Caroline Clark and Rich Manalang are behind the company, which also announced $2.5 million in seed funding led by Upfront Ventures, with participation by Sequoia, Bond and a group of angel investors, including Mathilde Collin, Laura Behrens Wu, Jaren Glover, Eric Wittman, Jonathan Widawski and Lenny Rachitsky.

Clark and Manalang founded the company in early 2021 and launched it in private beta form last July. It has about 300 on the waitlist so far. Among them, 90 companies started using a free version of the product and have created more than 125 arcades so far.

Arcade remembers what you click on so users can make a version of their demo and then embed snippets of the product into websites, blogs and tweets so that people who haven’t used the product before can see it before signing on for a trial.

Clark, who has a marketing background, told TechCrunch that while she and Manalang were at Atlassian, which she says pioneered the concept of product-led growth, they found that many customers were discovering their products outside of the website. The problem was, they didn’t see a solution for how to make those discoveries better.

“We wanted to create a world where people discovered products in an easy and playful manner that clearly showed what they were getting,” she added.

Customers have always had expectations of products and tools they are buying, but Clark said in the past couple of years, that mindset has shifted to one where they will no longer blindly sign up.

Historically, selling involved hiding behind the demo, and once the company got the person’s information, it was more of a “gotcha” moment. One of Arcade’s customers, Clockwork, which works with financial professionals, often asks potential users to connect their invoices to the product so users can see how Clockwork operates, but that is a big ask, Clark said. By utilizing Arcade, Clockwork is able to give potential customers a taste of what their platform is like without uploading that data. Carta is another customer that is deploying arcades across its social media, Clark said.

The new funding will enable Arcade to build out its product and website as it also looks to add more engineering and product designers. Clark says the team of three have been supporting 90 companies, but she wants to double that by the end of the year.

Going forward, the company is focused on marketing, functionality and distribution.

“We are about helping people know what they are getting into before they load their data,” Clark said. “We plan to invest more in product updates, integration into other properties and how customers can make a more powerful tool.”

Aditi Maliwal, partner at Upfront Ventures, said via email that Clark was a friend that she had known for a couple of years and is “excited to go on a five- to 10 year- — if not longer — journey with.”

“She is a values driven, intellectually honest founder,” Maliwal added. “I invest in strong founders, who I believe have founder-market fit and are building an authentic vision. I knew from very early on that no matter what Caroline was building I would want to invest in it. The PLG market is also growing so quickly, and our worlds are almost entirely virtual at this point. The idea of getting on a Zoom or a call with a sales rep in order to try out a vendor’s product feels disruptive to a users’ needs and flow. It should be much easier to for users to simply see an instance of their data on a vendor’s landing page. Arcade is empowering creators to develop magical experiences and for them to feel proud of their work.”

From the get-go Maliwal believes the founders were both focused on finding design partners who could convert into full-time customers. When they worked at Atlassian, they saw first-hand how powerful showing your product to your prospects and customers can be, she added.

“They understood the pain point very early on and recognize that differentiation comes down to delight in design and keeping it as simple as possible for marketers and for end-users,” Maliwal said. “Finally Caroline and Rich are both invested in building a massive company, starting with a design forward product and a high quality team.”

Editor’s note, Jan. 11, 10:30 a.m. PT: Company amended its list of investors to include Bond.