Growth of a viral product: backing RealtimeBoard
First published November 8, 2018
As an investor, I look for many things in a company before I consider supporting it. But there is one factor above all that gets me on the next plane to spend time with its team – a user base that loves the product.
Many companies spend huge amounts of time and money on marketing, only to run into a brick wall of customer indifference. Occasionally you find a really great product that meets a pressing customer need in a new and relevant way. In these cases, growth comes organically and users adopt the product via word of mouth (like Deliveroo in the early days) or the product goes viral (think Slack, Dropbox, etc).
The visual collaboration platform RealtimeBoard, whose Series A round Accel is thrilled to be leading, is one of those rare products.
To explain why, it’s useful to think about how people work collaboratively at the moment, especially in distributed teams. It’s an unwieldy mix of different tools and solutions: we send emails, work on shared documents, use videoconferencing, take photographs of our notes and then send more emails.
RealtimeBoard brings all of that workflow together in one place. It’s a flexible virtual canvas (whiteboard) for visual collaboration.
Whether it’s for agile management in remote teams, product development or UX, it becomes a one-stop shop for the whole project, integrating with all the usual suspects from G Suite to Atlassian, Dropbox and Slack. And it differs from project management tools such as Trello and Asana, as a very flexible product designed to work at the brainstorming stage of a project.
There is simply no other product out there which allows teams to organise all of their creative thinking, from all its various sources, and then to take it forward into implementation. And this is reflected in the fact that their platform has attracted over 2 million users and a broad range of companies amongst its 8,000 paying customers including Cisco, Skyscanner, Netflix and Twitter.
I first met Andrey Khusid, the co-founder and CEO of RealtimeBoard a year ago, and really liked his vision. I reconnected with him earlier this year and was impressed with their progress. And when I realised that many of our portfolio companies use the product, I knew that the company was onto something special. The tipping point in deciding to invest was speaking with customers who describe themselves as fans rather than users. I still remember one particular call when the CTO of a large blue chip technology company told me that the product “spreads like wildfire within the organisation”; I hung up and booked my plane ticket to spend more time with the company.
Over the course of the next several weeks I followed Andrey to San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Perm, Russia - where they have part of the product team, and – (fun fact) where it snowed on the first day of summer! The team showed me how they wanted to take the visual collaboration world by storm, and I showed them how Accel is the best partner for this journey. With 35 years of experience of scaling global technology companies and as early backers of the biggest collaboration companies, including Atlassian, Slack, Dropbox, and others, Accel is really well placed to help Realtimeboard create a new category in visual collaboration.
We are all excited about a more visual future!