UserMind wants to be the “speed ladder” of the enterprise world — it aims to make businesses more agile and able to change direction faster.
For this goal, the stealthy startup has raised $7.6 million from a high-profile crew of investors to bring its product to market.
UserMind is developing software that makes it easier for business operations teams to integrate multiple software applications, creating stronger connections between the teams, applications, and data.
“SaaS companies have created a massive change in business models and in the front office — it’s a subscription economy now, and for first time you don’t need IT people,” said cofounder and CEO Michel Feaster in an interview with VentureBeat. “But all the operations folks who are selecting, configuring, and changing hundreds of applications that make up the business are underserved.”
UserMind is still in stealth mode, so Feaster was vague on specifics of the tech. However, she did go into detail about the problem that UserMind is trying to solve.
A single business will use multiple different software vendors for marketing, sales, and customer service processes. These functions are generally separate (aka “siloed”), and businesses of all sizes struggle with the complications that arise from getting everything to sync and work together seamlessly. Integration is a serious issue, and one of the major challenges that prevents enterprises from iterating as quickly as they can.
“If you open up the kimono inside of a company, data could be spread across Marketo and Salesforce and ZenDesk,” Feaster said. “If you want to change one process, like a sign-up or your business model, you have to change it everywhere. It is so hard to implement a business idea that companies are much less agile — integrations are very fragile, and that slows innovation in companies down. It’s the main bottleneck in evolving a company.
Feaster and cofounder Przemek Pardyak experienced these issues first hand over the course of their careers. Feaster started her career at IT management software company Mercury Interactive, which HP acquired in 2006 for $4.5 billion. She then went on to serve as VP of products at Apptio, which helps IT leaders manage their technology. Pardyak was a cofounder of Performant, which Mercury Interactive bought, and then of Doyenz, which Persistent acquired.
All this experience with enterprise IT gave them a deep set of expertise, which Feaster said provides the “horsepower” to take on this massive challenge.
Feaster and Pardyak interviewed dozens of business and upward of a hundreds employees to learn about their specific BizOps problems and founded UserMind in 2013.
“We gathered a lot of evidence about how acute this pain is, how much value there is in solving this problem, and the market opportunity,” Feaster said. “This has a big business impact, The more agile a company, the more competitive a company can be. The outcome of being more agile is very strategic to execs.”
VCs also responded well to this idea. Andreessen Horowitz led this $7.6 million round, with participation from Charles Rivers Ventures and SV Angel. Feaster said that the initial plan was to raise a seed round of $1 to $2 million, but when investors saw the idea, they told UserMind to “aggressively go after market to run as fast as you can.”
Feaster said there isn’t much competition here, aside from Y Combinator-backed Zapier, Cloudsnap, and Babelway.
UserMind is currently working with six enterprise “partners” who are helping the team develop and hone the product for wider availability. This funding will go toward hiring 10 to 15 people over the course of the next year in Seattle, where UserMind is based.
UserMind is trying to solve a complicated, deep, boring enterprise problem, but it’s one that is pervasive. The statement the company sent out about the funding was difficult to parse, filled with jargon, and deliberately vague since the company is still keeping its technology under wraps.
However, some of the biggest, most successful companies out there are solving complicated, deep, boring enterprise problems, and UserMind aims to be one of them.