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If you work in sales, there’s a good chance Salesforce will be a critical tool — the customer relationship management (CRM) platform claims nearly a fifth of the market in terms of revenue, more than triple its nearest rival.

But pervasiveness doesn’t necessarily mean popularity, with common Salesforce complaints ranging from “clunky UI” and “too much data entry” to “it’s just not user friendly.” But one startup is setting out to make Salesforce a more enjoyable and productive experience by building a modern workspace directly on top of the CRM.

Founded out of San Francisco in 2019, Scratchpad has created a suite of productivity tools spanning notes, spreadsheets, tasks, Kanban boards, search, collaboration, and more. The company bundles them under a friendlier interface through which they can interact directly with all their sales data and workflows. Scratchpad is designed to free up sales personnel to do what they do best and today announced it has raised $13 million in a series A round of funding led by Craft Ventures, with participation from Accel. Craft Ventures’ David Sacks will now join Scratchpad’s board.

“Most revenue teams have highly trained and highly educated salespeople spending more than half of their time doing administrative work instead of selling,” Scratchpad CEO and cofounder Pouyan Salehi told VentureBeat. “Scratchpad reduces and nearly eliminates tedious admin time, increasing sales performance across the organization.”

Scratch that

The Scratchpad platform was developed from “thousands of conversations with sales professionals and designed specifically for their needs,” Salehi said. This includes Scratchpad Notes, which sales reps can use during or after calls to record insights or collaborate with others — and which connects directly into Salesforce. The platform also offers different views for managing pipelines, such as a grid view, which is basically inline editing for Salesforce records, circumventing the need for spreadsheets.

Above: Scratchpad: Grid view

Users can also create Kanban boards to provide a more detailed overview of deals at every stage.

Above: Scratchpad: Kanban board

Scratchpad also offers a search interface that enables users to search for accounts, contacts, leads, notes, and more — this includes content stored in Gmail, Google Calendar, Slack (which Salesforce is on the cusp of buying for $27.7 billion), or the web.

“If you are searching for a prospect on LinkedIn using Google Chrome, you can simply use Scratchpad search to see if the prospect is already in your Salesforce instance and if that person’s details need to be updated,” Salehi explained. “Or if you’re looking at your calendar for an upcoming meeting with a customer, you can access all of your relevant Salesforce information related to the customer directly from the calendar event without having to switch tabs to Salesforce.”

Elsewhere, Scratchpad is designed with collaboration in mind, enabling users to share sales notes with other members of their team — so if a sales executive finalizes a deal, all notes can be easily passed to the customer service team.

Scratchpad operates a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model, with tiers ranging from free to the $39 per-user team plan and up to the business plan, which comes with customized pricing. In terms of deployment, users can either add an extension to Chrome or go through a dedicated web app in any other web browser. The user then logs into Scratchpad using their Salesforce credentials.

Ecosystem

Salesforce is already a fairly extensible platform, with AppExchange offering a ton of integrations with third-party enterprise applications. In fact, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff coined and trademarked the term “App Store” and registered the domain before gifting it all to Steve Jobs ahead of Apple’s venture into the world of smartphones. Salesforce’s success over the past couple of decades is in large part due to its partnership ecosystem, with countless third parties building highly successful businesses off its back.

So isn’t what Scratchpad is now offering already possible through other integrations? Not so, says Salehi, who explains the issue isn’t so much extensibility as it is usability.

“Usability is what matters most for revenue teams,” he said. “It is why you see implementations of Salesforce with all sorts of customizations and extensions, and yet adoption of those customizations remains very poor. In fact, we see a negative correlation between extensibility and end-user adoption. Many of these extensions are primarily at the database layer of Salesforce. Very few extend to the user interface, so they are not optimized for end users.”

While workflows vary greatly between Salesforce customers, many users will keep notes or to-do lists in separate documents, such as Word, Excel, or a Google Doc, and then copy/paste the relevant text into Salesforce. Alternatively, they may just “stick with the status quo,” as Salehi puts it, and update records directly in Salesforce.

“The unfortunate reality is Salesforce is a phenomenal database but is not user friendly for salespeople to actually use,” he said. Scratchpad is ultimately looking to reduce the hours wasted on admin.

In its short life, Scratchpad has managed to amass a pretty impressive roster of customers, including Adobe, Autodesk, Box, Snowflake, Splunk, and Twilio. And while it was built purely for Salesforce, the company is open to expanding its horizons in the future.

“We do have plans to bring Scratchpad to other CRMs, but today the pain is so deep and pervasive for sales teams using Salesforce, we started there,” Salehi said.

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