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With a workforce that’s now more distributed as a result of the pandemic, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for software product teams to collaborate across locations and time zones. According to a 2020 survey, the top three hurdles for product managers are (1) competing objectives in the organization, (2) a lack of time, and (3) a lack of development role clarity. Even before the pandemic began, product management was riddled with challenges, with an average of only 55% of product launches taking place on schedule in 2019.
Becky Flint and Lee Bailey aim to address these blockers with Dragonboat, a product management startup that the two cofounded in 2018. The Santa Clara, California-based company today announced that it raised $12 million in a series A round led by Insight Partners with participation from Act One Ventures, Roble Ventures, and GingerBread Capital, which CEO Flint says will be put toward hiring and product development.
Flint was previously VP of strategic product ops at BigCommerce, where she was responsible for strategic planning, business operations, and business systems management. Bailey, who also spent time at BigCommerce, held a senior UI engineering role at Visa.
“In the early 2000s, [I] led the creation of product portfolio management for PayPal as they were scaling rapidly and facing challenges in building expanding products in fast-moving markets with distributed teams. During this process, [I] spearheaded the creation of a new job class of portfolio managers at PayPal (or as more recognized as product operations today) and built internal tools for the entire company,” Flint told VentureBeat via email.
Dragonboat enables companies to connect objectives with initiatives, build roadmaps, and integrate with engineering tools. Using the platform, users can create frameworks to guide product decision making and build roadmaps, planning product launches by assessing resourcing needs and dependencies.
Dragonboat can measure outcomes to influence the next iteration of product strategy, automating custom reports for stakeholders and reallocating resources based on results. Moreover, it can help companies evaluate the market, customers, and business to ensure that the right product is released at the right time — and for the right customer.
The idea is to prevent product development failures by arming stakeholders with data. According to the late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, there are over 30,000 new products introduced every year, 95% of which fail. The failure rate of software projects alone ranges between 50% and 80%.
Flint asserts that one reason for the failures is the error-prone product management solutions companies currently use. While spreadsheet and presentation apps like Excel and PowerPoint are the most popular choices for documenting product roadmaps, for example, spreadsheets are notoriously rife with bugs.
“Dragonboat automates and optimizes planning and delivery using learning of delivery velocity and customer feedback. This enables rapid, data-backed business decisions needed to run an effective product organization and drive the best portfolio outcomes,” Flint said. “Outcome-focused teams choose Dragonboat to dynamically connect customer insights and business objectives with initiatives, build data-driven roadmaps, allocate resources effectively, and integrate with engineering tools for execution all in one place.”
“Dragonboat has seen incredible traction in 2021, growing 300% with customers including Chime, F5 Networks, Rapyd, Miro, and Nium. Since launching in 2020, Dragonboat has been adopted by more than 1,000 teams in over 20 countries. Dragonboat users include product managers, product operations, product, and engineering leaders, as well as cross-functional teams such as sales, marketing, and customer success to both provide inputs on customer feedback and get visibility on what will be available and when,” Flint said.
To date, 20-employee Dragonboat has raised $15 million in venture capital.
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