I’m happy to announce that Bain Capital Ventures, one of the world’s best venture capital firms, has just invested $10M in Wrike. It’s a positive milestone, and I wanted to share why we’ve done it, and what it will allow us to accomplish.
Let me rewind a few years back. Ever since Wrike was founded, we were mostly a self-funded and bootstrapped business. By Silicon Valley measures this is rather uncommon for a fast growing tech company with plenty of customers. But the reason wasn’t the lack of interest from VC’s. On the contrary, we were getting quite a few calls from them, but we had a different strategy. We deliberately wanted to stay lean and pragmatic. Amongst our team we’ve always known that we can have any perk in the universe that we want, we just have to earn it first. And the No. 1 perk that we all want is and always has been to build the best product in the space, the product that people would love and use every day.
There’s hardly anything comparable to the positive uplift you feel when you bump into someone and they say to you “Oh, you work for Wrike? We use it at work every day, and I love it.” That’s a benefit significantly more powerful than material things like cuisine from a personal chef or a designer office space. By the way, speaking of the office - in our early corporate life some team members worked remotely from home. This brings us to another interesting point - certain constraints and challenges can sometimes be turned into an advantage. To collaborate efficiently across distance, we relied on our own product. This personal experience helped tailor Wrike to the needs of similar fast-moving, creative teams all over the globe. So, we know it not just from thousands of customers, but first-hand, too: a better work collaboration solution drives productivity, which ultimately results in the growth of the whole business.
At that time, we also had to rely on our product to sell itself. In simple words, our motto was and is, “build the best product, help your customers, and money will follow”. It can sound naïve, but if you couple that with relentless execution, it pays off in the long term. And I don’t just mean a monetary pay off; it also pays off at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It has always been very important to us that our efforts help you in your day-to-day life.
With too much, or too early funding there’s a risk that the company goes astray from such a mission and starts chasing the wrong goals. For example, sometimes these companies value secondary metrics, like registered users, more than value creation; or they cover product deficiencies by overinvestment in sales.
Doing funding the Wrike way: Why now?
So, what has changed and why is 2013 the right time? When it comes to our mission and culture, nothing changed. It took a certain scale in operations before we could do a good round of funding the right way, or, better put, the Wrike way. These days, we have over 4,000 organizations using our premium version, from small startups to large enterprise teams. Your great feedback is a clear sign that our product has a leading position in the space. We have more than 50 people, including many of the most brilliant and passionate people I know. We have a lot of great ideas on how to make businesses even more productive, and this funding will help us deliver more of those innovations and deliver them faster, so it fully supports our mission. Funding is neither a beginning, nor a destination for us. It’s just part of a positive avalanche of things which come with successful growth. Funding comes as a result of that growth, and at the same time it contributes back and multiplies that growth.
It was also paramount for us to have an investor that would be fully aligned with our mission, vision and culture, and we found it in Bain Capital Ventures (BCV). I’ve asked our new board member, Todd MacLean, to comment: "We are incredibly excited to be working with Andrew and the team at Wrike. While there are lots of things going on at Wrike that we find compelling - a truly great product that helps make customers' lives better as the most important starting point - at the end of the day our business is really about first picking the right teams and then supporting them however we can. Those decisions obviously aren't easy, but we took the fact Andrew and his team have bootstrapped their way to over 4,000 customers (until recently customers that had to actively find the product on their own) as a pretty clear indicator of two things. The first is that the product actually works. The second is that it took a very talented team to not only build that product, but also to make a series of good decisions to grow the business with limited resources along the way. As an investor, signals like these are hugely helpful. The most powerful signal though is in what the market is telling you... and Wrike customers are almost cultish in their devotion to the product. While it's hard to do, when you can get those planets to align you have a chance for really good things to happen."
What makes Wrike and Bain a perfect match
One interesting detail that impressed me early on in conversations with BCV was that the Bain Capital investment team, taken as a group, is larger than any outside investor in BCV. This might seem like a casual statement, but most venture firms operate with vast majority of capital coming from outside investors, so the fact Bain Capital's professionals are the largest investors in a fund managing $65 billion dollars globally says quite a bit about their commitment. We, entrepreneurs, put our personal financial success on the front line of our jobs, and it resonates when your investor does the same.
Bain was also one of the funds where we had an immediate “click” when we discussed our product, space, and more generally the positive disruption that the cloud brings to enterprise software. We also didn’t have to “sell” the business opportunity, as they’ve seen in Wrike some of the patterns that lead to fantastic success in their other portfolio companies. We are joining a family that includes big, important companies like LinkedIn (Nasdaq: LNKD), SolarWinds (NYSE: SWI), Kiva (bought by Amazon) and Doubleclick (bought by Google), as well as rising stars like SurveyMonkey, Optimizely, Rapid7 and SevOne.
With this funding, we are also happy to announce that Todd MacLean from Bain and Tim Maly from SurveyMonkey have joined our Board. Todd is a partner at Bain Capital Ventures and spends all of his time investing in expansion stage companies in the SaaS space. Prior to investing, Todd held a business development role at Synapse Group – the predecessor company to Priceline.com, which was later sold to Time Inc. for $500 million. According to Todd, while he mostly lives on planes and is in the Bay Area often given his portfolio of companies, he technically resides in Boston, the source of his unhealthy addiction to the pain and suffering of being a Red Sox fan.
Tim has an equally diverse and impressive background. He joined SurveyMonkey in 2009 and is currently the company’s SVP, Business Operations and Finance. Previously he was at Google, where he spent six years in a variety of senior management roles in Online Sales & Operations. Prior to Google, Tim worked in the Finance industry as an investor at Silver Lake Partners and a banker at Goldman Sachs. Outside of work, Tim can usually be found climbing on the rock walls in Yosemite or skiing in the Tahoe backcountry, depending on the season.
Commenting on our partnership, Tim has shared some great feedback: “Andrew and the Wrike team have done a superb job of empowering people across the globe to work more productively and collaboratively via the Wrike platform. I’ve experienced it first-hand as we’ve deployed Wrike at SurveyMonkey to help us manage the design and construction of our new headquarters. I am very excited to partner with Andrew and the team to help accelerate growth.”
We’re also happy to welcome two outstanding individuals as our board observers. Indy Guha joined Bain in 2007 and invests in internet, mobile and software companies. Igor Shoifot has built viral consumer web-sites with audiences of tens of millions of users, before switching to an investment role, and has advised and invested in numerous great companies. Tim’s, Todd’s, Indy’s and Igor’s insight, expertise and great experience will help us to grow even faster.