MURAL recently closed a $118 million Series B funding round, bringing on new investors. And our lead investor, Insight Partners, conducted its first-ever LinkedIn Live webcast for its new series, Behind the Investment, to chat with MURAL cofounder and CEO, Mariano Suarez-Battan.
Insight Partners invests in software scale-ups around the world –– businesses with product/market fit that are more than just an idea and have graduated from being a startup. These are the companies that are poised to work with the Global 2000 and to bring their software to the world.
Below, we collected a few highlights from the conversation with Insight Partners’ VP of marketing strategy and communications, Nikki Parker, and managing director Nikhil Sachdev.
NIKKI PARKER: What is MURAL?
MARIANO SUAREZ-BATTAN: It’s a digital workplace for visual collaboration that allows you to make diagrams to understand problems as a team and gather together to strategize, to innovate, to reflect. Things that typically happen in a project room or workshop with a lot of sticky notes, whiteboard, and pictures –– we bring all of that to an online space. And we provide facilitation superpowers that allows people to run better meetings. We started nine years ago, but in the last six months, things have been going through the roof.
NIKKI PARKER: So, Nikhil, tell me how you found MURAL and the process of getting to know the company.
NIKHIL SACHDEV: We try to find large categories that can produce large companies, but we’re also very much bottoms-up. We’re calling on companies, getting to know them early, getting to know their investors.
I think few spaces have garnered as much interest over the last five years as the business collaboration market. A lot of our experiences have reinforced our excitement for the future of this broader theme. Visual software collaboration, we think, is a new distinct category that's truly horizontal. We could envision companies of all sizes across all industries, across all geographies and across all presenters in the enterprise using the product that Mariano has built. So from a top-down perspective, this was really exciting to us.
NIKKI PARKER: Nikhil you mentioned how important this is for all different personas within the business. Mariano can you give us a little bit more information about how the tool works, the types of teams, the types of clients that you guys actually have?
MARIANO SUAREZ-BATTAN: Of course the first people that have been embracing this are people in design, right? So there's a lot of customer journey mapping and experience mapping jobs to be done. But we also see stories like a big U.S. insurance company where the designers brought it in for a workshop to understand their customers. Ant then the program managers realized, “Hey, this would be great for us to put together our PI planning,” resource planning. And then of course the resource plan needs to be shared with engineers and the engineers said, “Oh, that's a great set up for us!"
People hack use cases. And then we make sure that we build the functionality to support those use cases. We’re developing a lot of integrations right now to make sure that the meetings turn into workflows. So, it's not just the white board part of the meeting, but also — whatever you sketch, prioritize, assign, and decide in the meeting goes to the system of record that you're using for management.
NIKHIL SACHDEV: One of things that is part of our diligence process is spending a lot of time talking to MURAL’s customers. And what jumped out to us is not just the horizontal nature of this product that it could be used in by so many personas and different types of areas. But really Mariano's execution on that opportunity. So the feedback specifically on the product, on the ease of use, on the fidelity, just the ability to embrace it with a very organic user interface that enables collaboration — I think this is what lets MURAL capitalize on that product opportunity, and grow and spread within the enterprise.
NIKKI PARKER: Tell me, Mariano, what does the scale of the journey look like?
MARIANO SUAREZ-BATTAN: It’s funny how people congratulate me on the funding round, but really what’s worth celebrating is the real work that people are doing day in, day out. We’ve been helping a lot of folks that were really troubled. Before the pandemic, they didn’t believe that this type of workshop could be done remotely. And now they tell us, “Thank you for existing — I would’ve run out of business or had no job.”
We are so into this — learning and putting together the templates and best practices on the workshops — that I don't see the digital part or the virtual part of this ever going away.
There's a lot of responsibility to make sure that this type of work is here to stay. And there's a lot of learning, a lot of education around the methodologies for facilitation and remote collaboration.
And for this, we have an ebook, The Definitive Guide To Facilitating Remote Workshops. We have a team inside the company that helps prepare people for workshops, or even run workshops. So there's a lot of services on top of the software.
NIKKI PARKER: Thinking about the world that we're in, we're all going to have to think digital first. So, what are some of the conversations that you're having with your customers?
MARIANO SUAREZ-BATTAN: Working from home is not the same as working from home in the context of a pandemic, right? The reality was that you would get together every once per year, maybe once per quarter, or had the possibility at least. But now we don’t. And what we're seeing right now is that people are starting to rethink solutions that someone designed years ago for a problem –– and the problem being work, right? I mean, how do we work better? The office was originally assigned to command and control a bunch of people's stamping so that the stamps were done properly.
In a modern world, where it's more outcomes driven, the work styles need to change. Not only for the office but also for sending objectives that are outcome-driven, not just output driven.