Apps

Our founders build n-of-1 cloud applications. We help them navigate from initial idea to true product-market fit and grow from $0 to $100m+ in ARR.

n-of-1

Apps are woven into the fabric of every company. The days of 3-4 core applications selected by IT are long gone. Instead, employees choose their own tools, collectively using thousands of apps for different workflows. That makes app companies easy to start, but hard to scale. Only a small number break out and dominate their markets, as Figma, Notion, Veeva, and Zoom have done. Sometimes, there’s a data network effect. Other times it’s viral adoption, workflow expansion, vertical dominance, or some other mechanic that enables a company to break through. We help founders understand these, and grow in ways that give their companies unfair advantages over the competition. We help them create n-of-1 cloud applications.

$0 to $100m+

It always seems obvious in hindsight, but no company’s success is a linear path. Finding initial product-market fit is an iterative process that requires skill, tenacity, and a little luck. Building on that, by evolving the product and growing with your initial customers, can be even harder. As investors, we’ve seen many companies, from LinkedIn to Docusign to Attentive, initially struggle before finding their way. Other companies, like Gainsight or Sendgrid, get off to a fast start, but then take time to discover their true market before re-accelerating. These are the hard years, when products meet market reality and iterate towards sustainable revenue growth. Many companies get stuck and ultimately die at this stage; we help founders get to the other side.

This work — helping founders realize the full potential of their businesses — is our calling. It’s what drew us initially to operating roles. Ajay partnered with a college classmate to build Trilogy into a leading CRM company. Aaref teamed up with five engineers to start Clearwell, a vertical SaaS company, and grew it to $100m in ARR. Sarah helped scale an analytics company 10x before its acquisition by Mastercard, Zeeza experienced hyper-growth at WeWork, and Kevin helped Fundera find product/market fit. And it’s what drives us as investors. When we invest, we commit to work closely with founders over many years to build enduring companies. 

Focus Areas

Productivity and Collaboration

Information workers have grown skilled at optimizing their time through AI-powered, team-oriented tools. That’s more than taking a spreadsheet and writing a macro or adding a share-button. It’s re-imagining how apps can support every team activity and workflow from the ground up. Today’s apps leverage AI/ML and the browser’s ability to support thicker applications to serve a more digitally-savvy workforce. They spread through networked online communities, which fuel word-of-mouth adoption. We partnered with Clockwise for calendar management, DocuSign for e-signatures, Felt for mapping, Magical for user-driven RPA, and are actively exploring other new approaches.

Category Creators

We often back founders building products for markets that don’t yet exist. When Bloomreach started, there was no Commerce Cloud; when Clari started, no “RevOps”; when GainSight started, no Customer Success and Product Experience category. These companies identified new pain points and buying centers to first gain a foothold, and then build new categories around themselves. They are part technologists, part thought-leaders, part evangelists, bringing a better way to solve important problems. In the past, we worked closely with LinkedIn (acquired by Microsoft) and Sendgrid (acquired by Twilio), and today partner with Airbase, Clari, Bloomreach, JustWorks, Pleo, Reprise, and others building the product categories of tomorrow.

Supply Chain and Logistics

For years, we built supply chains optimized for efficiency. Today, those are being re-engineered for resilience. The pandemic, war in Europe, trade disputes between the US and China, and raw material shortages have made supply chain management and logistics much more challenging. At the same time, advances in software and robotics offer new ways to move atoms as well as bytes, creating new opportunities. We work closely with FourKites, ShipBob, Vention, and others who are leading this transition.

Vertical Software and Embedded Fintech

Every industry or vertical has different workflows and requirements. In the past, this diversity of needs has made vertical-specific software a niche product for anything outside of big information-intensive industries like finance or healthcare. That’s changed over the past 10 years. Every small business is adopting software to streamline operations. And it’s now possible to monetize those businesses with more than subscription fees by embedding financial services, like payments or lending. We are working at this intersection of software and fintech with AutoLeap (car repair), Homebase (hourly workers), TruckSmarter (trucking), Vesta (mortgages), and several others. 

Apps Insights

Load Up the Truck: Announcing our Investment in TruckSmarter

Truck drivers form the backbone of the US supply chain. In fact, over 70% of all goods shipped in the US travel by truck. Yet there is a massive shortage of drivers — the American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of drivers to the tune of 80,000 today — that’s only set to get worse,…

Ajay Agarwal 3 min read
Spotlight Apps Seed

Snowflake Will Catalyze A New Generation Of Apps

The best products don’t just massively expand their markets, they also create new ecosystems around themselves. The iPhone is a famous example, taking the smartphone from luxury to necessity and creating an ecosystem of new mobile apps from third-party developers. The same is true for Zoom, which has made video conferencing ubiquitous and enabled fitness…

Aaref Hilaly 4 min read
Spotlight Apps

Felt, Thinking In Maps, And A New Collaborative Layer for Apps

by Aaref Hilaly, Bain Capital Ventures Once you start looking for maps, you see them everywhere. Today, it’s often maps tracking the spread of disease or wildfires. But beyond that, maps are central to many industries: real estate listings, retail locations, supply chain and logistics, energy exploration, conservation efforts, government services — anything where location-based data…

Aaref Hilaly 4 min read
Spotlight Apps

Apps Domain Experts

Apps Portfolio

Company
About
Partner
Invested
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Cogsy replaces spreadsheets by automatically forecasting your sales so you know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.

Partner Dawit Heck
Invested 2020
Apps
Seed