Why We Invested in Integry: Integration Experience Matters
October 5, 2021
Today, we are excited to announce our lead investment in integry, a powerful new platform to address one of the most fundamental issues in modern SaaS. You can also read more here from the company’s press release.
But as usual with our “why we invested” pieces, let’s start with quite a bit of back-story about why we love this company and why the problem they are out to solve is so huge.
As many know, I spent more than a minute at salesforce.com. I am often asked - what was/is the key to salesforce.com’s success?
I usually pause and then state three things:
- The leader - Marc Benioff is a fantastic marketer and operational leader.
- The talent - Salesforce has hired/continues to employ a level of unsurpassed talent
- The platform - more specifically, salesforce.com’s metadata customization layer and its API.
People nod their heads to the first two answers but are a bit quizzical about my last reply. To which I explain to them the following:
- In the on-premise world (only the grey hairs remembers these days), customization and integrations were an unmitigated disaster
- They were costly to do, rarely worked well, and worse, completely broke when any of the software involved was upgraded to its next version and required a re-write / re-implementation.
Salesforce.com took the industry by storm by promising and delivering on the following truth: customers could both customize their salesforce org and integrate it to other cloud providers and those changes/integrations would NOT break whenever a customer chose to upgrade a software solution. This meant that customers could focus all of their time on tweaking the software solutions and processes to best meet their business needs - and none of it on unnecessary and expensive re-work - they could look forward, not backward.
As such, at salesforce.com, with more than subtle prompting by the big man, we invested early and heavily in building out a platform and an ecosystem and ultimately the app-exchange - where customers could easily discover and try out a myriad of software integrations, each which had been certified by the salesforce ISV team. Kudos to all the influential players at salesforce.com driving this level of god’s work (often while taking heat from the sales team who wanted more CRM features instead) - Adam Gross, Jim Rivera, David Brooks, Mike Kreaden Mike Rosenbaum, Pete Morelli, Leyla Seka, and Ron Huddelston, who left this world way too soon.
These efforts, which ultimately meant that salesforce.com easily integrated to whatever tools that were relevant to users, were transformational to salesforce.com’s growth.
- They made it much easier for us to close new deals, especially in the enterprise.
- They made it much easier for us to deploy new wins successfully.
- They made our customer retention/stickiness much higher
- They formed the basis of an enormous ecosystem built on top of and around salesforce.com - there are no partner pavilions at Dreamforce without this work.
In the end, salesforce.com became an entire platform - and platforms usually win in the end - to the tune of >$250B in market cap.
The salesforce story and the importance of integrations and ecosystems have become a key recipe in every saas company’s GTM playbook. In 2021, startups don’t wait until they are bigger to tackle integrations - increasingly, they understand that they have to integrate out of the gate to a few core apps, or no one will bother trying them out - it’s increasingly a basic requirement for early-stage success. This GTM playbook essentially states:
- Every software company needs to easily integrate to the most common adjacent apps their users use (or what is called “connectors’)
- Every software company needs to easily publish and promote these integrations for users to discover easily (or what is called “app stores” or “directories”)
- Every software company needs to make it easy for its end users to customize these integrations as they see fit (or, if you will their own “Zapier”)
That has been true for the last decade or so - but here is what has changed, and changed rapidly in the last few years:
- The dramatic rise of SaaS applications the average user uses. When we were building the app exchange so long ago, we imagined a world where a user would at most use salesforce.com with 2 to 3 other products. The average user in companies today uses between 10-20 cloud-based offerings in their daily routines.
- The dramatic rise and importance of product-led user experiences. This is no longer just the focus of SMB oriented solutions. With the rise of AWS and all the other back-end as a service platforms, product teams are religiously focused on ensuring their product experience is top-notch and simplifies dramatically the try, buy, use, and adopt continuum for their end-users.
In this world, what this now means is that the actual end-user experience for integrations becomes hugely important. As such, in a product-led world, integrations can not be an afterthought - they have to be a 1st class citizen within your overall product user experience - ie you have to all of the integrations (breadth) your users want and those integrations have to be both deep (powerful) and appealing (beautiful). In such a world, your product and your product experience are inevitably only as good as your integrations and integration experience.
As an investor and advisor to many tech companies over the last decade, this is a conversation I have had all the time with software companies, regardless of their size and traction. They completely agree with the point that integration experience matters but….
- They are too small and can’t get any of the big players in their space to integrate into them.
- Their internal integration readiness is somewhat crap where they either haven’t exposed all their end-points, support webhooks, etc.
- They have limited resources internally in R&D and if they commit any resources, it will be just on a few integrations - but it sucks to have our devs focused on building and maintaining these especially when there is so much feature debt in our core application.
- They claim that their integration to Zapier solves for this, but we chuckle as we know they just put all of the integration work into their end-users hands.
- They claim that their IPAAS solution solves for this, but we chuckle as we know they just sacrificed their integration UX to others and it doesn’t solve for end-user customization. Or they duck the IPAAS solution because it’s like 50K upfront to start with and takes weeks/months to get going.
That is why we were thrilled when we came across Nash and the team at Integry - we hoped that what his vision and reality were was not too good to be true - with Integry:
- Product teams could easily connect their product to 100’s of other products
- Product teams could easily, in a no-code fashion (or code if they desired), build powerful integration workflows
- Product teams could easily publish these workflows for their users in a directory
- Product teams, if they were so bold, could embed the workflows directly within their own user experience
- End users could easily access and configure those integration workflows and, if they so desired, create their own.
- Both product teams and end-users could easily test, monitor, and debug all of their integrations
Wow. A platform to quickly build elegant integrations without compromise? A platform where product teams could build integrations as beautiful as their own products and still allow end-users to customize/create their own workflows. Count us in!
Integry launches today for general availability after many months of hard work - because if we all believe that to be truly product-led, you have to be integration-led - then, of course, the integry platform itself has to be product-led.
Interested parties can go to www.integry.io right now and get started - without talking to any salespeople or spending any money upfront. Build your connector quickly and deploy the most relevant integration workflows to your users (in a directory and/or within your product) within days! The platform is free for your first 10,000 runs (again, an innovation - they don’t charge per individual API transactions as there may be more than a few within a given workflow) and less than a cent per run after that, all billed in arrears. Integry’s monetization is tied to the value you accrue from integrations and not from selling an unnecessary upfront annual SAAS commitment to please investors :)
The integry manifesto and purpose are big ones - this is no small widget solving a tiny problem. Namely that:
- All users of software tools expect a 1st class integration experience (IX)
- Product teams should be able to give their users the IX they want easily
- Product teams should only pay for the value accrued over time to flex this muscle
We are super excited to have Mallun Yen of Operator Collective and Dan Scheinman join us in this round - prolific investors and incredible supporters of their founders’ success. I have been fortunate to see their impact on another joint portfolio company, Spekit and the dream team is at it again with Integry. They, like us, see a huge opportunity when we see it - and that’s why we are so thrilled to support Nash and team Integry on their journey.