In venture capital, conventional wisdom and decades of startup history tell us that founding companies in crowded spaces is extremely hard. Starting any business already takes an exceptional dose of courage, but intense competitive dynamics within a category can make the odds of ultimate success even more daunting: limited long-term product differentiation, customer fatigue due to an onslaught of conflicting marketing messages, incessant user churn to the next “cool thing,” perpetual pricing pressure eroding away at margins, etc. And often the unfortunate reality is a crowded category only getting more competitive over time, not less.
When we first met Zeb Evans, the CEO of ClickUp, we figured it would be an uphill battle. If you’ve recently been in any major airport or big city, you’ve almost certainly come across billboards marketing ClickUp as the “one app to replace them all.” And it’s true! They’ve built an immense product surface area to make ClickUp the place to get work done on any collaboration form factor, empowering task management, chat / email messaging, documents, spreadsheets, goal-setting, and undoubtedly more to come. Outside of the first-adopter crowd exploring any new product that comes out, user fatigue is intensifying with every new productivity app fighting for attention. And ironically, each new promise to make collaboration smoother often just creates another data silo within an employee base, making working together even more disjointed. ClickUp is building a modern bundle of productivity and collaboration applications, all delivered in a single, unified platform, which puts them in the crosshairs of literally hundreds of competitors. Now that takes courage! What we hadn’t yet realized years ago was that ClickUp had the only thing that mattered – the winning strategy to break out from the pack.
Over the last few years, Zeb and the rest of the team at ClickUp have executed one of the most aggressive playbooks we’ve ever seen. The secret behind their success begins with a relentless commitment to shipping at a weekly cadence, launching new improvements every Friday for years without fail (other than a few holidays!). When starting at ground zero and going up against incumbents decades ahead in product development, it’s allowed them to provide their customers with all major productivity capabilities while investing in innovative solutions that surpass the competition.
When potential users are inundated with stale enterprise content marketing, the ClickUp marketing engine differentiates by getting the word out in a way that’s actually memorable (e.g. see what life was life before and after ClickUp, or the chaos created by productivity app overload). From there, the go-to-market engine took off, racing to more than 800,000 teams in just four years since. One other key element to their success is an obsession with the end user. This is evident in how swiftly they incorporate user feedback into the product and 24/7 customer support that’s managed entirely internally by the ClickUp team. And that level of support is not just for their biggest accounts, but for any customer… increasingly rare in this era of enterprise software!
After spending time with Zeb, it’s become abundantly clear to us that each of the ingredients behind ClickUp’s success is a direct expression of Zeb’s drive and determination: from his growth mindset, committed to incessantly pushing forward, to a customer satisfaction obsession that dates back to a thankless job Zeb worked at Disney World driving a monorail tram full of picky tourists. That paired with Zeb’s knack for surrounding himself with driven, creative partners underscores our excitement in this company.
In the last year, ClickUp has tripled its revenue and grew its customer base by 2.5x. Zeb and the entire ClickUp team have already accomplished an exceptional amount for their customers in such a short time. We’re thrilled to join ClickUp on their journey as they continue to build one app to replace them all.
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