Work instruments startup Notion, which not too long ago reached a reported $800 million valuation, isn’t on the verge of a giant SoftBank spherical. The truth is, COO Akshay Kothari says the startup has “never felt like if we had more money we could grow faster.”
The corporate, centered round an app that helps non-developers construct collaboration instruments, has multiple million customers and has scaled its product rapidly regardless of having a workforce of simply 27.
I wrote concerning the firm’s partnership with a few of tech’s prime accelerators and enterprise capital companies final month. Individuals are very interested by this small firm and the way it is run, so right here’s extra from my current interview with COO Akshay Kothari by which we mentioned the hyped startup’s philosophy of staying small and among the challenges it could have forward with this model of considering as rivals are elevating large sums.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
The place does your story start with Notion? Give me a snapshot of the place the workforce is now.
Akshay Kothari: [Notion co-founders Ivan Zhao and Simon Last] began Notion six years in the past and that’s once I invested. I had bought my earlier firm and I had this newfound cash that I didn’t know what to do with. I invested in Notion, in order that’s my connection.
We have been form of in analysis mode for a few years attempting to uncover what the market wants have been. We launched about two years in the past; 1.zero was simply notes that you can take and a wiki in order that you can collaborate with folks. After which final 12 months we launched databases and that was the two.zero model, which form of appeared like an inflection level, the place now you can not solely have your notes and your wiki, but additionally handle your duties, handle your initiatives, handle candidates and recruiting, all in a single device.
During the last 12 months and a half, the corporate has grown extraordinarily quick. I joined a few 12 months in the past, there have been about 10 folks initially of this 12 months and now we’re near 30. It’s nonetheless a very small engineering workforce. We’re 9 engineers, we don’t have any product managers, and we’re 2 designers. So there are about 10 folks which are constructing the product, and 10 folks on neighborhood and help groups, one thing that we’ve invested very closely in. We’re beginning to have a gross sales and advertising and marketing workforce. We have now 2 folks in advertising and marketing and a couple of folks in gross sales. That every one rounds as much as about 27 which is the place we are actually.
Because you joined do you suppose the concept has shifted in any respect?
When it comes to the unique thought, we have been interested by how individuals who didn’t know learn how to code may construct issues like instruments and software program that have been actually helpful. I suppose the one realization has been that not everybody wakes up wanting to construct software program, however everybody wakes to resolve issues. That was the pivot to specializing in notes, wikis and duties, as a result of that’s really one thing that each workforce wants.
Are these wants common for large and small groups?
For the primary 100 folks you may really do rather a lot with Notion. With 30 folks, we just about run all the firm, aside from utilizing Slack for inner communication and Intercom for exterior communication like speaking to prospects. All the pieces else is really on Notion, like our software monitoring system for recruiting inside Notion, our gross sales CRM is in Notion, our wiki clearly is, our mission administration as nicely no, we don’t use Jira.
For sub-100 companies, you really don’t want one other device. Once you get to a whole lot of individuals what tends to occurs is that some particular person or some workforce tends to have a desire for a selected device. In these conditions, Notion performs nicely with different instruments. You’ll be able to embed issues simply. So let’s say Excel or Google Sheets is one thing that you simply need to use, you may simply embed that inside Notion. So Notion turns into this sort of central nervous system for the entire work that individuals are doing.
Constructing on that, one of many issues we haven’t accomplished is we don’t do synchronous communication so we’ve stayed away from that as a result of I really feel like folks like utilizing Slack. On Slack, you may’t really collaborate on a mission… Notion has turn into a spot the place you may really do plenty of your work alongside the synchronous communication.
So, little interest in constructing a chat or video chat product?
Not within the close to time period. I feel Slack is a type of enterprise instruments that individuals at corporations really like. For lots of those different instruments, we simply have to make use of it, not as a result of we like it however as a result of that that’s what exists.
What are the limitations for satisfying the purchasers with 100+ workers?