When Panobi co-founder Merci Grace began running growth at Slack in 2015, she helped grow the user base from 50,000 to more than 3 million in just a couple of years. Along the way, she learned some valuable lessons about tracking growth metrics, and how difficult it is to pull this data from a variety of sources.
In 2021 she decided to put that knowledge to work, founding Panobi, a growth-tracking platform she wished she had when she was at Slack. Today, the company announced a $5 million seed, and that it was launching a closed beta of the product.
When Grace started the company with her co-founder, head of engineering Jason Klym, they were surprised to learn that many growth pros were still tracking their key metrics in a spreadsheet or in a project management tool like Notion, but there still wasn’t a tool specifically designed for growth managers. They decided to fix that and launched Panobi.
“We started to look at different ideas and came back to this problem, which I’ve experienced at 90 miles per hour at Slack, and was kind of amazed that it was still so hard just to get everything about growth into one place. So we [decided to build a product] that lets you see it and share it and help the rest of the company, both understand how growth is going for the growth team, but also really collaborate with them across all of the shared product surfaces,” Grace told TechCrunch.
The product first and foremost tracks key user metrics like daily active users (DAUs) and monthly active users (MAUs) by connecting to a data warehouse like Snowflake and giving the current status in real time, while providing the ability to track that information on a timeline to see how you are performing over time.
And because growth involves a lot of different departments and people, it includes a collaborative piece, both in the product itself, but also the ability (not surprisingly) to share that information in Slack and eventually Microsoft Teams, as well.
“Really what’s so unique about growth is it is this cross-functional hub, where [different departments] like sales need to know what’s happening with growth, and they need to understand the data, and that’s a huge gap for people right now, having it packaged for them in a way that is understandable and speaks to their timeline and their expertise,” she said.
The company is still pre-revenue, but when it does GA, the plan is to charge for paid editor seats for product people interacting with the product on a regular basis, while offering free viewer seats for those folks who just need to see the data, but aren’t key players on the product team. Grace says that should help prevent a ballooning monthly bill.
Panobi currently has 11 employees. When Grace left Slack, she had built growth to a 50-person team, which was the most diverse group in the company, and it’s something that she’s bringing with her as she hires at her new company.
“I think part of that is just treating people with this baseline high level of respect, and then it’s doing the work of finding and recruiting people, who are not sort of like de facto in the hiring pool for a really early-stage company. You just have to spend the time to do it because it is that important,” she said.
Today’s investment was led by Nina Achadjian and Paris Heymann at Index Ventures, along with a who’s who of angel investors that includes Slack co-founders Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson.