Putting customers first: Parlay founder story
Most product development teams think they know what their customers want. Keith Frankel thinks that they're wrong. That's why he and two ...
Every month, software companies spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars updating and building product features. In general, the smaller the company, the more it spends on product development, with the fastest growing teams currently spending on average around 44% of their entire budget each year on product updates.
Despite this significant investment, most teams have no idea what the impact of their expensive product updates will be until after they've already built them. Why?
When was the last time a designer or developer from a product you use contacted you and asked for your say in the direction of new or existing features? For most, the answer is never. That's because rather than talking to customers directly, nearly everything software teams know about their users wants and needs are either gained indirectly (through passive observation rather than active communication) or from another team at the company (such as through the sales process or incoming customer support tickets). Because of this, the information software teams use as a basis for ongoing software development is often inaccurate, unclear, biased, or simply not actionable.
The result: a whole lot of expensive and time-consuming duds.
The Solution: Parlay.
Parlay dramatically transforms how companies engage their customers in order to build better products. Through Parlay, teams can engage their customers in a far more proactive and personal manner, giving both sides the tools they need to share new ideas, review potential product updates, validate the impact of future efforts, and dramatically de-risk the cost of new feature development – all before they write a single line of code. In short, Parlay allows software teams to treat the people using their products not just as a bunch of paying customers, but rather as an army of potential collaborators.
How it Works:
Parlay lets teams accurately determine the impact of potential new features long before they spend the precious time and money building them – all thanks to their users.
Parlay fundamentally transforms how teams effectively identify, engage, and collaborate with users. The result: better products and better relationships – at a fraction of the cost.
Parlay launched its open beta on April 26, 2018. We will provide updates here as we onboard companies and transition out of beta in the coming weeks. Separately, Parlay has been covered by multiple media outlets, received positive reactions from some of the industry's most notable people and companies, and – out of more than 1000 startups – is in the top 10 in Collision Conference's pitch competition – America's fastest growing tech conference. The final pitch event takes place in New Orleans on May 2, 2018.
Parlay's market is substantial and only getting bigger, with potential customers including all global digital product companies and professionals. Today, software revenues are in the range of $600B annually, and expected to grow by more than 60% over the next 10 years. Every single one of these businesses is a potential customer. Even if Parlay captures only 1% of the market, it's still a multi-billion dollar opportunity.
In the near term, though, Parlay is focused on 3 target markets:
At launch, we expect the average monthly subscription to Parlay to be $50 for the SMB market, our largest initial potential customer base. This mirrors base pricing for similarly sized and positioned companies in our space, and the familiarity will help us avoid sticker shock while still monetizing in a manner which will allow for future upsell. We will offer two payment options: on a monthly recurring basis, or an annual subscription paid up front in exchange for a 10% discount on the monthly price.
We support multiple pricing tiers depending on the size and maturity of the customer. Initially, we will support 3 tiers: 'Early Stage', 'Team', and 'Enterprise'. Tiers will differ by included functionality, in particular by the number of simultaneously allowed active previews and the number of connected products or apps. We will segment 'Team' and 'Enterprise' pricing according to a threshold of Monthly Active Users, meaning the number of customers Parlay's customer has. Over time, we will continue to differentiate these pricing tiers by including new functionality in only the higher priced tiers.
While we believe Parlay is a powerful tool for digital product teams today, we believe its value will grow exponentially over the next few years.
The smallest investment amount that Parlay is accepting.
$25,000 – $800,000
Parlay needs to raise
before the deadline. The maximum amount Parlay is willing
to raise is $800K.
Parlay needs to reach their minimum funding goal before the deadline.
If they don’t, all investments will be refunded.
The Crowd Safe is an agreement for future equity in the startup,
meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
The Crowd Safe is an agreement for future equity in the startup, meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
A huge thank you from us, roughly 3 years of heartfelt gratitude, plus a spot in Parlay's inaugural Rock, Paper, Scissors global tournament (seriously... games are best of 7).
1 year of access to Parlay's 'Team' membership level, plus the above.
An 'Investor' profile badge inside of Parlay, unique investor-level Parlay merchandise, plus all of the above.
A unique spot on Parlay's website as a 'Founding Partner', hands-on Parlay implementation, 1-hour product audit from the Parlay team, plus all of the above.
Lifetime Parlay 'Team'-level membership, 2 hour in-person workshop with our CEO Keith (travel not included), plus all of the above.
Invitation to participate in Parlay's next board member weekend retreat in St. Louis (travel not included), plus all of the above.
A custom interactive demo for your site or product (similar to Parlay's at try.parlay.ai), plus all of the above.
Parlay takes a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, charging customers a monthly or annual subscription fee in exchange for access to the platform. We have multiple pricing tiers depending on the size and needs of the customer, but all of our current prices will increase over time as we transition out of beta and continue to increase the robustness of Parlay's functionality.
We will eventually. In fact, we have already received offers from more than one party. However, at this time the most important thing we can be doing as a company is working to get as many eyes on Parlay as possible. So while we could raise strictly from familiar angels, we believe there is exponentially more value to be had by pursuing an equity crowdfunding campaign. In short, if we raise from angels we already know, we've expanded our reach by 0. However, if we raise from a broader network of individuals, then we've instantly expanded our community to include dozens or even hundreds of potential customers, partners, employees, and evangelists. A win, win.
Our team. Not only have Parlay's founders worked closely together for years – culminating in an acquisition of our previous company – but we cover all of the core functional skills needed (product, engineering, & marketing/sales), have tested and refined the ideas behind Parlay over a period of 2 years, and have close relationships with individuals and communities in the industry which will be critically important in helping legitimize us quickly in the market.
Yes. We have big plans for Parlay, with many features in the works which we believe will fundamentally improve the way product teams interact with their users and ultimately build better products. We will increase our prices (and/or introduce new pricing tiers) as we expand Parlay in ways which will unlock substantial new value for our partners.
Yes. We have a very important integration with InVision, arguably the leader in our industry with roughly 3 million users. We also integrate with the majority of the most popular design-focused platforms on the market, including Dribbble, Marvel, Balsamiq, and Figma. We are in active talks to integrate with other platforms – including customer support and analytics products – and will announce those here as they are completed.
Parlay successfully raised $144,222 from 260 investors on August 1, 2018
1. Strong funding team with experiences in startups that either went public or got acquired. 2. Product has the potential to support other use cases. 3. Creates a new sub-category and currently no competitors provide similar products.Yating XiaInvested about 2 months ago
Believe in the team (can deliver features on time, open to customer feedback, successful exits). If Parlay can figure out how they can part of every Cloud application and IT project, the market is huge. User Feedback needed in all projects.KISHORE GADHIRAJUInvested about 2 months ago
The team looked experienced and the idea was pretty good. Figured it was a good start to my Angel investing career.christopher koonceInvested about 2 months ago
I invested because this is a great idea, and because Keith is a person I believe in!Kristen CraftInvested about 2 months ago
I believe in the company and the problem they are trying to solveTanmay KulshresthaInvested about 2 months ago
The team is incredible, the use-case is interesting, the first paying customer in recent days is compelling.Chad RalstonInvested about 2 months ago
This sounds like a much needed and potentially valuable tool for tech companiesKathryn HammondInvested about 2 months ago
I invested in Parlay because I see the value for devs, scalability for enterprise, and a kickass team.Julia Báez ValentínInvested about 2 months ago
My very first investment ever made. So obviously Parlay has something that caught my eye and opened a lot of doors. I believe in Parlay for what they are creating. 🙌🌎Jessica MukhramInvested about 2 months ago
Being new to the app development world, the idea comes to me as a great way of improving apps based on what the customers want and not just what the founders ideas are... Truly believe it will be a very successful business in the near future.Marco MatoukInvested about 2 months ago
I have full conviction in such an experienced team and founders having massive success in 2 previous startups to boot!! Need I say more? These guys walk the walkAnthony SeddonInvested about 2 months ago
I invested because I believe Parlay concept is promising.Antoni HadiInvested about 2 months ago
I invested because I believe in Parlay and its leadership!Christopher DaleyInvested about 2 months ago
Clear, relevant missionBrian McMahonInvested 2 months ago
The Product / Concept, The TeamRajagopalan MadhavanInvested 2 months ago
This is the type of idea that comes around every once in a blue moon. It will, without a doubt, change the landscape of product development.Fernando FiorentinoInvested 2 months ago
I have been in product management for a long time, I recognize the benefits of a tool that enables collaboration with users. I like the potential here.Marcus VarnaiInvested 2 months ago
When I read their campaign pitch, I immediately understood what they're trying to accomplish. If companies can save on their technology costs, Parlay is it!Javona HinesInvested 2 months ago
I like the ideas behind the company. $100Zachariah SinkalaInvested 2 months ago
Previous experience. I am a strong believer in repeat entrepreneurship.Richard WightInvested 2 months ago
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