MURAL, a software startup that makes visual collaboration tools for the workplace, raised $118 million in its Series B in August. This amount is particularly remarkable because its $23 million Series A round took place less than a year ago in January 2020. The Series B round was led by Insight Partners and included participation from Tiger Global, Slack’s corporate venture fund, the World Innovation Lab, Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith, and Gainsight COO Allison Pickens.
MURAL’s Visual Collaboration Platform More than a Whiteboard
MURAL creates interactive digital whiteboard environments that enhance workplace collaboration and are remote-work friendly. However, it is much more than an online whiteboard. The company facilities innovation at scale as the leading visual collaboration platform. MURAL provides its clients with a digital workspace for creative design collaboration, workshops, sales and consulting engagements, product strategy, and a variety of other essential corporate teamwork functions.
MURAL serves a wide range of corporate customers. Its first customer was IBM in 2014, and since then it has attracted many large corporate clients. Companies such as IDEO, Autodesk, Intuit, E-Trade Financial, and GitHub have employed MURAL’s software tools to support team collaboration. Today the startup serves 40% of Fortune 100 global enterprises.
Mood Board Templates Enhance Communication of Concepts
MURAL integrates design thinking into its software solutions. For instance, MURAL offers not just visual collaboration but mood board templates to communicate concepts not easily articulable by words. Participants can modify these mood boards in real-time digital conference sessions. This capability enables everyone to be in sync and avoid painstaking explanations over phone or email. Teams can also host design thinking workshops whereby a large number of participants can contribute ideas and build consensus. MURAL integrates with other highly utilized remote work platforms including Microsoft Teams, Dropbox and Google Drive.
Mariano Suarez-Battan, Pato Jutard and Agus Soler founded the company in 2011. Their vision was to make visual collaboration easy regardless of location. Co-founder and CEO Mariano Suarez-Battan originally hails from Argentina and still bases a portion of the company’s operations out of Argentina. In 2014, the startup completed the IDEO Startup in Residence Program. It has been on a continuous upward trajectory ever since.
The company is headquartered in San Francisco and Buenos Aires, but remote work runs deep in the company’s roots. There are team members—so-called “Muralists”—dispersed at many hubs across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
MURAL has not previously disclosed exact revenue figures, merely stating that it has millions in annual recurring revenue (ARR). The startup has noted that since the pandemic, its ARR has tripled. Nikhil Sachdev, a managing director at Insight Capital, has been observing MURAL’s potential for a while before the venture capital firm decided to lead the Series B round. He notes that “even before COVID, there was a lot of great evidence” of how large the visual collaboration startup could become. MURAL has added over a million monthly active users around the world in the first half of this year.
Pandemic Has Increased Use of Visual Collaboration
Although MURAL’s tools were rapidly gaining traction before the pandemic in order to facilitate effective communication across geographically dispersed teams, its growth has really taken off in recent months. Since mid-March, MURAL has seen a fifteen-fold increase in the number of daily visual collaboration users on the MURAL platform. Moreover, since January 2020 the support team has experienced a 900% increase in the number of support tickets submitted. To keep up with rapid user demand, MURAL has expanded its support services and grown the MURAL team by over 66% since February.
Even if and when the workplace returns to the pre-pandemic environment of having everyone physically in the office, the popularity of MURAL’s tools will endure. As Jan Forster, an IBM software architect that regularly uses MURAL remarks, “this is not strictly reduced to remote work. We also use MURAL siting together in a room with a whiteboard. Everyone was contributing and making their contributions understood by everyone else in the meeting.” Having an interactive whiteboard also makes meeting more efficient and better ensures all team members get a chance to participate.
MURAL intends to use its newly raised funds toward product improvements, global market expansion efforts, and community engagement initiatives. Particularly with the huge spikes in user activity, MURAL has had to invest more in upgrading internal systems to maintain high performance speeds and make sure support team services are quickly available. It also has had to invest more in security in order to detect network vulnerabilities and prevent platform failures.
The future outlook for MURAL appears promising. As Suarez-Battan sees it, “the trends are all aligned: visual methods are very popular and remote work is the standard. We now argue what happens afterwards. I don’t see the digital component ever going away.”