One of the best things about making software for consumers is the complete lack of gatekeeper risk (unless of course you consider net neutrality issues but let’s leave that aside for time being. You already know how i feel about that )
Make great software and the end user can decide if they want it or not. The decision maker and the end user is the same person.
We take this for granted but as many folks know this hasn’t been the case in companies (enterprise), or education or finance and other such markets. In these markets we have typically seen a decision maker who is different than the end user.
This creates a number of issues that impact the design, care and distribution of the product. It also gives rise to a natural gatekeeper.
Back in the day you would hear things like “I can’t use that product because our IT team won’t support it”.
A number of products have been introduced that have enabled their employees to go rogue in effect. And that is a good thing.
End users at companies are basically are making their own decisions. They bought iPhones and brought them to the office. They signed up for dropbox and brought it to the office.
I did that with gmail shortly after we started Spark. We began with MS Exchange and after a year or so I went rogue and moved myself to gmail. Shortly after the rest of the team moved as well.
Trello is a mighty fine example of this. Trello is the best way for anyone to work together on a project. Any project. It’s beautiful, fast and simple. Oh, it’s free too.
I signed up for Trello on my own. I didn’t have to take a “webinar” or ask a sales person to demo it to me. I didn’t have to ask someone to install it and I didn’t need anyone’s permission. Others at Spark made their own decision and suddenly we had Trello boards for all sorts of projects like our annual limited partner meeting, candidates we are recruiting, investments we are considering, marketing initiatives and more.
I also have boards are also linked to folks outside of Spark. And Trello works mighty fine in single player mode as I keep a few Trello boards that I keep just for me.
Trello was built by our friends at Fog Creek. The same place that created and spun out Stack Exchange.
We are proud investors in Stack and when we saw Trello we became inspired to get involved. A product aimed at end users in any environment without gatekeepers, with natural network effects and one we love using everyday.
But one of my most important criteria is whether I would want to work at this company if I wasn’t a VC.
It’s such a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with cofounders Michael Pryor and Joel Spolsky again along with Neil Rimer at Index who co-led this Series A with Spark. It’s an awesome team and I’m delighted to be part of it.
Go try out Trello for iOS, Android or your good old desktop browser. You’ll love it.
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Update: Read Joel’s post about the Trello backstory here, Michael has a post and the WSJ wrote about the new funding as well.