Pabini: What was the first product you released to market?
Alfonso: Actually, our first product was on-premise software rather than SaaS (Software as a Service). We mostly offered online UX research services and conducted studies using our own product. Then, the Director of User Experience at the leading search company on the planet—who’d hired us for a few studies back in 2008—requested something we’ll never forget: He said, “Hey, we love you guys. No offense, but what we really want is your tool.” That motivated us to release an on-demand, SaaS version of our product. So here we are today.
Pabini: How have UserZoom’s product offerings evolved over time?
Alfonso: We first offered task-based surveys for quantitative research. Essentially, you’d use UserZoom to benchmark usability. We knew UX researchers would want to run other types of studies such as card sorting, surveys, and click testing, so we developed all those capabilities for the same research platform.
Soon after, we offered international testing and launched video-recording and mobile-testing capabilities. In parallel, we focused on innovation, data security, customization, flexibility in our product’s look and feel, recruiting options for conducting international research, high-quality UX research services, and hands-on customer service. All of the things our enterprise customers really care about. Today, we see ourselves as the all-in-one, multichannel, UX research platform, and we’re focused on the enterprise market.
Some Factors in UserZoom’s Success
Pabini: How has UserZoom achieved such impressive success in its market without venture funding?
Alfonso: We get asked this question more than any other. There are several factors that have been important in our capital-efficient success story, but the following three are some of the most important ones:
- Before expanding to the US and the UK, we launched UserZoom in Barcelona, Spain. We have a really talented R&D (Research and Development) team there. Given the cost of living in the Bay Area, being able to keep R&D running at full speed in Spain has proven to be very cost effective.
- We built our product for the power usability professionals who had trusted us from the very beginning. Back in 2009, the Director of User Experience at a top retailer signed a license with us. With his signature came a list of 80 features that we had to get ready for him to renew. A year later, we’d launched 79 of them, so he was happy and renewed their license.
- We focused on the enterprise market and those brands that were willing to pay higher prices for a quality product and services. The ROI (Return on Investment) for that market was more than evident.
Pabini: Recently, UserZoom received a significant amount of venture capital. How did you bring that about?
Alfonso: Because we’d been able to bootstrap the business, we’d raised very little money before 2015. Yet, we’d been able to grow consistently over the past five years. But building a profitable business is easier said than done! Our company has been financially stable and managed to keep growing organically, using our own resources.
Additionally, the UX market has taken off in the past two years. Our investors are a bunch of smart people who quickly figured out that there is a huge market opportunity in UX research. User experience is now linked to business and financial success. For us, the timing was perfect. We’d received offers of venture funding in the past, but had never felt ready to take the step and partner with an investor. Then, this year, we set higher expectations than ever as the market heated up, so we decided to engage in some conversations with VCs. In TC Growth, we found the right partner to help us through this next stage of our business.
Pabini: What do you think are the implications of the venture capital industry’s rising interest in User Experience?
Alfonso: VCs understand industry trends, market sizes, and opportunities. In the past few years, they’ve made a large number of investments the Customer Experience (CX), User Experience, and consumer insights spaces. What this means is that User Experience is finally getting the attention it deserves and, most importantly, businesses are appreciating the value that User Experience provides. In part, this is because C-level leaders now associate good design with financial results. So the implications of VC’s taking a big interest in User Experience will be better, more user-friendly products.
Pabini: What does this mean for companies creating software for UX professionals?
Alfonso: A big market opportunity!
Pabini: What’s your vision for the future of UserZoom?
Alfonso: The consumer is king. The online marketplace is more competitive than ever. It’s easier to build an app or any type of digital property than ever before. The thirst and demand for actionable consumer insights is bigger than ever. Both B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business) enterprises must soon offer truly exceptional multichannel experiences.
There are many ways to test and measure user experiences. UserZoom empowers companies to get closer to consumers by easily and cost-effectively testing and measuring the quality of the digital experiences they deliver to their customers. UserZoom offers an all-in-one platform for agile UX research and usability testing. We offer both quantitative and qualitative, both desktop and mobile crowd-sourced research solutions that we’ve aimed at data-driven enterprises.
Pabini: Thanks, Alfonso, for sharing your excitement about the future of User Experience and UserZoom. And congratulations on achieving this huge funding milestone! These are, indeed exciting times for User Experience!