Announcing the Rocketlane and 8VC partnership

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Jan 20, 2022

The 8VC team is thrilled to announce our partnership with Rocketlane to build a category-creating SaaS company in the emerging area of Customer Onboarding — and our first significant investment in India’s SaaS ecosystem.

The scenario today, mostly horizontal and a patchwork of tools…

One of the most significant trends we have observed in enterprise software over the past decade can be summarized in two words: unbundling and specialization. We have seen SaaS businesses evolve from large, horizontal platforms, addressing a variety of pain points, to targeted solutions aimed at smaller, yet more acute and timely problems. One clear example is the longstanding, traditional area of project management for software developers and product managers, which used to be served by generic (and inadequate) tools like Excel, and is now characterized by bespoke tools like Asana, MS Project and Monday.com.

Contrary to the trend among SaaS businesses as a whole, the industry leaders in project management have become increasingly horizontal over recent years. Whether you are an engineer or a product manager or CX specialist, you probably manage your planning workflows in the same tool, so in many cases there has been no need for further unbundling. However, use cases persist for which these tools are ill-suited, most notably situations such as customer onboarding and implementation projects involving external stakeholders.

Though customer onboarding has traditionally been a bespoke process across SaaS businesses, the past decade has seen the development of a number of idiosyncratic best practices for software delivery. These best practices have required companies to stitch together existing project management software like Asana with more collaborative tools like Notion and Google Docs, to keep track of progress internally while giving customers visibility into project status. Yet this current patchwork approach leads to various problems and missed opportunities for serving important domain-specific needs.

For example, (a) workstreams and information get siloed and lack global views; (b) internal and customer teams waste time searching for information (e.g. links and emails) to stay on top of projects; and © important areas like collaboration are missed since these legacy tools were not purpose-built for customer/developer collaboration and visibility. To compensate, you end up creating internal versions of plans and documents (AKA siloing), and are forced to find new internal channels to communicate about the work. In summary, this results in a complete lack of extensibility, collaboration, shared state, global visibility and efficiency.

Leads to the next specialized generation of Customer Onboarding as SaaS…

As the CX domain has grown in scope, complexity and importance, it’s created a need for a more opinionated product that upholds the best practices of customer onboarding as part of a generalized software offering. We believe Rocketlane is the product to both fulfill this need, and create a massive emerging enterprise category.

The main difference between project management for customer onboarding, as opposed to traditional software project management, is that it’s two-sided. This means that any onboarding tool must be able to track progress internally while bringing the customer along in a transparent and collaborative (but not excessively so) fashion. Rocketlane solves this problem by allowing companies to set up a unified customer portal where internal and external users can iterate on anything from project scope to specific documentation, with granular permissions and controls around what is visible and what remains hidden. By enabling this determinate view, Rocketlane improves ROI on each project, due to faster deployment times, better customer experience and improved NPS.

By serving as the source of truth for all of your deployments, Rocketlane also provides cross-project visibility, granting companies more granular insight and allowing them to extract their own best practices. Not only does this allow companies to be far more iterative in their onboarding workflows, but it also enables the creation of standardized templates, which is a game changer for repeat processes. Instead of having to set up new documents and flows for each customer you wish to onboard, Rocketlane allows you to pre-populate a complete onboarding journey, and only configure those sections that are unique to a given customer. This means Rocketlane users can simultaneously optimize for velocity and maintain standardization.

…That only the Rocketlane founding team can drive to reality.

Creating a product like this requires both a mature understanding of the whole problem and a proven ability to execute. The Rocketlane team embodies these characteristics and many more. Hailing from Chennai’s red-hot B2B SaaS community, and having honed their talents at Freshworks for the four years prior to Rocketlane’s founding, Sri, Deepak, and Vignesh are perfect for this challenge. They have significant experience building and scaling engineering organizations, as well as an extensive network in a geography with a rich talent pool for new hires, strategic advice, and early commercial partnerships. We are also bullish on the continued success of the “build in India to sell in the US” model, which unlocks a fundamentally different cost structure as the business scales. This has resulted in Rocketlane’s incredibly efficient GTM trajectory, and we’ve been thoroughly impressed by their speed of execution, which has eclipsed every competitor to date.

We are excited to partner with Rocketlane as they address this massive need in modern enterprises, and look forward to supporting them in their journey from promising company to generational success. Additionally, we want to thank Sameer Verma from Nexus Ventures, Vikram Vaidyanathan from Matrix Partners and Shreesha Ramdas for introducing 8VC to Rocketlane, and we look forward to collaborating closely with them to support Rocketlane’s journey. This is 8VC’s first significant direct investment in the burgeoning SaaS ecosystem of Chennai and Bangalore, and we are grateful and proud to be working with such world-class investors, advisors and founders as we begin our firm’s journey in India.