Product research generally involves determining whether an idea for a new product could be successful and how best to develop and sell that product. It’s a simple process, in theory, but the basic definition belies the obstacles that can arise. Research is often expensive – software-as-a-service companies spend around 23% of their revenue on R&D, for example – and there’s no guarantee that it will lead to a positive result. Forty-two percent of companies surveyed in a recent CB Insights survey cited “lack of market need” as the reason one of their products failed to gain traction.
The risky nature of product research led Jonathan Widawski and Thomas Mary, software developers by trade, to launch Maze, a software product research platform that facilitates prototype testing and investigation. Unlike some platforms on the market, Widawski and Mary point out that Maze was built with entire product teams in mind — not just traditional user researchers with specialist backgrounds.
Maze is Widawski’s second venture after Pin.gg, a privacy-focused video game messaging service. Prior to founding Pin.gg and Maze, Widawski was a user experience consultant and project manager at Archibald & Abraham, a communications and audiovisual production agency.
“Creating user-centric experiences is always a risk. And the riskier the decision, the more data we need to fully commit. However, validating ideas and getting actionable, quantifiable user insights to make confident decisions is not easy, especially before you have a product or website live,” Widawski told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Maze started with the belief that product design teams should have easy access to data during the design phase. Since then, we’ve evolved our vision to empower all product team members to test, learn, and act quickly.
Like other product research platforms, Maze allows product teams to observe how users interact with a product and generate reports. With Maze, team members can leverage tools like Adobe XD and Sketch to design product tests and surveys, then generate a shareable link to the tests to enroll participants.
Maze recently launched Reach, a tool that allows customers to build a database of research participants, send research studies through email campaigns, and collect the resulting data. Another newer feature, Clips, captures videos and screen recordings of people testing a product.
Many user research tools exist, such as UserLeap, Airkit, and even SurveyMonkey. One – UserZoom – raised $100 million last year, making it clear that the space remains highly competitive. That’s because there’s probably some truth to vendor claims that product research, no matter how difficult, can prevent costly mistakes down the line. According to a study by Strategic Data Consulting, investments in user experience made in the design phase of a product can reduce development cycles by 33% to 50%.
So what makes Maze different apart from its ease of use? Growth, said Widawski. While declining to reveal revenue figures, he revealed that more than 60,000 brands now use Maze, including Hertz, Sony, Fidelity Investments, BNY Mellon and Nubank.
“During the pandemic, the need for unmoderated, remote searches increased because teams were no longer able to easily conduct moderated, face-to-face searches. This change in circumstances meant that product teams needed new solutions that catered to this new way of working. As a result, Maze has increased 6x during the pandemic,” Widawski said. “Maze enables product teams to gather user insights quickly and before development, reducing the risk of releasing products and features that are not informed by data…Maze is uniquely positioned to enable companies to conduct more product research, as well as democratizing that product research across the entire product team.”
Paving the way for growth, Maze today closed a $40 million Series B funding round led by Felicis with participation from Emergence, Amplify, Partech, Seedcamp, Atlassian Ventures, Zoom and HubSpot Ventures. (Widawski said Atlassian and Zoom are strategic investors.) The new money brings the company’s total to $60 million, and Widawski says it will be used to develop new solutions to “help solve new use cases” throughout product development. treat.
“We plan to invest in new product solutions, workflow integrations and more advanced features to help democratize product research in large organizations,” Widawski said. “We will continue to grow our teams to focus on improving our core product as well as new use cases throughout the product development process and ultimately help streamline workflows. product research.