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 valued 23% of their income on R&D, for example – and there is no guarantee that this will lead to a positive result. Forty-two percent of companies in a recent CB Insights survey cited “no 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 Labyrinth, a software product research platform that facilitates prototype testing and investigation. Unlike some platforms on the market, Widawski and Mary emphasize that Maze was designed with entire product teams in mind – not just traditional user researchers with specialized 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 engage. Validating ideas and getting actionable, quantifiable user insights isn’t easy, though. to make decisions with confidence, especially before you have a product or a live website,” Widawski told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Maze started with the belief that product design teams needed to 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.
Picture credits: Labyrinth
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 strategic data consultant studyinvestments in user experience made in the conceptual 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 and remote research increased because teams were no longer able to easily conduct moderated and face-to-face research. This change in circumstances meant that product teams had needed new solutions that catered to this new way of working. As a result, Maze grew 6x during the pandemic,” Widawski said. “Maze enables product teams to gather user insights quickly and before development, reducing thus 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 to democratize that product research. across the 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 expanding into new use cases throughout the product development process and ultimately help streamline product research workflows.”