Investing in Ourspace

Posted: 7 Nov 2022

Build teams collaboratively

Prior to going into VC, I co-founded a company that I ran as CEO for 7 years before getting acquired in 2008. Like the majority of startups, over the years, we underwent many changes. The product went from content to software to a mix of both; the team went from 3 to 150 people, business grew from zero to €25M in ARR, and the business model expanded from B2B only to also include B2C. The path was not linear — we upsized, downsized, and upsized again — and through all these evolutions, the company constantly needed to change its structure. The leadership team and I spent hours and hours shaping the best organizational design for our teams. At the time, the tools available were Excel, PowerPoint and SharePoint stitched together by midnight meetings, pizza, and coffee — all in order to collaboratively figure out who should do what, which team was in charge, and so on. It was fun but draining on both time and resources.

Imagine my surprise when 15 years later, I discovered that nothing had changed. Founders and leadership teams for their re-org are now using Miro instead of PowerPoint and Google Sheets instead of Excel, but no purpose-built software exists to solve what might be the most important problem of a knowledge business: team org design.

Until Ourspace.

Founded by three tech veterans from companies such as Hotjar, Spendesk, and Glovo, Ourspace offers a collaborative and scalable software for senior team leaders to make smarter, faster decisions about their people and functions. In full support of this mission, we’re thrilled to have led Ourspace’s $2.5M pre-seed funding round.

How we crossed paths

I was on one of my desperate jogs in the middle of lockdown, listening to a podcast about product and design from Product School.
Megan Murphy, then VP Product at Hotjar, was the guest, and her insight, elegance of thinking, clarity, and determination really stood out to me.

I reached out. We love getting to know the best product people in Europe — sooner or later, they’re bound to launch a company, and it’s my life’s work to help them achieve that (if you are one of them, please reach out here)

We had a few chats, and I eventually mentored Megan through the transition from operator to founder.

Candidly, I would have backed her personally, no matter what she started. So imagine my excitement when she told me she was venturing right into my wheelhouse: B2B, SaaS, Future of work, and people-tech. Imagine my delight when she shared her obsession with solving the team design problem she’d so often felt (and which I’d felt too).

When she asked if I thought it was a big enough idea for venture-scale impact, I thought I wasn’t able to size it but that I’ve learned that sizing a non-existing category can be very tricky and the best investors I worked with like Peter Fenton don’t obsess on it.

Here was an unsolved problem that affects every company that scales, a product-centric founder with 100% empathy and an opportunity to build a product many people love. I replied, go for it, all in!

With lightning speed, Megan quit her job, recruited two stellar co-founders in Stephanie Bowker (former VP Marketing at Spendesk) and Mark Allen (former Sr Engineering Manager at Glovo), built the initial team and MVP, and attracted design partners and high-profile initial customers.

How Ourspace fits our investment thesis

Opinionated products

  • Opinion #1: We need to raise the bar in how we design the teams that are literally building the software that shapes our future. A purpose-built product to design teams more efficiently and thoughtfully will expose what we’re failing to see in the status quo.
  • Opinion #2: The best products are born in spreadsheets, at that pivotal point where the problem outgrows basic rows and columns. The “how do we organise our teams” problem fits that bill, and emboldened by the right team, Megan is the person to solve it.

Ourspace fits perfectly into my SaaS thesis In-Context Collaboration— highly inspired by my friends at Emergence: productivity software natively designed for deep and contextual collaboration to deliver cross-functional JTBDs. You can call it simply the Figmatisation of software.

Crafted with love

The team is exceptionally in love with the problem. Megan, Stephanie, and Mark have all worked in Product for more than 10 years and felt the pain of building and rebuilding, organising and re-organising, scaling and scaling faster. They are passionate about finding a solution and extremely capable of doing so.

Loved by many

After just 2 weeks since opening up their beta waitlist, Ourspace has 200+ logos including more than 20 public companies waiting to try the product. They are leaders/org creators who don’t have a purposeful, intelligent, and collaborative tool to design their teams. By making team design and org management 10x more contextual, transparent, interactive, and shareable, Ourspace is a product both leaders and their people will fall in love with.

Our take on what the future holds

Companies can only survive if they are able to evolve, whether it’s pivoting a product or adapting to a new market phase. Inevitably, its people must evolve, too — in their roles, capabilities, and responsibilities.

As such, team leaders of mid-size tech companies need to continually reorganize and redesign their people structures. Megan calls this “People Tetris” a.k.a. the JTBD of Team Design. Yet there exists no purpose-built software for this.

Ourspace is fixing this gap and we’re very excited to join Megan, Stephanie, and Mark in their mission to provide leaders with more context, better collaboration, and a people-centric approach to team design.

Watch this (Our)space. 🤓