Investing in Plain

Posted: 9 Nov 2022

CS without the BS

When you focus your investment activity on SaaS as I do, you know that the Customer Service (CS) category is like the Champion’s League of B2B software — it is the largest software category in terms of business impact and market value.

Why? because every company that has customers, has customer service. Regardless of industry or size, CS tooling is absolutely critical to any customer-centric business. Entire companies are successfully turning CS into a key differentiator at the brand, product, and operational levels.

However, despite playing such a crucial role, Customer Service sits in that awkward position where it’s mission-critical for the business yet gets comparatively little investment and support from the rest of the company.

CS products, in fact, have been historically built with a sole focus on Customer Service teams as buyers, without relying on Engineering for anything custom or advanced. Because of this assumption, customer service tools have ended up behaving like isolated systems and databases in their own right, mostly ignoring companies’ internal systems, backends, and databases. These plug-and-play SaaS apps are closed, centralized and require a whole patchwork of workarounds and fixes which are impossible to scale with larger and more complex use cases. And let’s be honest, unless you’re knitting a quilt, nobody likes patchwork.

Since at Connect we like playing Champions League (and don’t like knitting), I am very excited to announce that we have partnered with Plain.

Plain is the customer support platform that’s both delightful to use, but also incredibly easy to build withBuilt API-fist, opinionated, and incredibly fast to use. Its mission: to build the customer service platform for companies that build and want their internal tools to be as good as their external products.

How we crossed paths

I met Simon, Plain’s Co-Founder and CEO when I tried to hire him as a Product Partner for Connect. Unfortunately for me, he was in that unmistakable, stealthy ideation phase for a new company he wanted to start. Then he suddenly came out of stealth mode.

  • Brand: Plain.
  • Headline: CS without the BS.
  • Company name: Not Just Tickets Ltd.

How much more opinionated can you get? 🤯

Graham Paterson and I borderline stalked Simon for the next 9 months, despite not even seeing the product yet, and eventually convinced him to let us lead their seed investment round. Index Ventures and several exceptional angels also participated, including Soleio, who led early design at Facebook and served as an advisor to Figma; former Gainsight COO Allison Pickens; former Algolia CEO Nicolas Dessaigne; co-founder at GoCardless and Nested Matt Robinson; former Deliveroo CPTO and Monzo CPO Mike Hudack; and Stedi founder and CEO Zack Kanter.

How Plain fits our investment thesis

Opinionated products

Plain challenges the deep-rooted practices of the customer service landscape.

  • Opinion #1: A customer is a customer, not a ticket or a conversation.
  • Opinion #2: API-first. Prioritise the developer experience above all else.
  • Opinion #3: Don’t attempt to replace internal systems, but rather become a natural extension of them.

Crafted with love

Plain’s Co-Founders, Simon Rohrbach and Matt Vagni, craft Plain with all their love for the problem. Working together at Deliveroo, both repeatedly experienced the pain of poor customer service tools. They believe that great customer service is powered by great tooling and that today, building great tools for customer service is too hard, too time intensive, and too complex. And Plain exists to remove those barriers.

Loved by many

Customer service is an established software category, with proven market size, customer demand, and monetization off the bat. Plain’s playbook is all about singular and opinionated product execution, one that does 10x better on a few select elements that matter to a specific initial segment (i.e. product — and engineering-minded companies), even if it omits a handful of other functionalities offered by incumbents.

Our take on what the future holds

We believe that customer service is the next huge SaaS category that is ripe for innovation as it turns more towards serving developers and APIs first. Plain is the most powerful way to help companies to serve their customers.

We are thrilled to partner with Simon and Matt on their mission to build the customer service platform for the companies of the next decade.

🚀🚀🚀 Plain is on Product Hunt: check it out and upvote 😎