After bootstrapping for 5+ years, Wrike has raised $1 million for its social project management and collaboration software

By Editor July 6, 2012

Wrike_logoA Q&A with Wrike founder and CEO Andrew Filev. The Campbell, California–based company was founded in 2006 and just raised its first round of funding ($1 million) in mid-June from TMT Investments.

SUB: Please describe what Wrike is, and the value proposition you bring to collaboration and the enterprise.

Filev: In one phrase, today Wrike is the leading social project management and collaboration software. The tool brings the best of familiar social tools into work: ease of use, scalability and collaborative potential. We weave all these into our ‘work graph.’ That’s the concept at the core of our product. The main idea is to connect people and their work in one spot. The biggest advantage of this model is that, no matter how many tasks you’re working on, Wrike gives you one entry point, one hub for all your work items. So our system allows teams of any size to organize, share and collaborate on their day-to-day work in real time quickly, easily and efficiently.

SUB: Who are your target users?

Filev: Our target users are all information workers, which count to 1 billion today. We aim to make them all more productive, one company at a time. Wrike’s features help people across all organizational levels—team members, managers, executives, as well as business owners. Today, our social project management mix is trusted by thousands of companies from more than 50 countries. They range from small, local businesses to global industry leaders, like Kraft Foods, EMC and Adobe.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Filev: Our market is highly saturated, but I’d highlight Asana, AtTask and Basecamp as direct competitors.

SUB: What differentiates Wrike from the competition?

Filev: I think it’s our customers who know it better than anyone else. Many of them try dozens of solutions before making the final choice. When they share their feedback on why Wrike won them over, they highlight the ease of adoption, the mix of social features and full-featured project management, unlimited projects all in one workspace, Wrike’s helpfulness for remote teams, and much more. Check out the customer success stories on our site to get the first-hand user perspective.

We have a very strong product team that thinks ahead of today. Wrike was the first to introduce many innovative features to the market, which seem like must-haves today, like our patented email integration, interactive HTML-based Gantt chart and real-time collaboration in the PM space. There are too many examples to list here, but the main thing that you can count on is that we have a team of world-class engineers and designers who continuously think about how to take complex ideas and turn them into a simple and beautiful product. That conveyor never stops, and we release updates every other week.

SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?

Filev: I started the company in 2006, and the product had its marketing launch a year after that. To make a long story short, the beginning of Wrike’s journey can be best described in the following way: it’s about taking your own challenges in project management and collaboration that you face every day, and solving them for everyone.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Wrike? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?

Filev: I was running a software business prior to Wrike, and I was always looking for new ways to boost my own efficiency and my team’s efficiency. Traditional project management software that I tried felt rather clumsy and didn’t facilitate collaboration. Also, it didn’t support agile practices. In addition, I had to run multiple projects simultaneously with geographically distributed teams.

While I couldn’t find that one ‘silver bullet’ solution, I’ve fallen back on email as the primary communication tool, with wikis and excel supporting me, as many others do. Messy reply-on-reply threads, attachments buried in the middle of them, the overall chaos of the mailbox and lost tasks—my team and I were just as familiar with these problems as most other business users. And since we were working as a distributed team, the importance of smooth communication and collaboration was even more pronounced.

This is how the journey started. But even today, when Wrike is one of the top apps on the market, we continue working hard to make you more productive. Right now the big focus is on mobile and integrating with all the other tools you use daily.

SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?

Filev: Actually, the constraints that I faced in my own work experience helped me a lot in developing Wrike. Today, collaboration tools are on everybody’s wish list, but I was lucky that my personal challenges drove this thinking ahead of the trend and led to some key innovations that Wrike brought to the world.

SUB: You recently raised $1 million in funding. What are your plans for the funds?

Filev: We were profitable when we raised money, so there’s no revolution coming. However, we always have 1,001 ideas on how to make things even better, and the funding will help us move faster along that road. The key words here are mobile, integrations, platform, freemium and enterprise. Keep an eye on our announcements to see how it all develops in the next few months.

SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?

Filev: Since I started the business, Wrike has been successfully developing as a bootstrapped, self-funded company. We were getting funding offers along the way, but we preferred to stay on our course and grow naturally. This way, we could closely listen to our users and quickly iterate based on their needs. We recently got an offer from a VC who understood our culture and was not pushing for control, board seat or minimum ownership. This provided a good context to raise a small round, accelerate the growth and continue doing what works best for us and our customers. I think ‘organic’ is the word that would best describe this funding because it doesn’t require any modifications of our company’s DNA. We want to stay close to customers and do things in an iterative, agile and lean way. This is reflected in our funding strategy.

SUB: What are your goals for Wrike over the next year or so?

Filev: Like I already mentioned in one of my previous answers, we have a lot of exciting plans in the pipeline—powerful product releases, new integrations, localizing the interface to more languages, and much more. I don’t want to drop any spoilers, so stay tuned for all the news.

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