Tech investors and entrepreneurs talk a lot about the so-called first-mover advantage — the idea that startups can get a leg up on the competition by launching their product or service before their rivals.
But Josh Lee thinks his San Francisco startup will succeed because it took the opposite tack. Swit launched its collaboration software in March, long after competitors including Slack, Asana, and Atlassian’s Jira pioneered the market for such apps. By waiting, it was able to improve on their products and address their shortcomings, Lee said.
“This market is…saturated with great incumbents,” he said. “So we have to take the last-mover advantages.”
The problem with other collaboration apps is that none of them offer a comprehensive set of features, Lee said. Additionally, few of them are used company-wide, instead finding traction in just particular departments.
Slack is used widely for in-office messaging, but it doesn’t offer built-in support for project or task management. Jira is popular among developers for project management, but many use it in addition to Slack, and Jira isn’t frequently used outside of technology departments. Meanwhile, many companies and teams still rely on traditional email and calendar programs in addition to using Slack and Jira or Asana.
Juggling that many apps is a lot for employees to manage, and it wastes time, Lee said. Swit designed its collaboration software to incorporate numerous features so workers don’t have to keep switching between different programs. Its software offers messaging, project management, and file sharing all in one environment. Users can see and put together project scheduling charts and can view projects in an included kanban management system.
“We have seamlessly combined those two biggest components of team collaboration — messenger plus task management,” he said. “With Swit,” he continued, “users don’t have go back and forth between the two platforms any longer.”
Swit is designed to be used company-wide
What’s more, Swit designed its software so that it was flexible enough to accommodate the needs of multiple departments within enterprises. Lee wanted to create an app that would serve the collaboration needs not just of the IT department or the sales team, but to be used company-wide and to allow interaction among people of different departments. Swit, whose engineering team is largely based in Korea where the company was first established, designed its service to be flexible enough to accommodate teams of varying development methodologies, including agile, design thinking, and lean startup, he said.
“Swit is the only service for all teams,” Lee said.
Like Slack and other collaboration software providers, Swit offers both a free and a subscription version of its app. The paid version costs $10 a month when billed annually and includes extra storage and support for an unlimited number of projects and tasks. The company is planning on launching a more expensive enterprise version with additional features this fall.
Despite being late to the party, Swit has seen rapid uptake of its software. Already, just four months after Swit launched — and with minimal marketing — its service has attracted some 450 teams and 4o,000 registered users, Lee said.
It now has the chance to lure many more users. Last week, the company, which has 32 employees, announced that it has raised $6 million in seed funding in a round led by Korea Investment Partners. Before getting the new investment, Swit focused on developing its software. It plans to use the new funds to hire sales and marketing employees to promote its product and to work on partnerships and integrations with other companies and applications, he said.
“We wanted to release a solid product at the first stage,” Lee said. With the new funding, he continued, “we will accelerate our growth.”
Here is the pitch deck Lee and Swit used to raise its seed round: