We raised €2.2M to launch the open-source platform for growing developer communities
We’re excited to announce that crowd.dev raised €2.2M to improve how developer-first businesses harness online communities. Seedcamp and Lightbird led our pre-seed funding with participation from Possible Ventures, Angel Invest, NevrSeen, and notable angel investors, including Russ Heddleston, Cedric Sellin, Matthäus Krzykowski, and Christian Stiebner. Furthermore, today marks the release of our open-source offering.
“We at Seedcamp have backed many developer-focused companies, and we have seen firsthand how important community building is to their long-term growth. crowd.dev’s tools give a startup all they need to radically simplify community-led growth. Their open-source, developer-first approach is a game changer for any business whose developer community is critical to their success.” – Devin Hunt (Venture Partner, Seedcamp)
Why we started crowd.dev
We created crowd.dev with the belief that the future of business relies on thriving communities – particularly in the fast-growing open-source and developer space. Developers have increased buying power when it comes to the technologies their companies use, and the way to their hearts isn’t through paid ads or sales reps but through authentic community interactions. In other words, developer-first companies need communities as a growth channel.
While playing a central role for every developer-first company, community building is complex and time-consuming work. The developer community tech stack is fragmented, and organizations are stuck managing endless platforms (think Github, Discord, Twitter, Reddit, etc.) and working with incomplete data. This makes it tricky to return tangible business value from community bulding efforts.
I’ve previously built communities in the open-source space and experienced firsthand the difficulties involved, with no existing tools that supported the integrations and features I needed. With my co-founder Joan I therefore started building crowd.dev in 2021. We built the product with the vision to help developer-first companies find, engage, support, and collaborate with the right developers, to ultimately help them reach their growth goals through a vibrant community.
Since the beginning of 2022, several hundred organizations have joined our closed beta, including some of the fastest growing open-source companies in the world, like Meilisearch, CrowdSec, or Dragonfly.
The need for a developer-focused community tool
Today, the term “community” gets used to describe everything from social media followers to online learning groups to DAOs. There has been a lot of hype around community, but the ability to turn it into real value and growth is still lacking.
We see the need for a platform focussing solely on developer communities. “One-size-fits-all” doesn’t make sense when communities are different in terms of their members’ motivations, the platforms that they live on, or the business objective that they should fulfill. Similar to CRMs, we believe there will be a verticalization in the community software space. And we’re here to help developer-focused communities and companies thrive.
This allows us to build a truly opinionated product that’s not just producing fancy-looking graphs for your next board meeting. Today, our beta users can already use Eagle Eye to find and engage with content across developer community platforms like HackerNews or DEV, or keep their community’s Q&A conversations in sync with their Community Help Center. We’ll also launch template-based reports in November that will provide you with benchmarks and recommendations based on industry best practices.
Going forward, we plan to augment our users’ community data. We already offer rich sentiment analysis and data enrichment tools to extract real value from community data, and we plan to offer much more going forward. Building uniquely for developer communities allows us to keep an eye on macro industry trends, analyze community-led growth best practices, and give our users concrete recommendations about how they can build and grow communities. This just wouldn’t be possible if we would try to serve all sorts of communities.
Last but not least, our integrations roadmap also benefits from niching down. Most developer-focused companies have quite a similar tool stack. Therefore, reaching a point where we can support a sufficient stack across the organization (think sales, marketing, customer support, product, etc.) is within reach.
Today we also announce that crowd.dev is open-source.
We believe that an essential tool for open-source companies, as community management is, should be open-source itself. There are, of course, the more common reasons around data privacy (many enterprises still don’t use any community tool due to privacy concerns), customizability, code longevity, and the prevention of vendor lock-in. However, the main driver to go open-source was to create our own community where developers and companies come together to build “community-led software”.
We see endless applications for how all software will adapt to the community-led era, for example, customer service tools that recognize unsolved issues on community platforms or recruiting software that considers community contributions. While we’d love to build all these use cases, we realize this takes an industry rather than a single company.
We spent considerable time getting the foundation right, including building integrations, cleaning and processing data, and matching identities across different platforms. Once we had this core foundation, building new applications for different use cases got massively easier. For instance, it only took us 2 weeks to build the first version of Community Help Center. This app alone could be a company’s business.
It would be a waste of resources for every company building community-led software to go out and build the foundations. That’s why we believe there is a need for an open community data infrastructure that makes it easy and accessible to build apps on top of it.
If you’re excited about our vision of an open-source community operating system, there are several ways to get involved:
To everyone who has supported us from the very early days, to the new investors joining the project, to all beta users who were patient and extremely supportive, and most importantly, to all incredible humans who joined our team and trust in our vision: Thank you ❤️
-Jonathan (Co-Founder & CEO, crowd.dev)