The Story Behind Haystack’s Investment In Candu

In the early days of Haystack, we would share stories about new investments. Then, the industry exploded. So many more startups. More investors chasing them. More noise. And, so, we’ve become more muted about sharing publicly what the investments are, especially at the early stages, because the times have changed – technology companies, big and small, are packed with incredible builders, features and ideas can be copied in a week, and the competition for the prize is even more intense. So, we think, for most situations, it’s better for early-stage founders to build privately under the cover of night. Eventually, some of them crawl out of their cave, finally ready to share their work.

Today, that is the path Candu has chosen. My colleague Ian Hathaway picked up a lead from a mutual friend and said, “Hey, this is pretty interesting.” I liked Jonathan, the CEO, right away. We spent time with Jonathan and his co-founder Michele, and we all just got along, especially as we discussed and debated their product insights from their times at previous startups. Ian did a terrific job advocating for the potential of Candu, and we were lucky to invest in their pre-seed round in a previous Haystack fund. As is often the case, what we discussed in the initial days — the importance of helping users along the “happy path” within a product — has morphed and changed a bit as the team has built Candu and digested feedback from their early partners. Product iteration speed and intent customer listening is critical, and Jonathan and Michele have these attributes in spades — enough so that pre-launch they were able to bring on board both Two Sigma and CRV to lead their seed round. We are always happy when companies we work with reach these mini-milestones, and especially in this case given our long friendships with both Villi and Murat with the CRV team.

Check out Candu when you get a chance. They’re fashioning themselves today as a no-code platform for customer-facing teams to quickly build intuitive interfaces to empower their users to have easier onboarding experiences, and to make the customer journey overall more engaging. We would encourage you to give Candu a whirl here. The product is already being used by a select number of private startups, mostly in the SaaS world, who want to arm all branches of their company with these powerful tools. Also, as you try out the product, please let Jonathan and the team know what you like and where they can improve. It’s your feedback that will shape Candu into the very best experience for acquiring, onboarding, and growing your customers.

I often struggle in these posts in talking about markets or product direction. The truth is, we liked Jonathan right away. He and Michele fit the mold of the early-teams we seek to find and back. Michele was full of opinions about software, and Jonathan matched him on product. Jonathan also had collected insights from his time at LaunchDarkly, and showed an ability to engage, persuade, recruit, and build a fanbase as Candu was willed from an idea into a product. It is hard to isolate this when we meet people so early, and we often make mistakes here, but with Jonathan and Michele — I described them almost as an old couple quietly bickering — struck us as both skilled and crazy enough to change how products are built and used. That’s what makes early stage investing so fun — finding and helping these kinds of people. So, congrats to Candu and the entire team, and now the next stage of the journey begins!