Community-led growth (CLG) has emerged as a popular mechanism for business promotion as companies strive to cultivate an ecosystem of passionate users that attracts new customers organically, acts as a support network for millions, and completely beats the drum of a company. same will.
Businesses like Stripe, Slack, Canva, Notion and Figma have grown significantly from their respective communities, which in turn has led to a host of new technologies dedicated to helping such businesses tap into their fan base, discover their biggest supporters and keep the CLG flywheel spinning. Investors have also taken notice: in the past year alone we’ve seen companies like Commsor raise $50 million in Series B. Common Room Security $52 million. Threado draw in a round of $3.1 million. and, most recently, Talkbase is raising $2 million to fuel user-driven development for any company.
Now, another new company has entered the community-driven development fray with a slightly different approach to existing players, one focused on developer communities and with open source at its core.
Founded by Berlin in 2021, Crowd.dev aggregates data from a myriad of developer communities, including GitHub, Discord, Slack, Twitter, DEV, and Hacker News, and delivers analytics and workflow automation on top of that aggregated data.
For example, a developer tools company might want to better understand its users and build relationships with both them and their employers to improve their product and find a better product-market fit. This can include collecting and viewing all direct and indirect feedback in a single interface, or using one of Crowd.dev’s leading tools, such as Eagle Eye, which relies on natural language processing (NLP) to identify community conversations that are ripe for engagement.
To help take things to the next level, Crowd.dev just raised €2.2 million ($2.2 million) in a pre-seed funding round led by Seedcamp and Lightbird, with participation from Possible Ventures, Angel Invest and a handful of angel backers. On top of that, the German startup has open-sourced its core platform, a move that goes some way toward differentiating itself in an increasingly crowded space.
But first, it’s worth considering Why Developer-focused companies may need a dedicated platform to direct their community-driven development efforts, since the incumbents can already be used for any user community — including developers.
Crowd.dev CEO and co-founder Jonathan Reimer argues that the word “community” has a wide range of connotations and could mean anything from social media influencers to online learning groups. Ultimately, a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t work—a company laser-focused on attracting developers will likely need different tools to a company seeking to attract creators or crypto fans.
“There’s been hype around community, but also frustration about new tools made to make community building easier,” Reimer explained to TechCrunch. “I have tried [existing] tools in previous jobs and I was never satisfied as they didn’t fit my use case. Similar to CRM (customer relationship management software), we believe there will be verticalization in the community software space. We are the first to enter the developer space.”
This “verticalization” is important when it comes to creating a platform that people actually want to use. In the case of Crowd.dev, which aims to create a product that suggests actions a user can take based on data from the developer community, specializing in this way allows them to better customize their product and “build more reliable model’, as Reimer puts it, for example, in terms of detecting feedback or evaluating emotion.
“Achieving this for all kinds of communities at once would be incredibly difficult,” Reimer said. “Developer communities have amazing similarities, and especially for open source communities, we have access to a ton of historical training data.”
The open source factor
Open source communities have long played a fundamental role in driving software adoption, which is partly why a growing number of companies are choosing to make their products available under an open source license. If developers are able to operate the software themselves with minimal friction, contribute some code, and even add new features, they are more inclined to use the software in their workplaces — and thus, more inclined to convince employers them that it is worth paying for premium features over and above the open source product. And this is the main driving force behind Crowd.dev’s focus on open source development communities and the reasons why it is open-sourcing its own platform.
“We believe that an essential tool for developer-focused open source companies — such as community management — should be open source itself,” Reimer said.
Moving to an open source platform can have other benefits as well. For example, businesses looking for greater transparency and control over their data can host Crowd.dev on their own infrastructure and then pay Crowd.dev to unlock access to unlimited users and integrations. Or companies can choose to pay for the hosted incarnation of Crowd.dev, which includes a basic free tier in addition to more advanced business plans.
In its short life so far, Crowd.dev claims a pretty impressive list of clients, including The Linux Foundation and Microsoft, a company that has increasingly embraced open source over the past eight years after a somewhat lukewarm attitude toward in community-based software for years past.
Reimer said Microsoft is using Crowd.dev to power Flatcar Linux, a Linux distribution for containerized workloads that is now running after acquiring developer Kinvolk in 2021.
“They use Crowd.dev primarily to analyze the engagement of community members, find relevant astrologers on GitHub, and generate reports,” Reimer said.
In fact, Microsoft and its big tech companies won’t be typical users, due to the fact that most of Crowd.dev’s target customers will be smaller companies looking to grow. However, it’s an indication of the public opinion that Crowd.dev has been able to secure so far, with “several hundred organizations” joining the company’s beta product since March of this year.
“Eighty percent of our users are companies between Seed and Series B that see the community as one of their critical growth channels,” Reimer said.
With a fresh €2.2 million in the bank, the company said it plans to add more apps and data integrations to the mix before making it generally available to the public.