Grain, a four-year-old, completely third-party startup that is finding increasingly comprehensive ways to capture video clips from online meetings for easy sharing, search and storage of important moments, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Tiger Global management.
Other backers in the round include Zoom itself, the Slack Fund, Unusual Ventures and Freestyle VC.
We spoke to Grain co-founder and CEO Mike Adams exactly two years ago, during the onset of the pandemic, when Grain previously set out to capture content in video calls that can be shared across platforms including Twitter, Salesforce, Discord, Notion, Slack and iMessages.
Even then—perhaps especially then—the company’s proposition made sense in many scenarios. Think of the student who wants to record part of a virtual lecture, or a colleague who wants to highlight the most important information to be conveyed in an online meeting.
The young company already had many bells and whistles at the time. Adams then told us that Grain could transcribe content into clips and allow users to enable closed captioning. He said video clips can range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes and can be strung together to create summary highlights. He also told us that users could trim or adjust the length of a highlight after it was recorded, as well as control who could edit the video afterward to prevent nefarious actors from manipulating the clips.
Now Adams says he and his brother Jake — a former software engineer at Branch Metrics with whom he co-founded the company — have also started selling many of their customers based on Grain’s vision of shared information libraries. “We’re creating a video conferencing system for content,” says Adams. With Grain, employees can “click and collaborate on insights or topics or relationships or teams.”
As a true founder, he immodestly calls this “an entirely new asset class.”
The pitch is convincing. For example, human resources departments can save and archive recruitment videos for future reference. You can also imagine that sales leads want to capture and categorize customer interviews so that it is easier for a wider group of participants to understand a bug or pain point in a company’s offering.
“’Voice of the customer’ used to be synonymous with a SurveyMonkey customer survey, but surveys are useless,” says Adams. “Libraries with insights that allow a team to have and share a micro moment — even highlighting roles of 10 meetings with clients — is a much more engaging way to share the reality of an experience.”
Time, he adds, is a “scarcity, and we organize information so our customers can find signals in the chaos and noise.” But, of course, Grain also tries to keep its customers.
“There’s a weak part of this opportunity,” admits Adams. “Once people have a place where their content lives and they set up their integrations with Grain and Slack or Grain and Salesforce and they build this amount of knowledge, it won’t be easy to switch providers.”
At the same time, Grain itself is working to become less dependent on Zoom. While Zoom was the only video conferencing company Grain worked with the last time we spoke to Adams and remains a “really good source for user acquisition,” he says, Grain is “regardless of what video platform” a company uses, he emphasizes.
As for customer adoption, Adams says Grain — which charges $19 per user per month for access to all library video content and the unlimited ability to create new content — now has “thousands of customers,” including the SaaS platform Zapier.
He adds that its technology is usually embraced by one department within a company and distributed from there. In this regard, he points to Utah-based software company Podium, where he says a product manager was the first to use Grain’s desktop app and where Grain has since sold 100 more “seats” and still sees room to grow. . (Podium has about 2,000 employees.)
Indeed, Grain, which employs 27 people around the world and previously raised $4 million from investors, has a strong focus on expanding as quickly as possible without getting ahead of the curve.
While Adams doesn’t see Grain operating in a winner-take-all market, there are many rivals it competes with, including Debrief, Descript, and Perfect Recall, just to name a few.
The new financing should help with that.
Grain also recently acquired PingPong, a video messaging platform backed by YC, TechStars and MatchStick ventures, and brought on board PingPong founder Jeff Whitlock as head of operations.
It is not disclosing the terms of the deal.