12 Software Companies to Watch in 2021

As we approach the final quarter of 2020, it’s time to start casting our minds to the future. In the tech and product worlds, 2020 has been another rollercoaster of a year, with a few more bumps and loops than usual!

Some software companies have seen a massive increase in usage, thanks to the ‘new normal.’ Major European cities had to severely limit bandwidth speeds in the spring, to stop their locked down and Netflix-hungry residents from crashing the system. Nike’s app, Nike Training Club, experienced a significant boost in usage as it provided home workouts for many in quarantine. Let’s not even get started on Zoom and Animal Crossing!

Outside of these household names are other software companies who thrived in 2020, and who we can expect bigger and better things from in 2021.

1. Airtable

Airtable logo

What do Netflix, Tesla, and Time have in common? The answer is Airtable.

Many of you may be familiar with Airtable’s platform, a spreadsheet-database hybrid, which officially reached unicorn status in 2018. In September 2020, they raised a $185 million series D funding round. Today, the company is worth over $2.5 billion.

What do people love about Airtable? The product is hailed for its no-code capabilities, allowing managers of all disciplines and backgrounds to create spreadsheets tailored specifically to their workflows without needing to ask for help. The company recently also started adding low-code features and integration with JavaScript through the new Airtable Apps, allowing more tech-savvy users to make the most out of the platform.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? CEO Howie Liu is building Airtable to last. According to TechCrunch, he’s working to ensure that Airtable is in it for the long haul, throughout the pandemic and beyond.

With 200,000 customers, many the biggest brand names on Earth, and a valuation that doesn’t seem to be slowing down, we’re keen to see what the next year brings for Airtable.

2. Canva

Canva

Canva has been on the scene for the last 8 years, providing marketers and freelancers with the tools to create their own marketing materials. Run by CEO Melanie Perkins, the company has risen from a $3.2 billion valuation in $6 billion in 2020, a massive 87.5% increase. They also recently launched a desktop app for Mac, and earned a spot on the Forbes Cloud 100 list, making them one of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? Along with new releases and a huge boost in their B2B growth (50% since the start of COVID-19), Canva has also announced some high-profile partnerships. In 2019, Skyscanner used Canva to roll out a full rebrand to its 100 million global users in just six months.

For budding Product Managers wanting to work in the design space, it’s also ranked pretty highly on Glassdoor as a great place to work, with employees citing a great company culture and the perfect work/life balance.

Check out: Product Managers, Here’s How to Make Your Designers Love You

3. Chartio

Chartio

Chartio, a data management, analysis and visualization platform is already well loved by Product Managers. Their mission is to make data accessible for everyone, as democratized data empowers product teams of all sizes and capabilities.

They have an impressive list of technology and data partners. Based in San Francisco they’ve to date won $6.8 million in funding, and thanks to the rising growth in data democratization within tech teams.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? Data is on the rise, there’s no question about it. Companies know that they need weave data into every level of their organization, and with their data school and above-par customer service, Chartio is leading the charge.

4. Dave

Dave

The goal of Dave is to help their users ‘thrive, not just survive, between paychecks.’ They use a tip-based system rather than mandatory fees and operate on a system of transparency. The name is derived from David and Goliath, Goliath in this case being traditional banks.

They launched in 2017, making them relatively new on the Fintech scene, to a 50,000 strong waitlist. Their main mission is to help solve the problem 1 in 4 Americans have, as they pay exorbitant fees on their overdrafts.

At their latest valuation they were worth $1.2 billion, with $76 million won in funding from investors including Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? With 3.5 million users, a rapidly growing team, and a spot on Forbes top Fintech newcomers in 2020, this LA based startup is set to make waves in the new year and beyond.

You might also be interested in: Unpacking Fintech: Impactful Product Mangement

5. Drift

Drift logo

Drift didn’t exactly invent conversational marketing, but they coined the term and made it into the powerful marketing movement that it is today. So without Drift, conversational marketing as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. Their AI powered solutions make automated marketing simple, easy to integrate into teams’ stacks, and their chatbot remains one of the best in the business.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? In July 2020 they closed out the best quarter in company history, and this year have made it onto a number of high-profile lists, including Forbes’ top 50 AI companies, Inc’s Best Workplaces, and Gartner’s Top 50 enterprise software companies. As the situation in 2020 forces more companies to automate their processes, and adopt more conversational tactics with customers, Drift’s future seems very bright.

6. Figma

Figma logo

Figma is a tool which enables in-browser, real-time collaboration for distributed design teams. It’s not hard to make the leap to figure out why that would be useful nowadays! But even before the new normal, Figma were on the rise!

The tool allows everyone from designers to marketing teams to work in-browser, eradicating the problem of ‘who has which version of the software.’

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? CEO Dylan Field stated that 2020 has been an ‘acceleration period’ for the platform, with Figma being used for everything from wireframing for new digital products, to virtual whiteboarding, to making skins for video games. With a new valuation of $2 billion, and rapid adoption across a multitude of disciplines, you’d better keep your eye on Figma!

7. FullStory

Fullstory logo

Every good Product Manager knows that retention is just as important for successful growth as acquisition. But that can’t be hard to do when you’re not sure why your customers are leaving you. FullStory is a powerful analytics engine which helps to pinpoint where customers are struggling along their journey.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? Recently raising a $10 million funding round, FullStory has got big things on the horizon. Founded by former Google engineers, no one knows customer retention like FullStory, and we fully expect to see great things from them in 2021.

8. Heap

Heap Logo

Predicting the future is hard to do, but Heap’s analytics platform provides an infrastructure which automatically captures customer interactions, makes sense of them, and helps make them actionable.

They also went out of their way to empower their customers to make the right decisions in 2020, in part with their eBook ‘Top 10 Product Questions for Times of Rapid Change.’

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? 2020 saw a series of very successful funding rounds for Heap, as well as expansion of their team. With ambitious scaling goals and an army of loyal users, the rest of the quarter and the year to come will surely see great things for this analytics giant.

9. Miro

Miro logo

There’s a barely a Product team in the world that wouldn’t benefit from Miro, and many of them already do. Gone are the days of having to work on a physical whiteboard, and make sure someone remembers to take a photo before vacating the meeting room for the next team to come in!

Miro’s online collaborative platform lets teams collaborate together in real time, planning projects, working on wireframes, taking votes on prioritization, and brainstorming.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? Miro have 8 million worldwide users, including Dell, Salesforce, Netflix, Deloitte, and Spotify. Lauded as a company ‘in the right place at the right time‘ Miro are helping distributed teams at a time when they’re needed most.

10. Notion

Notion

Notion has been hovering around Silicon Valley for the last year or so, and is now spreading its wings across the rest of the world as well. The new workplace productivity app can be used for work, school, daily life, hobbies, and side projects, with a community of template-builders making and sharing new ways to use the platform. You can even hire a professional freelance Notion designer to set you up.

Why it’s a company to watch in 2021: In 2020, Notion reached a $2 billion valuation, and enjoyed rapid growth, with its user base nearly quadrupling in a very short amount of time. A great asset to the company is the community that has been built around it, with people making an actual living off of teaching others how to make the most of it.

This rapid, community-driven growth is a sign of great things to come in the future for Notion.

11. Pendo

Pendo logo

Pendo’s Product Cloud is a must-have for product teams, giving them all of the tools needed to plan, build, and grow something great. With tools used to power feature adoption, customer retention, company growth, user onboarding, and much more, Pendo’s mission is to help you understand your product’s journey from one single platform.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? Product Managers in particular will benefit greatly from keeping an eye on Pendo. Their free learning resources and their Productcraft community are an endlessly valuable source of knowledge for PMs and their teams. As for the company itself, Pendo ranked #54 on the prestigious Forbes Cloud 100 list, and enjoys a growth which seems to just keep accelerating.

12. Roadmunk

roadmunk logo

When you want to validate how impactful a tool is, take a look at their client list. If Roadmunk powers the teams behind the products at Nike, Slack, Amazon, Expedia, Ubisoft, Mastercard, and more, you can trust them to get the job done right.

It’s a powerful tool, which focuses on capturing feedback and keeping you customer-focused, making prioritization easy, and providing ‘boardroom-ready’ roadmap templates. Their podcast, Product to Product, is particularly well loved within the community.

Why is it a company to watch in 2021? Roadmunk is a platform built specifically for product people, by product people. As Product Management grows in both scope and popularity, the tools built for it and loved by its users will continue to grow alongside it. Product Managers love Roadmunk, and the future loves Product Managers!

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