Bill Magnuson, a graduate from MIT who was 23 at the time, and Jonathan Hyman, a Harvard graduate who was 25, were working in South Connecticut. In May 2011 they decided to enter the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in New York City. Now, do you guys believe in destiny? Because this next part sounds exactly like the beginning of a biopic waiting to be directed.
In the city, while getting across a busy street they had a brief encounter with Mark Ghermezian who was 28 at the time. Yes, this is the same Mark who was the CEO and co-founder of Appboy (later braze). The duo won the Hackathon following which Mark reached out to them. The three met, the connection only grew stronger, and without any further ado, they quit their jobs and moved permanently to New York to build a company.
Once we decided we were going to do this, we got involved in the app community and figured out where the pain points were for developers and where the tool sets were missing. We found that while there were a slew of tools to help people understand their customers in brick and mortar, on the web, and on TV, mobile was way behind. - Bill Magnuson (source)
It didn’t take them long to get seed capital for their idea. The NYC-based startup raised $1 million in November that same year led by Blumberg Capital among other investors. Not long after, in March 2012 they raised another $1.5 million in seed funding from the same investors as before while also opening Appboy beta to the public. With all that said, what exactly was Appboy?
Back in 2012, at the top of their game in tech were mobile phones and social media. In a sense, the founders were way ahead of their time. They realized that social media and mobiles will only become more tangentially interdependent over time. Well, the proof is in the pudding - phones and socials these days are like De Niro and gangster movies. The idea behind Appboy was to create a product that bridges the gap between quality products and the customers that can benefit from the product. Also, there wasn’t really a way for developers or companies, in general, to receive any feedback from customers apart from public platforms. They guys sought this as an opportunity.
Appboy was developed as a fully integrated management platform for mobile app developers and the apps they’ve built. It consisted of an SDK that resided within the host application, enabling developers to provide CRM tools, encourage social-media sharing, and promotions. And there was the user dashboard that allowed developers to share resources and collect personal feedback. Keeping in mind the importance of data-driven decision-making, Appboy could easily plug into social apps like Twitter and Facebook, while also providing internally collected analytics for developers to understand user behavior and differentiate valuable customers.
Over the course of the next 3-4 years, Appboy continued to grow tremendously in the mobile space. From an IOS-only platform, they also expanded towards Android with the realization that tech in mobile will continue to witness an exponential growth that transcends the limits imagined by businesses. What was thought out to be a uni-dimensional platform later revealed itself to be an omnichannel and cross-platform technology with immense scope for expanse. Appboy bagged 4 rounds of funding worth close to $100 million before realizing “well, it’s time for a change”.
"We built our product and company for an evolving cross-channel landscape with mobile at its vanguard. The evaluation emphasizes our sophisticated product capabilities, enterprise-class platform, and overall strategic vision to build personal and humanized interactions and connections between brands and customers.” - Bill Magnuson (source)
The company as a whole came to an understanding that what they represented with Appboy was now evolving to mean so much more than what they stood for. It was a sense of recognition and acknowledgment of the fact that the tech ecosystem in which they were key players has now extended its role of being just an ‘app’. In a world of hyperconnectivity, you need to be able to upgrade yourself before you become obsolete.
A new brand name has to work across the board. It has to resonate with your current and potential clients. Trademarks and web domains have to be available. And if you’re a global brand the way we are, you’ve got to make sure your new name doesn’t mean something profane in Mandarin or Hindi. - Marissa Aydlett, Ex-SVP Marketing (source)
And so eventually they decided on the name Braze - which means to bond or unite something with strength. The idea with Braze was to further blur the lines and unite people and technology. Help make data more accessible, readable, and usable to improve a brand’s customer relations. At its core, Braze wanted to be a cohesive and coherent product that people could rely on despite the changing technological landscape.
But rebranding can be a daunting task to undertake. You can’t just write a blog about it and change your logo all of a sudden, especially not for a company of that stature. At the time braze had 200 employees all around the world with thousands of customers using their platform to share millions of messages with customers. Rebranding means a change of visual identity, tone of communication, company values, new website, CMS, new corporate identities, new email accounts, among so many tiny details that cannot be overlooked. And all this is just on the front side of the brand. There are technicals involved, databases, product feature updates, so much to look into. And all this was accomplished in six months. Quite impressive.
Braze has become a multichannel marketing platform for better customer-relationship engagement and management. It conformed into a platform allowing control of user experiences from a single interface to manage cross-channel messaging to get better prospects, in-app messages for better engagement, and email marketing to retain or get back customers. With stronger data analytics and personalization, braze offers an all-in-one platform for companies to take their customer relations a step further.
In November 2021, Braze opened its IPO which netted a total of $520 million. As the stocks opened on Nasdaq, the price was 34% higher than what was the price during the initial offering. The listing brought braze’s valuation to $8 billion.
Currently braze has more than 3 billion active users who engage with the brands they love. The company has more than 1000 paying customers in the B2B space boasting affiliations with giants like GAP, HBO, PayPal, Intuit, The Guardian, Etsy among others. Braze in the UK was named the 6th best place to work in 2021 and has also been named a leader in cross-channel campaign management by Forrester.
You can’t spell community without unity and that’s what the word Braze represents. Customer engagement and communities go hand-in-hand, which is the idea that Braze leveraged to account for better customer relations aka harnessed the power of community. Let’s look at a few ways in which they did it.
In 2019, Braze launched Bonfire which is a community of people using braze’s platform to connect with newer customers. The community is hosted on Slack and has grown to 5,000+ members since inception. With various channels to explore and engage with, users can talk about anything from new job postings, to braze product features and even discuss their growth strategies for better marketing and/or customer management.
Starting with a very personalized message, Braze gives you a warm welcome into the community.
The intros in the community are fun and encouraging. Check this out 👇
Every week, Maggie Brennan, who is the Community Manager at Braze, talks about all that has happened in the community like - customer jobs, upcoming events in the community, and even welcoming the newest members.
Braze is a comprehensive multichannel platform for making the best of customer engagement. It offers a complete 101 guide of using the product for a wide variety of applicability.
Complete documentation that covers everything from introductions, onboarding, and data to data-driven decision-making and intelligent tools within the product.
User guide but for developers to work with technicals and integrations with API.
This is a celebration of customers for leading the charge on change within their organizations. By becoming a member of Braze Firebrands, customers can take part in industry-wide activities that will help:
Become a customer-relationship expert with Braze by exploring real-world use cases, improving your skills, and testing your progress.
Let the world know about your skills with Braze by completing various certifications offered by Braze.
In a 3 hour class, a Braze marketing expert guides you through marketing technology concepts, working with Braze, and state-of-the-art strategies to make the best of the platform for better customer enablement and management.
Braze has an e-learning platform that allows you to explore the product concepts on your own at your own time and pace.
Braze for impact is a digital marketing podcast series brought to you by Braze. Each episode features industry experts from around the world who discuss current trends and future possibilities. You can listen to podcasts featuring CEOs, Managers, Executives, and more.
FORGE is an annual event at Braze that highlights the essentials of marketing to make the best of digital platforms in a mobile-driven world. To help brands leap to better marketing, Braze puts together marketing leaders and customer engagement experts to host a conference. With more than two dozen sessions, innovators from brands like Delivery Hero, HBO Max, IBM, and more share insights on how to break down organizational silos and improve experiences as well as strategies.
Here’s a glimpse of what FORGE 2020 looked like👇
Virtual webinars and in-person events about everything Braze. These events include featured guest speakers from leading organizations, or even Braze executives speaking about marketing tips and tricks, customer engagement, and even product releases.
For instance, the Grow with Braze series features leading experts to see how their organizations improved marketing and customer engagement, and experience. Here’s the recent webinar featuring Tim Hortons and Branch.
Braze hasn’t just bridged the gap between people and technology, but between customers and community as well. They want the world to realize the importance of customer relationships, especially now more than ever. Since the last two years, there has been a dramatic increase in customer expectation and hence has altered how brands handle customer engagement. Braze realized the power of community and how can it help its customers make quality conversions by not just using Braze as a product but also as a platform for making human connections.
What’s next for Braze is more webinars, community events like Bonfire Book Club and Long-term Relationships (LTR) conference just accounts for the ideas that Braze brings to the table to make marketing and customer engagement easier catalyzing community. Needless to say, their future looks bright in terms of community-led growth, so, Braze yourselves!
How it started
So much more than a quirky name
An iconic rebranding - From Appboy to Braze
Reaching for the stars 💫
Welcome to the Braze Community
All the Love
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In a way, Thunkable was built from the ground up, without having to build it from the ground up. As time progressed, they were able to fix some of the major issues that existed.
And to truly offer something that has any value, the argument put forth is an approach to build an organization inside-out. Why does my organization exist in the first place?