Runway raises $2M seed, launches its ‘air traffic control’ system for mobile app releases (TechCrunch)
Today, the Runway team is incredibly proud to announce that we’ve raised seed funding to help us build on the foundation we’ve already laid and accelerate towards our expansive vision of better releases for the mobile world. And, to that end, today we’re also announcing that Runway is launching out of private “early access” mode and opening up to all mobile teams! We’re thrilled to now welcome all comers to the Runway platform, and we’re grateful to be propelled into this next chapter with the support and belief of our funding partners in this round (among them Bedrock Capital, Array Ventures, and Chapter One).
Seeing the impact we've already had on our early adopters over the past year has cemented our dedication to this Runway project, and we’re excited to continue the journey alongside more amazing mobile teams.
We’ve lived through the releases pain point ourselves
Our co-founders — Gabriel, Isabel, Dave, and Matt — first met nearly 10 years ago on the nascent iOS team at Rent the Runway, charged with designing and developing the company’s first ever mobile app. We each had some prior experience with mobile, but it was our first taste of working on a cross-functional team with a full complement of (multiple) engineers, a product manager, design, and QA. We quickly “clicked” and became a close-knit group entrusted with a ton of independence to steer product strategy and build something we believed in.
The app was a huge success, and it quickly became the company’s flagship platform — both from a user perspective and, crucially, from a business standpoint too. The opportunity that the app presented, along with the exploding popularity of mobile e-commerce in general, meant that there soon had to be more players involved. And so, gradually, the friction and overhead that comes with mobile at scale crept up on us — juggling the contributions of more and more decentralized feature teams, tackling a larger roadmap, and aggressive release calendars, and scaling up resources to meet all of these new challenges.
Some of us eventually left for other mobile teams, but we kept encountering the same issues — particularly when it came to releases. Among the constants we observed: back-and-forths on Slack to get everyone on the same page around release time; disappearance of teammates into the void when it was their turn for release manager duties; and lots of unnecessary waiting around, missed deadlines, and buggy binaries. Looking back, it’s obvious that we were (individually and collectively) living through the growing pains of a mobile space that had found itself explosively evolving. What had been a casual side project for most companies became — seemingly overnight — a critical platform that demanded serious resources and planning and tooling.
Of course, knowing a pain point exists isn’t the same thing as solving it. Back then, the challenges were so new that a lot of our teams didn’t fully realize that the pain point existed, but even now that there’s more awareness, real solutions remain elusive. Too often, the terminal conclusion is: releasing a native mobile app built by a team is complicated and frustrating and difficult, and that’s just how it is.
Building the solution
Coordinating teammates is hard. Keeping up with little changes in Apple and Google’s submission tools and rules is annoying. Writing elaborate scripts, adding headcount, or even building entire in-house platforms are possible approaches to the problem space, but only if you want your engineering org to be in the release management business (at least part time). Scripts need to be maintained, knowledge gets siloed and lost, and every team-member-hour you dedicate to solving release management is a team-member-hour not going towards the stuff you’re releasing.
When we first started building Runway, our conviction came from the knowledge that we were building the tool that we wished we had on those old mobile teams of ours. That initial conviction remains strong, but it’s now augmented by a year of insights in the trenches with scores of other mobile teams. Our early adopters in particular have come to rely on Runway to make their releases less of an “event”, and continuously challenge us to expand and refine our vision.
We’re excited to now bring Runway to the wider mobile world, delivering that same impact and helping even more teams redirect their energy and resources away from releases, and back to where they belong — building great apps. We can’t wait to see more teams grow alongside and level-up with Runway, and we’re humbled to have the opportunity to learn from everyone’s experiences and build those lessons into the future of the platform. If you’re already with us, our genuine thanks, and if you’re just joining us, welcome onboard!
Gabriel, Isabel, Dave, Matt, Ale - The Runway team