MaestroQA CEO Vasu Prathipati discusses the eight-year journey to Series A
It’s been eight years since the Eniac portfolio company now known as MaestroQA was founded. The journey is far from over, but founders Vasu Prathipati and Harrison Hunter have hit a major milestone, raising a $25 million Series A.
We’re proud to have played a small role in MaestroQA’s success, having incubated the startup and invested, starting with its seed round (Anthony even wrote about the funding when he was still at TechCrunch). To hear more about that shared history and the lessons learned along the way, we jumped onto Zoom with Vasu and Eniac co-founder Nihal Mehta.
Vasu recalled that his first interaction with Nihal and the Eniac team was not focused on a potential investment. Instead, he worked as Nihal’s assistant: “I would walk Nihal’s dog Stan and pick up Stan’s dog poop and build the couches in their first Eniac office.” But as he worked, Vasu would also share details about the startup he was working on, which was originally called AdTrib. And ultimately, Nihal was the one who brought up the possibility of an Eniac investment.
“I did not have any of the confidence back then to ask for money or raise money but [Nihal] saw something in us before Harrison and I saw something in ourselves,” Vasu said.
Both Vasu and Nihal spoke candidly about some of the struggles that MaestroQA has faced. It took several years and multiple iterations before the company found product-market fit, pivoting from ad attribution to a broader marketing platform to, ultimately, providing quality assurance for customer service teams.
In fact, Nihal described getting a not-exactly-impressive demo of an earlier Maestro product with Eniac co-founder Hadley Harris.
“We would just stare at it and not say anything,” Nihal recalled.
Vasu said he got the message loud and clear: “[The product] was just so complicated to explain.” And he was grateful for some of the tough questions that investors were willing to ask, because it helped to push him and his team until they found the right direction. Recalling advice from another of his investors, SaaStr’s Jason Lemkin, Vasu said the key moment was when MaestroQA managed to attract 10 paying, unaffiliated customers.
“We knew we were onto something then,” he said. And in the meantime, he wasn’t going to get discouraged: “There was nothing [investors] could tell me — like, I had the money. I wasn’t going to give it back or stop or quit.”
You can watch a video with more highlights of our conversation above.