Sketch, which makes popular digital design tools for Mac and states that 1 million people paid $ 99 for a perpetual license, raises $ 20 million from Series A during its first round on the outside

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You've probably noticed: design has become a central element for many companies that could have considered it an afterthought. Indeed, with sales and marketing optimized at this point – and companies wondering how to overcome the competition – many startups are looking to become the salesforce of design.

InVision is one of them. Just three months ago, the start of the design collaboration generated $ 115 million in Series F financing worth $ 1.9 billion. More recently, Figma, another design actor, has allocated $ 40 million in Series C funding to a round that brings its total funding to $ 82.9 million and its valuation to $ 440 million.

However, if venture capital firm Benchmark succeeds, Sketch, a seven-year-old European company with 42 employees, will win this race. Benchmark jumped at the chance to support the founders of Sketch, Emanuel Sá and Pieter Omvlee, when they contacted the company, said Chetan Puttagunta, Benchmark's latest general partner. "We certainly knew Sketch, and once we took a look at the company, we were blown away. There is so much potential of what it could be that things have evolved quickly. There was not a lot of negotiation. We were like, "What do you want to do, guys?" Let's do it. "

Sketch, which has a fully-staffed workforce, designers and other employees based in Europe and the United States, has been profitable from the beginning. One million people have already paid $ 99 for a perpetual license (with one year of free license). updates).

Just as impressive: these sales are entirely organic and come directly from the Sketch site. Although his design tools were previously available in the Mac App Store – Apple has already awarded him a design award and he is consistently leading the list of Mac App Store – Sketch is separate from the company in 2015, especially because of Apple's guidelines relating to the definition of a Mac application. can and can not do, and the time required for Apple to approve the application updates.

Benchmark – who does not share the valuation after Sketch's money nor the company's $ 20 million stake in the venture capital firm – also plans a future in which Sketch will go beyond its roots as a prototyping tool for highly experienced and novice designers. their experience without the help of coders. The idea is to become a tool for teams of all sizes to come together. In other words, like InVision and Figma (as well as Adobe and Autodesk), Sketch is now attacking the company.

In fact, Sketch is already planning major upgrades that will be available this summer, as we reported yesterday Sá and Omvlee, in their respective offices in Portugal and the Netherlands. Team collaboration, through a tool called Sketch for Teams, is one of the major offerings that builds on its existing cloud offering. As both of us say, Sketch wants to be where all the documents are and allow teams to make annotations and comments in the application.

Sketch also brings its tools to the browser as of the end of the year so that users can render an entire document, add the developer transfer and allow editing as well as collaboration, all without having to leave the browser.

All of these features will be available to anyone who downloads Sketch. In other words, then, like now, everyone has the same functionality. Puttagunta said that it was a possibility, but that there was no intention of falsifying anything for the moment. Different modules, different charges – that's all the speculation at this point. "

Sá and Omvlee echo this by telling us frankly that there is still much to be done. "We need to define a strategy," says Sá. "Until now, we have focused on product development, but when the time comes, we will discuss [more of these business particulars] with Benchmark and the rest of the team and propose the best solution. "

According to Omvlee, what will not change is the creation of a product that users love so much that they talk to others about it. "Our goal has always been to make design accessible to just about everyone, and then move away from it."

Top left to right: Emanuel Sá and Pieter Omvlee, founders of Sketch.