SoftwarePundit's analyst team hand-tests hundreds of software products each year. Every January, we reflect on the prior year and recognize 10 truly exceptional companies that are delivering on all fronts – product strength, usability, customer support, market traction – and most importantly, empowering their hard-working SMB customers to achieve success. Companies are selected based upon their analyst rating, growth, and survey responses.
The companies below are at all stages of maturity – from less than 50 employees to almost 1,000. Together, they have raised over $400 million from the world's leading software investors. They share a track record of consistently leveraging these resources to build world-class software products. Companies in the 2021 SMB10 come from a wide range of sectors: course creation, dental, electronic signature, field service management, legal, mental health, property management, reputation management, and search marketing.
This year, we asked the companies to share insight into how the pandemic has affected their businesses and SMB customers. Read below to understand what each company does, the steps they took to support their customers throughout 2020, and why they earned their place in SoftwarePundit's 2021 SMB10.
What they do: Avail is a property management system used by over 200,000 landlords nationwide. Avail helps landlords with end-to-end management of properties through features including automatic listing syndication, automatic rent collection, tenant screening, and maintenance request tracking.
Business momentum: Avail has raised $9.7 million since being founded in 2012. In December of 2020, Avail was acquired by Realtor.com.
How they supported customers in 2020: "In 2020, Avail took the lead by conducting research to learn how our customers were impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and then used that information to provide additional resources to help landlords and renters navigate some of the challenges they faced," shared Nate Smoyer, Avail's Director of Marketing. "Through this work, Avail partnered with the Urban Institute to conduct further research on the 24 million rental units owned and managed by non-institutional, DIY landlords and the renters who live in them."
SoftwarePundit's take: Avail is the best property management tool for independent landlords. Its product offering is a lesson in customer-centricity. While DIY landlords often operate with tight budgets, they still need access to many of the same features as larger property managers. Avail's platform bundles the must-have features into an easy-to-use application that starts at $0 per unit. We're not surprised that over 200,000 landlords have chosen Avail as their go-to software.
What they do: Birdeye is a popular customer experience platform that businesses use to improve their online presence and attract new customers. The platform includes several tools that help SMBs reach and engage customers including business listing management, online review generation, two-way text messaging, customer surveys, and a mobile application.
Business momentum: Birdeye has raised $33 million since being founded in 2012. The company has scaled rapidly and now serves over 60,000 businesses of all sizes.
How they supported customers in 2020: In 2020, Birdeye launched its interaction product to help businesses stay connected, according to Birdeye's Director of Customer Marketing, Jennifer Campisi. "In April we accelerated our launch of Interactions and offered it free to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic," Campisi shared. "As business owners adjusted to stay-at-home orders and navigated the uncharted waters of running a company during a pandemic, communicating with customers became more important than ever. Interactions provides business owners the tools to communicate with customers the way they prefer, capture leads, earn sales, and ultimately achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction. Birdeye also launched Video Calls to make it easier for businesses to communicate remotely with their customers."
SoftwarePundit's take: Birdeye is like a powerful Swiss Army knife for customer marketing. Its platform has an extremely wide range of tools that drive customer acquisition, engagement, and retention. Small businesses would be hard-pressed to find another platform that offers as much value for the price. Birdeye is especially valuable for local businesses that can use listing management and customer reviews to increase their visibility in Google Search.
What they do: CareStack is an all-in-one, cloud-based dental practice management system that reduces the number of software subscriptions a small dental practice needs to operate. CareStack provides small and medium dental practices with the tools and firepower they need to compete with large dental groups. CareStack's dental software comes with HIPAA-compliant, integrated modules for patient engagement, scheduling, charting, claims & billing, and real-time business analytics.
Business momentum: CareStack has raised more than $50 million from Accel and other leading investors. It has over 2,000 dentists on its platform and more than 10,000 active users. While the beginning of 2020 was challenging, the company saw new client acquisition ramp up considerably in the fall.
How they supported customers in 2020: "When dental practices were closed for three months, we paused all subscription fees for our clients," shared CareStack's VP of Sales & Marketing, Jim Gerson. "There was no ask required on their part. We knew this was a challenging year like no other – our clients were tasked with compressing more work into a given day than was humanly possible once they re-opened."
SoftwarePundit's take: The dental industry has historically been dominated by established players that use brand awareness and existing relationships to maintain market share. Disrupting the incumbents requires a product that is head and shoulders above legacy solutions. CareStack has developed a well-designed, all-in-one practice management system that brings dental practices into the modern age. It combines core practice management features like charting and billing, with valuable patient engagement tools that allow dental practices to consolidate vendors and save costs. As a result, CareStack has quickly emerged as a leader in dental practice management software.
What they do: Clio is the world's leading provider of cloud-based legal software – providing lawyers with low-barrier, affordable solutions to manage and grow their firms more efficiently, more profitably, and with better client experiences. Its primary offering, Clio Suite, is an end-to-end software solution for law firms that combines practice management and CRM products. Law firms use practice management features such as case management, billing, and document management to streamline core operations. CRM features such as client intake, relationship management, and workflow automation empower law practices to strengthen client relationships and grow.
Business momentum: Clio has gained massive adoption with a user base of over 150,000 legal professionals in more than 100 countries. The company closed a $250 million investment from JMI and TVC in September of 2019.
How they supported customers in 2020: In 2020, Clio focused on helping its customers build a better normal, according to Clio PR & Social Media Specialist, Chloe Phillips. "We knew this was an unprecedented time that lawyers did not know how to navigate, so we took on the responsibility of understanding the impact that COVID-19 had on the legal world. We generated actionable insights that lawyers used to overcome challenges. Our research was updated monthly and made available for free. Clio also hosted monthly sessions with bar leaders across North America to share insights."
"When the pandemic escalated in March 2020, Clio launched its COVID-19 Legal Relief Initiative, committing $1 million in educational resources, free & discounted software, and direct financial assistance to help firms navigate the difficulties brought on by the pandemic," Phillips added. "Clio also offered its technology and expert consulting services free of charge to help legal professionals collaborate across newly remote workforces. Through this initiative, Clio provided financial assistance to over 1,000 law firms and additional resources for many more."
SoftwarePundit's take: The legal practice management space is crowded with legacy vendors and innovative disruptors. Over the past decade, Clio has emerged as the clear leader in the space and has tremendous momentum.
One major benefit of Clio is that it integrates with more third-party software than any other solution built for SMBs, and it's not even close. Additionally, Clio offers an open API for law firms that want to build custom integrations with the solution. This makes Clio the only viable software product for small-to-medium-sized law firms with complex technology stacks.
In addition, Clio packs all of the must-have features that lawyers need to effectively manage their practices into an easy-to-use platform. Clio has leveled the technology playing field for small-firm lawyers by providing software that is affordable, easy to implement, and secure.
What they do: Doctible is a cloud-based patient engagement platform used by thousands of dental and medical practices. Doctible's software makes it easier for practices to be discovered and selected by new patients, improves operational efficiency, and increases practice revenues by helping staff connect with, respond to, recall, and intake patients. Specific modules on the platform include a website chatbot, online scheduling, appointment reminders, email & text messaging, online forms, payment processing, online reviews, and patient recalls.
Business momentum: Since its founding in 2013, Doctible has raised $5 million. It now serves over 5,000 dental and medical practices. According to Doctible Co-Founder & CEO Ajit Viswanathan, "Doctible saw a two to three year jump in the adoption of patient communication tools in 2020. We are seeing an increasing number of medical practitioners and staff from multiple disciplines make the decision to transform and grow their practices using software. This trend has led to a 300% increase in the volume of messaging that is flowing through our systems in the last 12 months."
How they supported customers in 2020: "Doctible worked with all of its SMB clients so they could stay focused on the long-term viability of their practice and the health of their patients," Viswanathan shared. "This included a significant expansion of Doctible's award-winning support team. Significant billing relief was also provided to customers who were forced to temporarily close down their practices. Doctible also extended additional support, discounts and credits where needed, especially with dental practices that were initially deemed non-essential and had to shut down."
"COVID upended the workflow of practices upon reopening," Viswanathan added. "Many practices had to call patients to screen for symptoms, which added a significant administrative burden. To alleviate this burden, Doctible released its newest product – a Virtual Waiting Room that allows staff to visually manage patient arrivals and intake. The visualization of patient flow allowed our customers to recover significant staff time, while increasing patient safety and increasing visitation volume."
SoftwarePundit's take: The dental patient engagement market is crowded. There are legacy vendors with considerable market power and newer innovators that compete aggressively for dental practices' business. Doctible has built a modern solution that offers the full range of tools practices need at an affordable cost. Doctible's modular pricing structure simplifies the purchase decision for practices in an industry where many vendors operate with complex and opaque pricing models. With Doctible, practices can pay only for the software tools that they will actually use.
What they do: Jobber is a popular field service management (FSM) solution used by over 70,000 service businesses in 43 countries. This solution is used in several different industries including HVAC, cleaning, landscaping, plumbing, and tree care. Jobber helps businesses automate and optimize important tasks with features including online booking, quote management, scheduling, electronic payments, and invoicing.
Business momentum: Jobber has raised over $65 million from leading investors OMERS Ventures and Summit Partners. It's latest round of $60 million was raised in January 2021.
How they supported customers in 2020: In 2020, Jobber launched a COVID-19 resource hub on their main website. In addition, the company created a COVID-19 assistance program for clients during the first wave of the pandemic.
SoftwarePundit's take: We included Jobber in our SMB10 list because it is the best bang-for-your-buck solution for service businesses that are ready to make the jump from pen and paper. Starting at $29 per month, Jobber offers one of the most competitively-priced solutions on the market. However, Jobber's affordability does not come at the expense of the platform's functionality – it includes all of the features that you would expect in field service management software. As a result, the company has tremendous momentum, as evidenced by its significant funding round earlier this month.
What they do: LearnWorlds is a course creation software solution with approximately one thousand instructors. LearnWorlds helps its customers create profitable and enticing courses to sell online. The platform's primary features include a course and site builder, marketing tools, reporting, and integrations with software like Mailchimp, Shopify, and Zoom.
Business momentum: LearnWorlds is an earlier stage business that's gaining significant traction. It raised €1 million from Marathon Venture Capital in July 2019. According to Stella Mikraki, the Senior Growth Marketing Manager at LearnWorlds, the company grew more than 350% in 2020. "Q1 was the weakest quarter, as the effect of the pandemic emerged mostly from March onwards. Q2 and Q3 were the strongest due lockdowns and restricted travel," Mikraki added.
How they supported customers in 2020: At the beginning of the pandemic, LearnWorlds observed the demand for customers to teach courses using live stream video. The company quickly built a Zoom integration that allows LearnWorlds customers to offer live lessons.
SoftwarePundit's take: It's exciting to discover innovative software companies that are on their way to becoming industry leaders. We've interviewed dozens of course creators who recently made the leap from more established course creation software to LearnWorlds. The most common reason is the platform's approach to course and website design – LearnWorlds has the most flexible and powerful course builder and website builder tools. As one customer put it, in an industry full of hard-to-customize solutions, "LearnWorlds is like Android." Starting at $29 per month, LearnWorlds is also highly affordable compared to alternatives.
What they do: Semrush is the best all-in-one search tool for keyword research, competitive analysis, and rank tracking. Hundreds of thousands of marketers use its features to capture more online search traffic. The platform includes dozens of tools to support SEO, content marketing, market research, advertising, and social media marketing.
Business momentum: Semrush is a household name in the world of online marketing. Over 6 million marketers have used the platform since was launched in 2008. The demand for Semrush accelerated in 2020, as more marketers moved online. In 2018, Semrush has raised $40 million from Greycroft and other investors.
How they supported customers in 2020: In 2020, Semrush focused on offering numerous deals to SMBs. In addition, the company helped customers get more value for their money by adding new features to existing plans.
SoftwarePundit's take: For small business owners and online marketers, there are very few solutions that offer as much value as Semrush. The company initially gained traction with its keyword research and rank tracking tools. Over time, it's continued to broaden its platform to include solutions for competitive research, website audits, social media marketing, and business listings management. Once implemented, Semrush becomes an integral component of its customers' marketing operations. Digital marketers basically have two choices – subscribe to Semrush for $100 per month, or fly blind.
What they do: With over 45,000 customers and 20 million users, signNow is one of the most popular electronic signature software solutions. It helps SMBs digitize and automate their document creation and approval processes. Features like templates, flexible signing, and proficient document storage save signNow customers time and money.
Business momentum: signNow raised $2.5 million from Khosla Ventures and other investors before being acquired by Barracude Networks. It's now part of airSlate, which just raised a $40 million Series B from Morgan Stanley. signNow's business nearly doubled in 2020.
How they supported customers in 2020: Scott Owen, signNow's VP of Business Development & Channels told us that the team invested heavily in its channel partnership program in 2020. "We built one of the fastest and far reaching channel partnership programs in 2020," Owen said. "We wanted to make it simple for SMBs worldwide to purchase signNow."
SoftwarePundit's take: signNow is an excellent electronic signature software tool that is laser-focused on the SMB market. signNow's powerful, robust platform competes head-to-head with DocuSign, which lately has been focused more on the enterprise market. signNow’s features are packed into a user-friendly interface that starts at the affordable price of $20 per month. In a very crowded space, signNow stands out as an all-around leader that helps SMBs streamline operational efficiency.
What they do: SimplePractice, founded in 2012, helps practitioners in private practice with everything they need to establish, run, and market their practice. SimplePractice’s software helps them to succeed as entrepreneurs, with best-in-class tools that make telehealth, scheduling, billing, form intake, continuing education, and more all available on one elegant, HIPAA-compliant, and HITRUST-platform. Starting at $39 per month for a single practitioner, SimplePractice is a competitively priced, high-quality option for solo to medium-sized practices.
Business momentum: In 2020, SimplePractice's customer base grew from 50,000 to 75,000 practitioners, according to SimplePractice CEO Howard Spector. "While telehealth was a driver of some of those new customers, many also adopted our platform for the fully integrated and paperless solutions we offer," Spector said. "Adoption of our platform's telehealth has been exponential. Most surprising, however, is how many users of the feature plan to continue to do so going forward."
The statistics below on SimplePractice's telehealth product speak for themselves:
- Before March 2020, about 28% of SimplePractice customers used telehealth. Now, over 88% of their customers have used telehealth.
- SimplePractice started with 5 million telehealth minutes per month in January. Since March, there have been over 1,374 years of telehealth conducted on the platform.
- SimplePractice saw a 1000x increase in telehealth appointments from February to March of 2020 – this has steadily increased since.
How they supported customers in 2020: "While other companies were just starting to bring their products to market during the pandemic, we were expanding upon our already robust platform, including the telehealth feature we launched two years ago," Spector shared. "We were among the few existing telehealth players prepared in advance to support practitioners who were forced to migrate to the virtual office in response to the COVID-19 pandemic."
SoftwarePundit's take: We analyze dozens of markets each year. Once in a while, you find a market where the industry leader is truly head and shoulders above the competition in every way. In the health and wellness practice management space, SimplePractice is that company. SimplePractice's platform is both clean and powerful. It includes more features than any alternative, and is offered at a similar price. Recommending SimplePractice to healthcare practitioners is one of the simplest decisions we make on a regular basis.