Specify raises €4M seed round to build the first Design Data Platform

· 7 min read

We’re excited to announce our €4M seed funding round, led by Eurazeo alongside our historical investors BPI F3A, 360 Capital, and Seedcamp. We’re also glad to have Clément Vouillon, co-founder of MemoHub, and Didier Forest, Creative Partner at eFounders, as angel investors on this round.

We raised this round to help organizations manage their brand identity at scale by offering the industry's first Design Data Platform.

And, psst, we’re live on Product Hunt today! 😻

Our story

Who we are

Louis, Antoine, Pierre-Antoine, and I, Valentin, created Specify more than three years ago, in 2018. We met each other during our studies, in 2014, in a school called HETIC near Paris.

Early reflections on Specify — Montreuil, France (2017)

We were already passionate about the Internet, web design and development, and always looking for best practices used in the industry. It was the rise of Atomic Design, the arrival of Sketch in our lives, and all the collaborative tools associated with it.

We were frustrated with how digital products were created and maintained with our respective backgrounds as front-end developers, software engineers, product managers, and product designers.

And we weren’t the only ones.

In 2017, we started digging into the topic and interviewed dozens of teams. Sometimes, the term Design Systems came up, and sometimes not. But it didn't matter: maintaining interfaces with the brand language in mind had become a common issue.

It was the last green light we were waiting for to start our journey finally.

The rise of digital products

Digital has evolved so much in recent years that organizations now face challenges not only in the speed of digital product development but also in brand experience consistency. For small organizations, it's about iterating quickly. For larger organizations, it's about maintaining a consistent brand experience across their products and platforms, varying from a simple website, a SaaS application, or even mobile/tablet/watch applications.

Organizations need to adapt to the increasing complexity of building and maintaining digital products while offering users a delightful experience. That is why product teams are scaling up to follow the pace. The number of designers and developers has never been higher.

Maintaining a brand identity across different products on various platforms is now a daily job for organizations: agencies, SMBs, enterprises, governments, or even associations.

No wonder teams have been looking for ways to be more efficient when collaborating to build and maintain digital products. A large part of this equation is about people. But the remaining part can be solved by tools.

The future of design systems

The good news is that product tools have never been more advanced and ready to be connected to each other. We believe the world is now ready for a new chapter in collaboration, and not only between people but with tools for improved interoperability.

A few talented people have written about this. Tanner Christensen shared his vision about the future of design system tools while Matthew Ström described Design APIs as the future of design systems.

"There’s no doubt the future of design systems is tool-agnostic."

Tanner Christensen (ex lead product designer at Lyft, Atlassian and Facebook)

All of them had in common the idea of a central and tool-agnostic place, unifying the design data of an organization and enabling a fully networked design system.

Specify is precisely designed with this idea: help an organization's branding navigate freely from one place to another automatically.

Meet Specify, the world’s first Design Data Platform

Specify is a Design API connecting design system tools to help organizations secure their branding in an external source of truth accessible by every employee (or team member).

Specify is a central and tool-agnostic platform. It means you can integrate your daily applications to collect, store and distribute your design decisions to the right teams, in the right format, at the right time. To sum things up, see Specify as the synchronization layer for your design data at the heart of your design system.

Imagine being able to press a single button and spread a new color everywhere on your web, iOS, and Android applications.

Designers, connect your favorite design tool, like Figma, and let Specify monitor and collect your design decisions automatically. This way, you control what is sent to developers and reduce the risk of inconsistencies.

Developers, configure tailored transformation pipelines for every project and get design tokens and assets from wherever you want. Either by using a CLI or by getting automated GitHub Pull Requests.

Teams can benefit from a single source of truth and a continuous delivery system that ensures brand consistency.

In short, you have more time to focus on what matters most: your products and your end-users.

What's next

We’re aware that tackling the branding market is a vast topic. That's why we start by managing branding internally, on products, targeting designers and developers.

This fundraising will allow us to strengthen the basis of our strategy.

For you, this means that 2022 will be the era of CI/CD for your branding and interface design, whether you're a small team that wants to iterate quickly or a large organization that wants to keep its branding consistent.

Building your dream Design Data Platform

We will focus first on strengthening our platform and providing you with the most delightful experience possible. Secondly, we'll add new features and improve existing ones following future feedback from our community.

We genuinely care about your feedback. Feel free to look at our community portal to give feedback and have a glimpse of our future roadmap.

Expanding our integration catalog

Before opening the platform to more users, we want to deepen your experience and offer integrations to document your design decisions and store your assets.

Many teams have been using Notion to document their design system and Google Drive to store their assets. That is why they will be the following integrations we'll be working on.

Improving the Designer Experience

Each team being different, we’ll give even more control on the design data you synchronize into Specify. Designers, be ready to have more control over the naming of your tokens. You will be able to enrich your data, tag your tokens and even filter out the tokens you don’t want to be synced. And all of that will be as easy as pie.

Providing a seamless Developer Experience

We believe developers must have total control of the code generated by Specify and synchronized in their projects. That's what our open-source parsers are here for. But with great power comes great responsibility. For this reason, we'll work on making your life easier by giving you a whole new experience in creating your configuration files. We're also working on a new environment to ease the creation of a new parser for you and the entire community.

Growing our community

Today, we're excited to open up Specify even more. Whether you've been following our journey since the beginning or are just discovering us, you're part of our community, and we're excited about it.

We want everyone in our community to be part of our adventure. Therefore, we're creating an ecosystem of support where you can participate in improving our product and help each other in your design tokens' journey. We can't wait to tell you more about this.

Continue to adapt our product with the DTCG standards

As you know, we are opening a new world where tools can finally communicate with each other. We are delighted to be part of the DTCG and participate in developing W3C standards for design tokens. We will continue to help the design system community as much as possible and implement these future standards inside Specify.

Thank you!

Many of you have followed us since the story's beginning, and Specify would never have been possible without you. Thank you for believing in us, for helping us shape our product, and for spreading the word. That is just the beginning.

We are incredibly grateful to our team, who work with passion and kindness every day.

We plan to triple our headcount and be around 20 people with this fundraising. We are a remote-first company based in Paris, and we are looking for talent. Please take a look at our open positions and join us!

Your brand.
Your products.
Always in sync.

Meet the design data platform you ever dreamt of.

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