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Coralville-based Handrail raises funds and adds IBM VP of Design to Board of Directors

Handrail filed paperwork in early April with the SEC identifying $800k worth of commitments to a larger raise.

Handrail is a company that focuses on user experience research. The website boasts that the company provides an end-to-end collaborative research and insights platform.

Specific examples of how teams use Handrail include the ability to collaboratively plan, collect, analyze, and share user research. This means that the platform can help enterprise product teams organize and scale their research efforts via a SaaS platform.

Sean McKay, the company’s founder and CEO, recently wrote a blog article about “Vapor Research”. This blog post is revealing because it juxtaposes the idea of surface data (defined as quantitative data) versus deep data (real understanding of user motivations and goals). This explains how Handrail is attempting to help customers go deeper, beyond surface data to learn the “Why?” and apply research based insights to create better, more intuitive user experiences.

“Easy to use is no longer optional in the new Experience Economy and we believe that successful companies will now be defined by two things – the ability to continuously gain human understanding and integrate those insights into product decisions,” said Handrail Founder and CEO Sean McKay. “We’ve bootstrapped our product to date and decided the time was right for investment, given enterprise design and research organizations have begun to scale at an incredible rate.”

This has obviously excited investors as the company recently filed paperwork that the firm had raised $800k. This raise was provided by undisclosed investors.

Handrail announced today that Doug Powell, Vice President of Design at IBM, has joined founder Sean McKay on the Handrail Board of Directors, effective May 10, 2019.

Doug Powell is a design leader currently responsible for integrating and scaling IBM’s design thinking practice across the company’s global network of design studios and more than 2,000 formally-trained designers. Throughout his career as a designer, entrepreneur, and industry leader, Doug has successfully built and scaled effective organizations based on thoughtful and effective design and research practices.

“I am honored to serve on the Handrail Board of Directors,” said Powell in a press release. “Handrail is a critical component that will enable design and user research organizations to work with more efficiency and agility. As design organizations mature at the enterprise level, they need to find new ways to scale their operations; Handrail makes that happen.”

Handrail is part of a growing number of early stage customers in the broader Cedar Rapids and Iowa City region. With companies such as Higher Learning Technologies, medical companies such as IDx and Corvida Medical, and multiple research-based startups including Swine Tech, the corridor is starting to really buzz.

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