Founder Stories
October 11, 2022

Meet Axel Thomson, Founder and CEO of Ribbon

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Concept Ventures were delighted to have met Axel back in late 2020 and subsequently led his pre-seed round alongside our friends at MMC Ventures. His laser-focused mission to bring better tooling to the world of User Research has continued to impress us and we're delighted to play a role in the company's journey.


Ribbon's overview of the User Research process

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I'm originally from Stockholm, Sweden, where I stayed until I moved over to London, UK in 2014 to study. I’ve grown very fond of the city, it’s hard to get bored in London.  

Where are you based today?

We're based in London, with an office near Old Street in east London. We're now a team of 8, and are growing quickly, so if you're interested in the problem we're solving and want to join an early-stage team, get in touch! 

Have you ever started a company before? (If not, what was your very first business idea?)

Ribbon is the first real company I've started, but I've always been drawn to building things. I started building websites and apps as a teenager, and have been building websites like simple JavaScript games and basic SaaS apps ever since. In university I tried my hand at building a company around an iOS rewards app that businesses could use to reward and incentivise customers.

Apple had just launched the Swift language and I wanted to give it a go, but the app never got very far.  

How would you describe Ribbon?

Sentence: We build user research tooling to help people make products that are more useful.

Paragraph: Ribbon is a user research platform that provides an all-in-one place for user and product research teams to do research and product discovery with their users. Ribbon's customers can run studies like video interviews and in-product surveys deployed to active users based on product interactions and user behaviours, enabling them to continuously undertake product research to validate product decisions and build better user experiences.

In-product user research
Example of Ribbons Survey Functionality


So you founded Ribbon in late 2020 - what was the 'aha' moment for you and how long had you planned to start this business?

At Ribbon, we try to help people build products that are more useful. The reason we care about this challenge comes from first-hand experience. Before starting Ribbon I was a product manager, and I experienced daily the difficulty of building confidence in product decisions. "How will our customers react to this product update?", "What problems should we solve for our customers?" and "How can we make sure this product launch is successful?" were questions our team would grapple with almost daily.

Specifically, it was incredibly hard to involve customers in the product design and shaping process without sacrificing the speed at which we could ship new updates. Either we slowed down to try to validate each decision in depth by speaking with customers, or we skipped customer validation to maintain our speed of shipping. This trade-off often resulted in failed product experiments and feature launches, and I thought there had to be a better way.

A company is an excellent vehicle for helping us solve this problem, as it allows us to work together as a team to build user research tooling that can help others apply what we've learnt to their own user research and discovery. So starting a company was more of a means to an end than the end itself.


What have you learnt about your industry that may surprise others?

I continue to be surprised by how collaborative and willing to experiment with new practices people within the UXR field are. Most people we speak to are user researchers or product builders themselves, and they are deeply curious about their customers' needs and desires and how they can improve their discovery practices. In addition, they are often willing to share their knowledge and listen to others to help the field advance and improve their skills.


Where do you want to take Ribbon? What is your raison d'etre? 

We want it to be dead simple for people who build products to make sure that they build things that are useful to others. Using user insights to build great user experiences shouldn't have to be as hard as it is today. That's why we get up in the morning - the bigger we grow as a company, the more we can support researchers, designers and builders in doing great research and making customer-centric product decisions.

In-product surveys
Ribbon's Custom Research Functionality


Why will you win this market?

We fundamentally believe that the more we enable user researchers and product teams to do rapid and targeted research, the better decisions they can make and the better products they can build for their customers. So we're building Ribbon with this as a central thesis, which, we hope, results in research tooling user research teams love to use.

What sort of roles and people are you looking to join the Ribbon journey?

Three key traits are common in the people we ask to join our team: they're builders, explorers and generally empathetic towards others.

We look for people that are builders, be it of products, teams, communities, processes and more. At the heart of what we do is building research tooling for other people that build products and user experiences. So if you love building great software, teams and communities, then Ribbon might be a great place for you.

We also look for people that are explorers. The customers we work with are researchers themselves and embrace a mentality of continuous experimentation and learning. We try to embrace this mentality internally by acknowledging that we're unlikely to always be right and that we can learn quickly by working together on tough problems and focusing on being less wrong over time through experimentation.

Finally, we try to only ask people to join our team if we feel they have a high level of empathy. People who are empathetic make better user researchers as they can relate to the experience of others. Still, more importantly, we also want to work in an environment where people approach each other with empathy and have respect for each other. 

We're hiring for engineering and sales roles to help us continue to develop and grow our research platform. Head over to our careers page at to learn more.

Why should prospective employees come and work for Ribbon?

If you're also inspired by our purpose to help people make products more useful and want to do work that helps push the frontier of how products are built and user research is done, come and join us. We're a friendly team of builders, tinkerers, and researchers who love building great software, solving problems, and helping our customers do the same.

How come you chose to work with Concept?

Oliver and I connected early on in Ribbon's journey when all I had was a simple prototype for what is now the Ribbon platform. It was clear that they were as interested in the problem as I am and willing to make a bet that we could help other product builders do better research and make products that were more useful.


Where should any prospective customers/investors/employees learn more about you?

Learn more about how we help product teams do continuous in-product user research at We're more than happy to give you a tour of the platform and discuss how we can.


If you're interested in joining us on our journey towards helping product builders globally make products that are more useful, check out our open roles at