Is Pendo for Startups Worth It for Early-Stage Companies? [+ Alternatives]

Is Pendo for Startups Worth It for Early-Stage Companies? [+ Alternatives] cover

What is Pendo for Startups?

This is the key question that the article explores. We look at the functionality it offers, its strengths and limitations, and a couple of alternatives that product managers of early-stage companies could use instead to drive growth.

Ready to dive in? Let’s do it!


What is Pendo for Startups?

Pendo is a product cloud company that offers one of the most popular digital adoption platforms out there. It’s probably best known for its analytics.

The company introduced Pendo for Startups in 2020. The idea behind it was to offer venture-backed startups (not private equity-funded startups) a tool whose functionality would enable them to achieve product-market fit sooner.

It’s very difficult to secure a new round of funding without PMF and that’s the key reason startups fail.

This plan is no longer available. Pendo has replaced it with two plans offering early-stage companies similar functionality: Free and Starter.

What can you do with Pendo for Startups new plans?

Pendo for Startups offered three core Pendo capabilities:

The two lowest Pendo plans, Free and Starter, offer functionality in all three areas, except for Pendo Sentiment which isn’t available in the Free plan.

Pendo Analytics

When it comes to Pendo analytics, both of the plans offer the same features. These are:

  • Retroactive data analytics – capturing product usage data from the moment you install it.
  • Unlimited page and feature tagging.
  • Behavioral analytics – including Retention, Paths, and Funnels for user journey analysis.

Neither of the two plans gives you access to:

  • Customizable reports (Data Explorer)
  • Product Engagement Score (PES) or NPS
  • Cross-app journey reports
  • Cross-app executive dashboards
Pendo plans for startups: analytics tools
Pendo plans for startups: analytics tools.

Pendo Sentiment (NPS, surveys)

The Pendo tool has a couple of ways to collect user feedback.

  • Sentiment (NPS, surveys)
  • Feedback – a standalone application with complex analytics features that requires a different subscription.
Pendo plans for startups: no NPS in the free plan
Pendo plans for startups: no NPS in the free plan.

Pendo Polls

To start with, you have Pendo Polls, which fall under Guides. They can help you create surveys that contain multiple-choice, yes/no, open-ended questions, and rating scale questions.

You can then use the results to segment your users for more in-depth analysis or for targeted messaging.

Pendo NPS

You can use also use Pendo to create NPS surveys.

This gives you insights into customer loyalty and breaks down your users into promoters, passives, and detractors. What’s more, you can deliver the surveys both in-app and via email.

However, the NPS functionality is not included in the free plan.

Pendo In-app Guides

Pendo Guides are the UX patterns that you can use to communicate with your users in-app. That’s what teams use for primary and secondary onboarding.

The types of patterns you can create with Pendo include:

All of them are available in both of the basic plans. The checklists and resource center features are not though.

To create basic Guides, you can use one of the templates. This doesn’t require any coding skills as Pendo’s Visual Design Studio supports a WYSIWYG editor. However, the customization is basic so you will need your devs to give them a native-like look.

Localization and accessibility features are included in the two plans which allow you to reach a wider user base and most importantly, they work both in web and mobile products.

You can trigger them individually or in sequences and target specific user segments. However, as Pendo displays analytics data with a delay, it’s difficult to fire them contextually, for example when users complete an event, so you have to schedule them in advance.

Pendo allows you to analyze the performance of your guides but the functionality is seriously limited in the Free & Starter plan. Experiments are not included either.

Pendo plans for startups: In-app Guides
Pendo plans for startups: In-app guides.

What are the pros and cons of using Pendo as a startup?

While Pendo is a powerful tool from one of the world’s leading software companies, it might not be the most suitable tool for startups.

Pros of using Pendo

  • Free demo and plan to help you evaluate the tool’s suitability for your use case.
  • Supports web and mobile apps.

Cons of using Pendo

  • Price is still on the higher end for startups.
  • Limited onboarding elements – for example, checklists can only be accessed from the resource center which defeats the purpose of having them in the first place (and that’s not included in the lower plans anyway).
  • User behavior data is displayed with a 1-hour delay.
  • Pendo sentiment is not offered in the free plan.
  • No integrations in the two lowest plans.

What do users say about Pendo?

Pendo customers give it an average rating of 4.4 , which is pretty solid.

Users value Pendo mostly for its intuitive interface, ease of set up, and code-free functionality:

For me, the best thing is that I don’t have to consume any dev resources when I want to find data and analytics. Working in a start up in growth mode, dev resource is precious, so the fact that I can simply open the Pendo Designer, and tag any features that I want to measure, is of great benefit. – Richard F.

Pendo Review
Pendo Review.

However, users mention Pendo pricing and limited Guides functionality as some of the drawbacks:

It’s a bit pricey, especially for start-ups. Regarding the Pendo guides: there is not a lot of freedom for creativity, so they don’t 100% match our product design. – M.H

Users also bring up the lack of pricing transparency and aggressive sales tactics as some of the areas for improvement:

Pendo is expensive and the larger you become, the more expensive the solution is for your organization. Our interaction with their sales team wasn’t my favorite and compared to a previous organization where we bought Pendo, rather aggressive. Their startup package only includes the resource center for one year and then they charge you for it. Lots of costs associated with other integrations (SalesForce, Zendesk, etc.) which is a barrier to entry for smaller startups who are very cost conscious. – Stephanie H.

Pendo Review
Pendo Review.

How much is Pendo for startups?

Pendo is not the cheapest product out there. For example, Pendo customers report paying $2000 for just the tour functionality!

The two Pendo for startups plans are:


  • Up to 500 monthly active users
  • Product Analytics
  • In-App Guides

The functionality offered in the Free plan may be enough to get a taste of what Pendo has to offer, but it’s definitely not enough to make informed product decisions.

Starter – from $7000/year

  • Up to 2,000 monthly active users
  • Product Analytics
  • In-App Guides
  • Sentiment (NPS, surveys)

The addition of the NPS feature and increasing the number of MAUs make this plan a bit more usable. However, it’s still not very competitive when compared to other similar products.

Pendo pricing
Pendo pricing.

Are there better alternatives for startups than Pendo?

If the pricing of the Starter plan seems excessive for the functionality it offers, there are a few solid options out there that you may want to consider instead of Pendo.

Let’s look at a couple of them: Userpilot and Appcues.

Userpilot vs Pendo for startups

Userpilot is a digital adoption platform. It enables startup product, marketing, and customer success managers to track product usage and user behavior, collect user feedback, and design onboarding experiences. Just like in Pendo, no coding is required.

Userpilot dashboard
Userpilot dashboard.

What advantages does Userpilot have over Pendo for startups?

  • It’s more affordable – the lowest Traction plan starts at $249/month.
  • Usepilot relays all the usage data in real-time which means you can use it to trigger contextual in-app guidance.
  • It offers more advanced segmentation for detailed analytics and personalized in-app messages.
  • You can build more interactive onboarding flows than Pendo Tours which are linear and tooltip-dependent.
  • You can trigger checklists anywhere in the product, not just from the resource center.
  • The resource center functionality is available in all plans.
  • NPS tools are included in all plans and allow you to tag and analyze qualitative responses.
  • A/B testing for in-app flows.
  • Integrations with Heap, Segment, and more.
  • It’s recommended for web applications.
Userpilot Chrome extension
Chrome extension in Userpilot.

Userpilot pricing

Userpilot’s transparent pricing ranges from $249/month on the entry-level end to an Enterprise tier for larger companies.

Furthermore, Userpilot’s entry-level plan includes access to all UI patterns and should include everything that most mid-market SaaS businesses need to get started.

userpilot pricing new april 2024
Userpilot has three paid plans to choose from:

  • Starter: The entry-level Starter plan starts at $249/month and includes features like segmentation, product analytics, reporting, user engagement, NPS feedback, and customization.
  • Growth: The Growth plan starts at $749/month and includes features like resource centers, advanced event-based triggers, unlimited feature tagging, AI-powered content localization, EU hosting options, and a dedicated customer success manager.
  • Enterprise: The Enterprise plan uses custom pricing and includes all the features from Starter + Growth plus custom roles/permissions, access to premium integrations, priority support, custom contract, SLA, SAML SSO, activity logs, security audit, and compliance (SOC 2/GDPR).

Userpilot reviews

The competitive pricing doesn’t mean any corner-cutting though. Userpilot’s functionality, user-friendly UI, and ease of use are recognized by G2 reviewers.

They praise Userpilot’s engagement functionality:

Amazing tool does all that we need! A must have for a startup!… I love how you can create user adoption nudges, popups, modals, all without code!

Userpilot review
Userpilot review.

Apart from the engagement layer, also the analytics, reliability, and quality of support are highly rated.

There are a few core reasons we’re fans of Userpilot:
1. At its core, it’s a well-designed product that is easy to grow quickly.
2. Great support and account management. We quickly reached someone and received detailed information to help us level up.
3. It does the job reliably! I’ve never encountered an issue with it bugging out in any way.
4. Pricing is unbeatable for capabilities in the space.

Userpilot review
Userpilot review.

Appcues vs Pendo for startups

Appcues is another product onboarding tool and a solid alternative to Pendo. Product and marketing teams use it mostly to analyze product usage, collect user feedback, enhance their user onboarding, and drive product adoption.

Appcues dashboard
Appcues dashboard.

Why is it better value for money than Pendo for startups?

Here are a few reasons:

  • Better in-app guidance features – 4 UX patterns + Pins vs Pendo’s 3.
  • All analytics features and NPS tools are included in the lowest plan.
  • Integrations with analytics tools (two-way integrations with Amplitude, Mixpanel, and Heap, as well as Kissmetrics and Fullstory).
  • A/B testing for onboarding flows.
  • Recommended for mobile applications.
Appcues NPS dashboard
NPS dashboard in Appcues.

Appcues pricing

Appcues offers three different plans: Essential, Growth, and Enterprise.

The lowest, Essential plan, starts at $249/month just like Userpilot’s Traction plan and it offers:

  • 3 user licenses
  • Standard pattern library, including NPS surveys and Pins
  • Unlimited Insights
  • 10 Track Events (click-to-track)
  • Send data to analytics tools
  • Email support

The functionality is fairly limited compared to what you get with Userpilot but is still more attractive than Pendo’s Starter plan.

Appcues pricing
Appcues pricing.

Appcues reviews

The product gets excellent reviews from its users as well.

G2 reviewers praise how easy it is to design in-app flows without the developer’s help. They also praise its user behavior analytics.

For the most part, Appcues is pretty easy to implement. Once installed, it takes no time to use their templates to create your first flow and publish it for customers. They’ve also just released a few features called click to track that now allows you to track clicks and hovers on anything on your site. This is super helpful if you’re trying to understand if the flow you created actually worked or not.

A glowing Appcues review
A glowing Appcues review.

Appcues has been an excellent tool for us here at Pixelz in communicating major feature announcements, facilitating customer onboardings, and analyzing user behavior on the platform.

Appcues review
Appcues review.


The rationale behind Pendo for startups was sound. It was meant to be a tool that helps digital product teams to analyze user behavior and collect feedback in order to make more informed decisions. This was to help them secure further funding.

However, the reality is that the lowest plans don’t offer enough functionality while being unaffordable for early-stage companies. There are products out there that outcompete it hands down.

If you want to see how Userpilot can drive the growth of your SaaS startup in its early days, book the demo!

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