We think product managers deserve a product of their own (investors agree)
Index and Credo are investing in productboard’s vision to build the dream tool for product managers
What a time to be a product manager. This role has always promised no shortage of interesting challenges, and many of these are what makes the job worthwhile, like having the awesome responsibility of bridging the world of user needs and market opportunities with solution design and product delivery. But other challenges add needless stress and hassle to a role that is demanding enough as is.
Take the fact that for every PM in an organization there are typically tens of salespeople, support reps, and customer success specialists, not to mention hundreds, or thousands, of users, who are all eager to provide product feedback. Since all this feedback is directed toward the product manager, they become the bottleneck in the process of managing and processing more inputs than any one person can put to use.
Or how about the fact that for years, product managers have spent the bulk of their time split between a handful of tools owned by other verticals in the organization: the sales team’s CRM, the support team’s ticket desk, and the engineering team’s dev backlog. How is it that the product manager, a role unique enough to get its own title and set of responsibilities (i.e. decide what to build), does not have a tool of her own to manage the major decisions she has to make on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis? No — spreadsheets, powerpoints, and whiteboards don’t count.
These are the very questions productboard founder & CEO Hubert Palan sat asking himself three years ago as VP of Product at a Bay Area data analytics startup. His first instinct was to tackle the pain point of constantly updating and redesigning product roadmap presentations:
“I love UX design so every time I got home after 14 hours at my day job I would spend the rest of the night ideating about a product that would help me win my time back,” Hubert explained. “But the deeper I got the more I realized there was a much deeper question at hand — what should be on the roadmap in the first place?”
So Hubert, already a student of product management frameworks, began diving deeper into the science of product strategy, management, innovation, collaboration, and design. He talked to industry experts, professors at Berkeley and Stanford, and tore through every popular book on product management. His takeaway?
“I spent many years of my life pursuing a Masters in software engineering, working in business and technology, earning a Berkeley MBA, and serving as a head of product and still, so much of this was completely new to me. I realized how powerful it would be for a tool to offer product management best practices baked right into its interface.”
And so the idea of productboard morphed into sketches, and then prototypes, a private beta, and then a TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield contender. Ten months later, productboard is the product management system of record at over 150 companies. It has grown into a one-stop system of record product managers can rely on to understand what users really need, decide what to build, and rally colleagues and customers around their product visions.
“productboard has made it possible to collect and triage customer feedback, organize our roadmap and share progress with the entire company in a way that no other product can. It’s a member of our team that we can’t live without.” — Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design, Envoy
So when we consider the state of product management today, we’re optimistic. Product teams have no more patience for spending thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars building products that fail and features that go underutilized. Product leaders are demanding more visibility into the complex inputs that power prioritization decisions. And companies are looking to galvanize their employees by empowering them to contribute to the product prioritization process. Doing so not only supports product teams, who can now harness more information than ever before when making critical decisions, it also helps product leaders earn the buy-in and trust their carefully plotted roadmaps deserve.
Today, we’re pleased to announce we’ve found some investors who see things the same way. Index partners Jan Hammer and Ilya Fushman, having invested in visionary product companies like Slack, Intercom, Zendesk, and Optimizely, immediately recognized the opportunity we were after. As the former Head of Product at Dropbox, Ilya understood the immense pain quite personally. Ondrej Bartos at Credo Ventures together with Ondrej Fryc at Spread Capital have been instrumental in helping us scale our team across the Atlantic and beyond. Jakub Havrlant and Viktor Fischer at Rockaway Capital supported us from very early on.
Our vision is bold and we’ve made tremendous progress to date, but there is so much to get done. And product teams need better tools now. With this round of $1.3 million in seed funding co-led by Index Ventures and Credo Ventures with participation from Spread Capital, we’re ready to execute on our vision to make productboard one more reason it’s a great time to be a product manager.
Our thanks goes out to all of our friends at Index, Credo, Spread Capital, and Rockaway Capital for believing in our vision and supporting our team through every twist and turn.
We are also deeply appreciative of the guidance we’ve received from our earliest adopters, the customers who were the first to join our beta and are going strong in productboard today — productboard would be nowhere if innovators like you hadn’t seen its potential!
Finally, we couldn’t get here without the support of our close friends and loved ones, who were there for us when the going got tough.
Thank you all. Our exciting journey continues. See you out there!