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As a startup growing in product maturity, Firstbase adopted Productboard to have a single source of truth spanning discovery through delivery. Now, the one-stop-shop for remote workplace equipment management is seeing these big wins:
Head of Product Marketing Justin Li was happy to share the journey.
Asked to tell Firstbase’s origin story, Justin’s answer makes clear why customer-centricity runs so deep at the company.
“Our CEO was traveling a lot for work before Firstbase, and he missed out on a lot of moments with his young daughter, her first laugh and her first walk, and he realized: this shouldn’t be. People shouldn’t have to miss out on those memories.”
Firstbase is on a mission to make sure no one else has to; the startup offers a platform that helps hybrid and remote companies manage the entire remote work equipment lifecycle from onboarding through offboarding.
Yet, as Firstbase started defining the stages of its lifecycle and growing in maturity as a fully remote product organization, leadership realized quickly: Product needed a comprehensive platform of its own.
Justin shares why Firstbase’s tech stack wasn’t meeting the mark for product management — and how the company now delivers quickly and collaboratively on its customer-centric mission.
Despite the best intentions to consistently identify and build what their customers needed most, Firstbase’s teams were missing value-driving opportunities and losing time organizing their work. The problem: relying on disconnected tools from discovery through delivery, Justin says.
1. Aggregating feedback in a Jira board and linking to features proved too manual
In its early days, Firstbase leveraged a Jira board to collect and categorize requests customers shared with Sales and Customer Success teams. Unfortunately, teams felt the tool cost more time than it added value for the challenge at hand.
“It was pretty manual, and there wasn’t really an easy way to vote on things that were on the ask board, let alone to look back and tie them to features,” Justin explains.
2. Customers asked for more roadmap visibility; current tools fell short on sharing
Additionally, as Firstbase successfully positioned itself to customers as a company that cared deeply to keep learning about their needs and delivering effective solutions, more and more of its user base was excited to get a glimpse of the future.
“A lot of customers had been asking for our roadmap and wanted to know what we were building,” Justin says. Yet, Firstbase didn’t have an easy way to offer external visibility into Product’s next steps.
3. Product started to outgrow collaboration tools for roadmapping and planning
After all, in the realm of roadmapping, Firstbase was quickly outgrowing its early systems. Over time, teams longed for a more effective way to visualize the entire product lifecycle and infuse every decision with customer data.
“When we were at an early point where we hadn’t defined the lifecycle yet, we were building and building and it was about whatever we could get out the door. But, as we grew and scaled, we decided to put in processes to really get organized. Notion was where we had a lot of roadmaps and listed out company initiatives that were going on, but the issue was that it’s really more a wiki tool, a great wiki collaboration tool — not one geared toward roadmapping, prioritizing, and planning.”
Firstbase began its search for a comprehensive platform, one that could help its remote teams easily structure and share their customer-centric product strategy.
Luckily, Justin already had a system in mind.
“The funny thing was, I had worked at Unqork, which is also a Productboard customer,” Justin says. “When we onboarded Productboard there, I was involved in implementation and saw how valuable the tool was, adding structure to roadmapping, prioritization, and portfolio planning.”
He shared that glowing review with Firstbase leaders, and his story proved persuasive.
Product leaders connected with the Productboard team and were struck by the possibility of:
“Feedback was huge — one big reason Firstbase went with Productboard was because of Insights,” Justin says.
“The ability to easily capture feedback from across channels with Productboard and its integrations with tools like Gong made us feel confident we could consistently prioritize what our customers really needed, their Jobs to be Done, which is the framework we always keep in mind when we build products.”
From there, Justin says Firstbase was drawn to the possibility of adding transparency across its product lifecycle by clearly representing the different phases with an intuitive interface.
“What we also found so easy about Productboard was that each stage of the lifecycle can be mapped to a view in the platform, which to us was really powerful,” Justin explains.
“That way, we could give much more visibility to the company (and our customers) into what’s being built,” he explains. “It also allowed me to define what was needed for each launch, a huge success for the impact of our messaging.”
Best of all, Justin says leaders were convinced Productboard could serve as Firstbase’s missing link, system-wise, between discovery and delivery.
“Product leadership realized it was a lot easier to have Productboard as the single source of product truth for discovery, prioritization, and roadmap planning, and then to have Jira on the engineering side for stories and epics — the execution piece. Then, we made sure the systems would talk by having the integration set up to push information between them.”
Still, Firstbase was searching for more than just a comprehensive platform. Determined to strengthen and more effectively organize the company’s approach to product management, leaders decided to invest in time with Productboard’s Professional Services team.
Justin doesn’t mince words about the solutions architect who led Firstbase’s implementation: “Mike Daniel is amazing — hands down, he was one of the best Customer Success onboarding partners I’ve ever worked with.” Here’s why.
“It was such a collaborative process from the very beginning working with Pro Services. Productboard really was a thought partner to our Product team, helping us create the strategy and skeleton of our overall product lifecycle and suggesting different views for each part of the process. Mike was very flexible as a partner because he showed us examples of how other companies are building processes and the results they’re seeing, but still tailored our sessions to what would be best for us.”
With Productboard as their single source of product truth, teams at Firstbase now reap the benefits of better visibility and more effective collaboration across the product lifecycle, strengthening customer relationships and delivering value faster to their user base.
Justin says having shared access to a real-time roadmap has been invaluable for Firstbase’s fully remote staff. These days, they’re spared the time suck of searching multiple systems and can strengthen their product strategy with a holistic view of data pouring in.
“Now, we have an internal roadmap everyone has access to, and people are constantly giving updates relevant to the different boards, which are used in leadership meetings and weekly prioritization discussions,” Justin says.
As remote team members working in different time zones are able to start their days with a real-time view of customer feedback or roadmap changes, the group meetings that do land during someone’s dinner hour or early morning are now highly strategic in nature.
Justin explains: “we’re able to use Productboard as a tool to drive a more impactful discussion when we meet.”
Firstbase’s customer-facing teams also appreciate how easy it is to get valuable user feedback in front of Product.
“With our Gong integration, any part of a product feedback call can be easily sent as a snippet and pushed into Insights for Product to review,” Justin says.
Using a comprehensive platform, Firstbase has even been able to mix a bit of democracy into its data-driven prioritization process. “Teams can even vote on things,” Justin adds, “since we have integrations with Zendesk and Slack, making Productboard the hub of all customer feedback coming in, feedback we use for prioritization, roadmapping, and release planning.”
Firstbase also plans to leverage Productboard’s Portal to give its customers a window into what’s coming up on the roadmap.
As Justin puts it: “we love how there’s now this full customer feedback loop, living and breathing in Productboard.”
Lastly, Justin describes Productboard as a genuine “game changer” in the realm of product marketing.
Now that he can see what’s coming down the lifecycle, Justin is able to collaborate seamlessly with other stakeholders on messaging and more. He built specific views within Productboard to note which features are ready for launch vs. still in development, assigning tasks and owners to every aspect of a release.
“I’m a very product-first marketer, so I believe product marketing should be embedded across the entire lifecycle, influencing messaging and positioning. That’s why I’m such a big Productboard advocate because I can participate in discovery, speak to customers from the definition phase to the build phase, and create more of a story behind the features now that I can see what’s coming.”
Justin says at many companies, “Product builds something, throws it over the fence, and asks Marketing to make a splash.” With Productboard, his team has the chance to be proactive rather than reactive.
The big winners: Firstbase customers, who can now easily appreciate the value of what’s being built (and why) to solve their day-to-day challenges.
“Productboard has been a differentiator for us when it comes to innovation and customer feedback, a huge advantage,” Justin says.
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