Tech Talks & Matcha: Product Strategy
We’re back for a second Q&A with our Head of Product, Gil Sommer! We sat down over a favorite Connatix drink – matcha – to do a deep dive into his team’s product organization. Gil describes the way we build technology akin to how an architect envisions a skyscraper. He takes all points of view into consideration – the advertiser, the end user and of course our publishers. Gil builds in the direction of where he envisions the market to head, not where the current status quo is set. Read on for a snapshot of Gil’s approach, and the guiding philosophies we hold dear at Connatix.
Q: What is your typical process when you begin to build new products?
A: We are building B2B2C products – which means who we sell to and who actually uses our products are not the same people. We start by first understanding what each group needs, and how those demands impact one another. Trade-offs are often necessary, and discussed until we reach a point where the end product will satisfy both groups. Then the fun begins – we sketch out two different versions of the end product, one that is more conservative, and one that is totally out-of-the-box. We then start to blend both of those versions, design our end product, and work in an agile way so we can quickly handle any roadblocks, and adjust our product in a way that still meets our goals.
Q: What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking to bring successful products to market?
A: There are a few things I would advise entrepreneurs: Speed, Change, and Flexibility. Bringing products to market quickly is critical, because the actual user feedback is the best compass to how the product needs to evolve. Embrace the unexpected ways customers will use your product – many times, users have a better sense of how to get the results they need. And lastly, prepare for the ‘known unknowns’ – build products that can pivot and that are adjustable to new market needs.
Q: What is special about your team at Connatix that helps you bring your ideas to life?
A: Our team is filled with people that have a “can-do” mentality. They find solutions, not problems. We have a very collaborative environment where all ideas are valid, and the team is not afraid of failure. This creates a very innovative culture, where we can test out new ideas and quickly bring unprecedented products to market.
Q: How would you suggest publishers build their content in order to thrive in this era of mobile-first environments?
A: Over the past few years, the focus has been on visual, video and interactivity. However, these elements should be treated similar to how a chef treats spices; when used in moderation, it enhances the experience. When overused, it takes over.
Q: What do you think is the largest challenge that publishers are facing?
There are many day-to-day issues, but the inherent challenge publishers are facing is how to balance a good user experience with the ability to keep a sustainable business model. Everyday, on the way back from work, I read multiple pieces of content from my favorite publishers. I like that this content is free, and I am sure most of users would agree with me. As a publisher-first company, one of the things that drives our innovation is helping publishers both delight their readers, and be profitable.