The Breakout Growth Podcast

Launching a New Category is Hard: Lessons from Productboard’s Journey to Breakout Growth

Launching a New Category is Hard: Lessons from Productboard’s Journey to Breakout Growth
The Breakout Growth Podcast
Launching a New Category is Hard: Lessons from Productboard’s Journey to Breakout Growth

With a product management system that helps organizations get the right products to market, faster, by centralizing feedback and making insights from customers available all in one place, Hubert Palan, Founder and CEO of Productboard has created a new category. 


The idea of a blue ocean awaiting a unique invention always sounds exciting, but in this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, we learn that in reality, building sustainable growth when everything is new and direct competitors do not yet exist, also comes with tremendous challenges.


Sean interviews Hubert at an interesting time as the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformations around the world. Companies like Zoom, serving established markets, quickly capitalize on new demand, but for Productboard the problems they solve are less understood. Therefore, growth has required a constant effort to build problem awareness while expanding the solution to meet changing market needs. 


We trace the company’s journey from its initial bottoms-up focus on emerging startups and SMBs to robust top-down solutions that now also include mid-market and enterprise businesses. We find out how the team has grown to hundreds of employees and evolved to serve over 3000 customers with both self-service and high-touch sales systems and why Hubert sees a whole-market strategy as the right approach to meet the needs of the market and defend against competition. 


For anyone focused on driving growth, this interview includes valuable learnings about the importance of authenticity in creating value for end-users. Hubert says, “The reason why we exist is to make a world where every product is extraordinary and exceptional,” and it is clear this mission has informed the culture and mindset behind Productboard’s breakout growth. 


Take a listen, this is one of our favorites . . .


We discussed: 

* The company’s journey from serving the needs of small startups to a client roster of more than 3000 companies including Marriot, ZenDesk, Disney+, and more (2:18)


* How the business model works from self-service options for SMBs to high-touch sales-driven approaches for mid-market and enterprise clients (4:10)


* The recently launched free customer feedback portal that closes the loop between product management teams and customers and provides a viral loop to accelerate growth (5:49)


* Hubert’s journey as CEO, and how he applied lessons learned from his Berkeley MBA professor, Steve Blank, to build the business (9:22)


* Building the growth canvas for a blue ocean business model, and how iteration and prototyping helped solidify the vision (11:50)


* How raising $45 million just prior to the pandemic is helping grow the team to meet market demand (17:30)


* Why digital transformations are changing the potential market to include companies like Marriot, Sherwin-Williams, and Cartier, and why that was interesting for investors (21:56)


* The challenges and benefits of moving upmarket (28:40)


* Managing culture as the company has grown to serve multiple markets (31:50)


And much, much, more . . .

Brought to you by Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr of The Breakout Growth Podcast