Matt Allison on value realization, blocking distractions, and what PMs should consider in a new gig
Product State Q&A
Matt Allison is Founder/CEO at Handraise, a Value Realization SaaS company. Prior to Handraise, Matt was the Founding CEO of TrendKite, a PR analytics SaaS company that sold to Cision (NYSE:CISN at the time) in 2019.
www.handraise.com | LinkedIn
EC: What’s it like building a startup in this environment versus when you’ve built companies and products in the past?
MA: For me, I've always blocked out what's going on in the outside world when building companies/products. At the end of the day, I still need to go through the same process of a bunch of customer discovery to uncover the largest pain points for my customers and work to elegantly solve those problems with a solution.
My advice to founders and product leaders is always to focus on your own work and the problems you are solving for your customers and make sure you are delivering as much value as possible. There are always winners and losers in every environment, including economic downturns and economic prosperity - in both cases we should all do the same thing - deliver value to customers who have a problem and are willing to spend money to fix it.
If you focus on value delivery, you will have a healthy business and will optimize your chances of raising capital, hiring the best talent, and growing quickly.
EC: How do you divide your time and attention when thinking about product, sales, marketing, operations, etc.?
MA: I am pre-seed stage, so right now it is all about product and getting my first users to use the product to see if I have effectively solved their problem. For me, at this stage, nothing in the future will matter if I have not done an excellent job here, so I try to block out all unnecessary distraction and spend.
My focus today is pretty much entirely customer discovery, product development, and more customer discovery to validate or disprove hypotheses around the business and to identify and eliminate early risk.
EC: For product leaders and PMs looking for their next gig, what are the things they should look for when joining a new company?
MA: For product leaders and PMs looking for their next gig, I highly recommend they look deeply at how the company they are considering joining thinks about and treats value realization. We are in an economic downturn right now, so companies that don't deliver the value they promise their customers in a sales cycle will ultimately have a really tough time surviving, breaking through, and growing.
I would also do a lot of soul searching to think about what stage company they want to join and look into the motives of the leadership and board of directors of the company they are joining. They should be acutely aware of the stage and health of the business, as well as the financial motivations of the people who own the majority of the business.
It is far better to find out in the hiring process — vs later — whether the objectives of the company align to the objectives of the product leader / product manager.
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