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Bootstrapping from New Zealand, Scaling in America: Jason Westland, CEO of ProjectManager.com (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, May 6th 2016

Jason Westland: We’ve been able to retain our vertical market there. Our nearest competitor is Clarizen. They have a Gantt. It’s technically just a read-only Gantt chart. It does work for small projects but the account size is very limited in Clarizen because of the inability to handle large volumes. The way I think about the competition in project management is that you have three levels with an emerging fourth. If you can imagine a triangle, at the bottom of the triangle is task management. You’re just managing a tasks list.

In that space, Base Camp has always cleaned up. They’re very simple. They were the first to market. They do a great job there. The definition of a project is it has an end date. Then you have to manage according to that end data. In which case, you need to plan. If it’s going to have a plan, you need a Gantt chart. If you’re going to have a Gantt chart, it’s going to rival Microsoft Project. That’s that next tier which is the formal project management tier. In that tier, you got to have a Gantt chart that’s going to work well. There are very few players in that space.

If you can imagine, the triangle is very wide at the bottom and very narrow at the top. In task management, there are thousands of players. In the project management space, there are only a very small handful of players. Smartsheet is just entering that space. Then you’ve got project and portfolio management at the top. Workfront and Planview are two successful companies there. In our little vertical slice in the middle, there aren’t too many players. NASA recently did a strategic project across the organization to choose the provider of choice for the next three years. They went out and reviewed thousands of applications in the entire triangle. They decided to run with us for another three years.

Sramana Mitra: Fantastic.

Jason Westland: It just goes to show that we’ve retained that unique value proposition.

Sramana Mitra: You have an interesting differentiation that is understood by the project management community.

Are you still fully based in New Zealand?

Jason Westland: No. In 2014, I decided to take the business to another level. What I decided to do was to appoint a formal Board of Directors. We’re lucky to have Guy Haddleton. He is the founder of Anaplan that is based in San Francisco. I appointed the Board and I also took a $4 million funding round.

Sramana Mitra: From whom?

Jason Westland: That’s from Zeus Capital. They’re a small number of private investors in New Zealand. Even though we were highly profitable, we were running it with just over 50% profits. I wanted to scale faster. I also wanted to establish a US presence. We now have an office with 10 people here based in Austin, Texas. I live here permanently now.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Bootstrapping from New Zealand, Scaling in America: Jason Westland, CEO of ProjectManager.com
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