Sramana Mitra: What was the productization? What was the revenue level as a services company before you started productization?
Jake Weaver: As a services company, we had just over $4 million in revenue when the change started to happen. We had stepped into the product market, but we had made a smaller business solution.
That was a lesson learned for us. That was not the market we should have been playing in. All of our clients, in the beginning, were these behemoth names. We went to a lower market where we didn’t fit as well. It gave us our first glimpse into productization.
We made a product called Intranet. We named it for what it was. Eventually, we realized that we wanted to be firmly back in the enterprise space and made a product called Intranet Pro that we’ve kept to this day. Intranet Pro is our enterprise class offering for a SharePoint-based enterprise intranet.
Sramana Mitra: When did you bring that to market?
Jake Weaver: The first one came sometime 2017. Cox Communications was the first one to go live with it.
Sramana Mitra: Cox was already a client of this service?
Jake Weaver: No.
Sramana Mitra: So this is what helped you win Cox?
Jake Weaver: Yes. The story of why the products won the market is they had a failed implementation of trying to build it in the custom route. We would look at it as a way to put more of a guarantee for success.
That is one of the big problems in our space. You launch a major intranet like that at a company, and there is a super high risk of failure in the old way things are done. We were seen as a less risky option.
Sramana Mitra: How did the product business build up?
Jake Weaver: It was hard. If anybody that reads this wants to learn lessons in the wrong way to do things, I have definitely done it over time.
Sramana Mitra: What do you consider as the wrong way of doing things?
Jake Weaver: If you’re going to switch over your business model to something that is different than what you do today, you also have to think about the team that is doing that. The people that I consulted didn’t have a frame of reference for what a product company is.
When you work an hour and bill an hour, that can be different from productization where you’re focused on efficiency and bugless code. Some of the decisions you make today have big impacts three years down the road.
If you’re ever going to switch your business model, look at your team and understand if that team might have to change very early on instead of slowly over time. That was one huge lesson.
Two is, understand the financial impact of what you’re trying to do. It’s very hard to switch a business model and keep the revenue flowing in. I’ve never had funding here. Every bit of this has been built on what I’ve put in. It put a huge financial burden on the company.
Treat a product like a product. Make sure you have amazing customer service that comes along with it. Make sure it’s easy for people to use and understand. I’m speaking from a weird vantage point of coming from a consulting company to a product company. We didn’t have things like that. We would do these projects and we would train people on them and then go on to the next one.