5 key takeaways about building great products in the Now Economy
June 08, 2016
How is on-demand shifting the way companies service their customers? What does it mean to build products and processes that can deliver in minutes? How can companies make these models sustainable?
Recently, our founder and CEO, John Gabbert sat down with Jason Carlson, CTO and co-founder at Liquid Planner, Chad Wittman, VP of Product and co-founder at Dolly, and Angus Fan, Director of Product here at PitchBook, to discuss building companies and doing business in the Now Economy.
Here are five things we took away from their conversation.
1. The Now Economy is changing B2B as well as B2C
There’s more to the Now Economy than B2C giants like Uber and GrubHub. On-demand is changing the way businesses service businesses, too. The Now Economy “has a lot of implications for a lot of different industries,” Gabbert notes. “[It] really presents a great opportunity to find a better way to get products to customers.” Some sectors are already seeing this—companies like Wonolo, Bannerman, and Directly are bringing on-demand service to the B2B world.
2. Building great products for the Now Economy is a cycle
Jason Carlson, co-founder and CTO of LiquidPlanner, describes what it takes to develop a product for the Now Economy: “Getting in front of customers early and often, doing user research… finding out what it is that they’re demanding and having quick-turnaround cycles, building, iterating, doing follow-up research, evaluating, and then iterating on the product.”;
Adding to that, Angus Fan, PitchBook's Director of Product also weighed in on his experience with client feedback within this cycle, as it related to our launch of our new API and Datafeed: "We said, okay, well we have all these tools, but we also have clients requesting these kind of custom one-off features, that would be good for that client, but not good for others. [To meet this need] we came up with a couple of solutions: One is a Datafeed and one is an API — straight into our database...So they can build, using a car analogy, whatever kind of car they want. We give them all the core components of the car."
3. Data is no replacement for intuition and being close to your customers.
“Doing customer research obviously is key,” said Fan, “but actually what we found has been even more imperative is spending time with customers in person to understand not just their workflow and how they accomplish a certain task… but really how [PitchBook fits] into the entire workflow of their day.”
Chad Wittman, co-founder and VP of product at Dolly, likes to use data to back up what his intuition is telling him. “We use data and try to collect as much as possible to help us answer questions, but I like to use our intuition to say ‘Hey, what would be best for our customer, let’s talk to some customers, let’s try it and then measure and use the data to help guide us after that intuition has been applied.’”
4. >We’re going to see a lot of churn in the Now Economy in the next few years
Perfecting products and processes for the Now Economy is a new challenge, and a lot of companies are fine-tuning their business models. Wittman says the big question is cost-effectiveness. “I think the next phase in the next few years will be sorting out which of these business models really work and which ones aren’t cost effective.” Changing market conditions are already forcing some companies to change their business models or shut down completely.
5. Predictive data will make or break Now Economy companies
Carlson notes that “More than just data, it’s the predictive nature of what you can do with that data—the things you can connect together to either an interesting new business or a service that didn’t exist before…” The companies who will adapt best will be the ones who have the tools and expertise to stay one step ahead of their customers.