How we build the most powerful tool to prioritize what to do and build more effective roadmaps.

Smarter roadmap prioritization - airfocus is your tool to get everyone aligned and the right stuff done
Malte Scholz

airfocus

Founded: July, 2018

Founders: 3

Employees: 15+

Who Are You & What Business Did You Start?

Hi, I’m Malte, and together with Valentin (CMO) and Hoff (CTO), we co-founded the Hamburg-based company called airfocus. airfocus is the most powerful way to prioritize what to do and build more effective roadmaps.. It was built for product managers and teams to find out which projects, ideas, initiatives or features bring the most value or ROI. Because we all have the same issue: Resources are limited...

For this purpose, the user evaluates his projects on the basis of strategic criteria defined by him on the benefit and cost side (e. g. B. Revenue growth, customer satisfaction, expense and/or risk). The airfocus algorithms then calculate prioritization scores, which can be used to make more objective and better decisions.

 

How Did You Come up with the Idea?

The idea came to me a while ago while I was still working as a product manager at a 200 employee SaaS company. Among seeing projects fail, deadlines missed, or budgets exceeded because of poor strategic decision-making, one event stood out to me. We were in a quarterly planning meeting where we were going to decide which projects and initiatives we were going to start in the coming quarter. The product owner created a physical Kanban board with new features and projects on sticky notes. Each and every person from the meeting got these small round stickers that we could add to each item to determine which one we think is a priority. There were roughly 20 to 30 of us in that meeting and everyone could assign up to 3 points/item. You can imagine the general f***ing confusion in that 3-hour meeting. What’s more, in that room we had both people that have been with the company for a while (and knew the product inside-out) and interns. So we all had the same voting rights. 

This gut-based decision-making literally kills companies.

 

Describe the Process of Launching the Business

We cross-financed the project in the first months through a tech agency by developing apps for corporations and startups. Split our time 50/50 roughly.

As long-term friends, the three of us knew each other before and the transition into working together worked out perfectly.

“We don’t want you to get stuff done. We want you to get the right stuff done” - Valentin, Malte, and Hoff from airfocus

Finding the right employees at the startup phase is crucial and challenging. This is the time when you have to set processes, establish a company culture, and figure out the company structure. All of these while managing investors, working on the product, setting up marketing campaign experiments and everything else. So yes, it’s quite challenging. But finding employees shouldn’t be too difficult. A lot of people are excited to be part of a company’s initial growth. Mostly because they get to grow with the company but also because it’s rewarding. 

 

Since Launch What Has Worked to Attract Customers?

The problem of poor prioritization is omnipresent through all levels of management. Obviously, managers want to avoid poor decisions, so there is a natural need for our product. However, there is often a certain reluctance to deal with complicated prioritization methodologies. That's why we have put a lot of energy into the development of the onboarding process of airfocus, which ensures early moments of success. 

Additionally, we write a blog that helps us to grow and to attract customers. Among others Capterra and Google ads, as well as the Trello Power-Up Store (Trello users prioritize their Trello cards through our add-on and build elegant Kanban and Gantt roadmaps), have shown themselves as effective traffic sources to date.

 

Describe a Moment Where You Had to Overcome a Challenge – Before or After Launch

When made the decision to take on external capital to gain more firepower on the product and marketing side. However, it turned out that all these fundraising activities take a whole lot of time. It was a big challenge for me to juggle my limited time between fundraising, "productive" work, and my family. However, we are very happy with the outcome with the closing of the seed round.

 

What Platforms Do You Use for Your Business?

Slack, Notion, Google drive for obvious reasons: Get stuff done, collaboration and communication. And airfocus of course. We are all high-energy people but we have rigorous prioritization frameworks in place to get the right stuff done. 

We sometimes have a video call open for some hours, so everyone from the remote team feels like they’re in the office ;)

 

Advice for Other Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting out

Launching a SaaS is relatively easy. Making it a success is not.

Starting out: Don’t read too much startup bullshit, but instead, just start working. You will figure things out yourself. Don’t ponder too much on technicalities and try to get a product in front of as many people as you can. 

In the startup phase, prioritize ruthlessly. You will have a lot of energy, a lot of ideas but little time and resources to get them done. Focus on the low-hanging fruit first and cut out the underperforming and expensive ideas. Shameless plug incoming, but you can use airfocus for this. :)

 

How Is Airfocus Better Than Its Competitors? (Who Are Your Biggest Competitors)

Our biggest competitors are the good old gut feeling in the decision-making process and overly complicated Excel spreadsheets. There are also some expensive enterprise tools or isolated applications, but in most cases, a full-time job is required to master the complexity, while airfocus can be launched in a few minutes. Because we actually don't really see ourselves as a project management app we don't compete with many of these other awesome project management or to-do apps. Instead, we really deeply integrate with the best tools in the space to make these tools better, because these tools are really good at helping you get stuff done, but they've completely failed in terms of helping you with defining what actually is the right stuff with a couple of clicks with a two-way integration.

 

Where Can We Go to Learn More About Your Company?

 

I’d be happy if you check out our blog and our website where you can give airfocus a try for free. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.