Dave is a co-founder of Verb Data and focuses his time on product management for the company. In his role he hopes to create a better way to provide SaaS users access to their data – how and when they want it.
Q: Why Verb Data?
A: Oleg and I have spent most of our careers working together at SaaS companies. At every company it felt like we would do this dance around how and when to build customer analytics dashboards in a SaaS platform. Dashboards are one of the most difficult features to build for SaaS teams because of the underlying work that they require. However, they are incredibly valuable for customers and sales teams at almost every software platform.
When building and maintaining dashboards there is a push and pull of quality and time—coupled with a need for continuous improvement. What we wanted to build often required more time than we had, but providing a sub-par experience was not something we ever allow. To top that off, once we built the dashboard it would often become stale because we might not add new features for long stretches of time. Dashboards also complicate other feature rollouts because updates to the dashboard are needed as part of the feature updates.
Our goal with Verb is to help SaaS teams build better customer-facing dashboards that perform well and are easy to iterate on so they can stay focused on their core product.
Q: You’ve spent most of your career as a product manager in early stage startups. What inspired you to follow this path?
A: I began my startup career in customer success but quickly moved into product management out of necessity. The first startup I joined had a fantastic culture of delivering what our customers wanted but we didn’t have a product management group to think ahead of our customers to provide what they needed.
I see product management as an extension of customer success because I work with customers to understand their problems and provide solutions to them. As a product manager in an early stage company you’re also an extension of every other part of the business from sales, to engineering, to finance—so it is essential that it all comes together with a great product.
Q: You spent time at Panera Bread HQ – a departure from early stage SaaS startups. What brought you there?
A: We joined Panera to help on a startup initiative. So, in a sense, we went from entrepreneurs to “intrapreneurs”. Panera has built out a lot of their own technology and it’s a very impressive operation that is scrappy and innovative just like the technology seen in most startups.
I learned a lot from everyone we worked with. In particular we learned a lot about modern data management and infrastructure that we’ve used with Verb. Panera has one of the largest restaurant loyalty programs in the country and everything they do takes into account large data sets and high transaction volumes. When they are creating a new piece of software, those dashboards have to stand up to really high standards.
Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned over the past year while building Verb?
A: I’ve learned so much while working on Verb, both from our customers and our team. The most important thing that I’ve learned and re-learned this year is that we can achieve more together, as a team, than we can as individuals. Whether it’s coming up with the next killer features or practicing your pitch, the result is always better with others around to help and provide input. Sometimes it feels like this can slow you down or get uncomfortable, but at the end of the day the final result makes it worth pushing yourself.
This also applies to our early customers who have helped us improve Verb everyday. Without them we would not be where we are today.
Q: When you’re not working on Verb what are you up to?
A: I spend a lot of time working on and thinking about Verb but when I’m not you can find me doing something active. My wife and I love hiking around the country and we spend most summer weekends finding new hikes across New England. We got a puppy this winter and we’re really excited to get her on the trails with us this summer.
When we’re not hiking we’re enjoying good food. We enjoy trying new recipes and we’re excited to go back to restaurants as things open up!