New beginnings in 2020

Feb 28th 2020 marked the end of my tour of duty at FTD.  In many ways, this job has been about a  series of superlatives.  The most rewarding job I've had.  The most stressful job I've had.  The most growth inducing job I've had. The most emotional job I've had.  And in many ways, possibly the best job I’ve ever had.

When I joined FTD in 2017, it felt very much like a start-up. A 109-year old start-up with ~$1B in revenue but a start-up nonetheless.  We were a new, scrappy team looking to do big bold things to transform and modernize the company by starting from scratch.

In his book, 'Entering Start-up Land', Jeff Bussgang has talked about three stages of a start-up : the jungle, the dirt road and the highway.  "In the jungle stage you have no idea where the paths are. You’re surrounded by a tangled mess; you grab a machete and hack away. Many use the term “preproduct/market fit” to characterize this nascent period. In the dirt road stage the path is bumpy and winding, but it’s there, and the goal is to move down it as quickly as possible. You’ve developed a well-defined product and are pursuing a clear market. You’re starting to figure out your business model and addressing the early challenges of growth. In the highway stage you’re speeding down a straight open road. You’re improving operations incrementally while executing, scaling up, and iterating."  FTD was definitely not a jungle.  It felt a bit like a dirt road in the beginning but now we seem to have sightings of the highway.

In my two years here, I have built a product and design team from the ground up.  I have rolled out two brand new websites (FTD.com and Proflowers.com).  I have lived and breathed voice of customer and data analytics. I have learnt how important it is to have a flawless post-purchase experience.  I have learnt the strong role fulfillment models play in the long-term viability of a company.  I have learnt how to look at unit economics and how to understand whether you're going after the right addressable market.  I have seen the company through a bankruptcy filing and the subsequent acquisition by a phenomenal private equity firm, Nexus Capital Management.  The highlights of my time here have been the incredible passion each of my colleagues brought to the table, the deep expertise each leader has exhibited in their areas and how hard and smart we have worked to reverse the slope of our revenue and EBITDA.  Every day I have spent at FTD has taught me something new.  And every day has given me an opportunity to make a contribution to drive our desired outcome.

To say I will miss FTD and my colleagues is a gross understatement.  At the same time, I am tremendously excited for what's up next.

On Mar 16, I start my next tour of duty at SPINS LLC as their SVP of Product & Design.  SPINS is a CPG market research company (like an IRI or Nielsen) focused on the natural and organics industry for specialty retailers.  I chose this role for three reasons :

1. The Industry : I love the CPG industry and I love the Health & Wellness space.  During b-school, I was able to work with and learn from some really amazing CPG brand marketers and have had a keen interest in the field since.  I also believe data and insights around food are a critical part of improving the health of our nation and I love the idea of democratizing access to this data for retailers, founders and consumers.

2. The Growth : I know Retail really well and I know B2C really well.  I have never worked in Software Product Management and Data Product Management particularly in the B2B space so this was a chance for me to learn a new area seeing a lot of growth and investment.  The flywheel SPINS has built in the last few years will give me a chance to help scale a company to 3 times its size over the next few years.  I am tremendously excited about the personal and professional growth this usually entails.

3. The Team : One of my first articles on this blog was about what constitutes a good culture for me.  You can read it here.  The SPINS team has checked the box on all these dimensions.  I'm joining a company that has a visionary founder with a huge amount of passion and ambition, a COO with a lot of experience in operational excellence, a CTO who is a great people leader and an innovation arm that is spinning out really neat products every year.

Wish me luck in this new endeavor and I hope to share more with you guys as I settle in over the next few months.  If you are contemplating a job at a start-up or a mid-market company, 'Are You Suited For a Start-up' is a really neat article that walks you through how to evaluate the opportunity.

Onwards and upwards!

Comments

  1. I have had the most exciting professional experience at a CPG market research startup myself. I’d love to see where SPINS takes you. Best of luck!

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