January 24, 2019
PUBLISHED BY Obo
SAN MATEO, Calif.– January 24, 2019 – Obo, the world’s first product decision system, emerged today from stealth with $8.2 million in funding led by Wildcat Venture Partners and TDF Ventures, bringing to life its vision to enable technology companies to embrace a new Put Your Best Product ForwardTM approach and replace the “fail forward fast” paradigm.
John Maxwell famously said “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward”—Silicon Valley and beyond obeyed. Despite several decades of boundless iteration and pivoting in tech circles, product failure is a $600 billion a year problem, affecting company valuations, investors and employees. It also frequently leaves customers stranded when a product disappears, or dissatisfied when they don’t get the features they need most. But what if you could build the right product and features the first time?
As Geoffrey Moore, business expert and bestselling author of Crossing the Chasm, notes: “Fail forward fast…has failed. Companies should be focused not on failing faster but on succeeding faster. Obo has gone beyond basic best practices and codified a sophisticated process to get to the right product decisions.”
Obo is designed to empower technology product organizations to make better decisions and consistently put their best product forward by aligning the product process with core business objectives and using concrete data from the market, customers, and internal stakeholders to inform the product decision-making process at every step. Instead of building elaborate roadmaps in silos for what may or may not be the right features, teams across an enterprise—from the C-suite to product managers to engineers to customer success teams—can use Obo to collaborate on product plans. With the Obo SaaS platform, customers can create a better product plan in just 60 minutes, eliminating wasted time and resources. Obo’s capabilities and features are detailed in a separate announcement today.
Led by veteran entrepreneur and CEO Pete Sinclair, the Obo team has over 100 years of combined product success, building products and leading product teams at Oracle, Salesforce.com, Adobe, SAP, IBM, Apple, and Yahoo!, among others. With that experience comes a vast understanding of what causes a product to succeed or fail. Building the wrong product or feature due to insufficient market validation, inefficient processes, and inadequate stakeholder input are all at the top of that list. In fact, according to Obo’s State of the Product Journey survey released today, respondents across job functions—from executive to product manager to engineer to sales—believe that their organization’s current approach to product planning is OK – not great, but good enough, verifying the urgent need for a paradigm shift in how product decisions are made.
“From Obo’s engineering team to its executive staff, experience in building successful products runs deep,” said Bruce Cleveland, Obo co-founder and founding partner at Wildcat Venture Partners. “With our extensive product and engineering backgrounds, Steve Mankoff, general partner at TDF Ventures, and I saw firsthand the clear need in the market for a system that brings deep analytic capabilities to the product decision-making process. We invested in Obo to meet this need with a system that has the compute power and intelligence to use all relevant data available to businesses when making decisions. We’re proud of what the team has built and their dedication to solving the challenges faced by product teams.”
Product success in 60 minutes or less
Digital transformation currently impacts almost every part of the business and is changing the way organizations work, from the C-suite to the engineers to the HR department. The problem is that product creation – the heart of a company – has not caught up with the rest of the organization. In many cases, product managers still rely on myriad tools such as spreadsheets and slide decks to develop product plans; but those tools don’t connect the dots (or to each other). Successful product planning requires market insight and expertise, as well as hundreds of hours of work analyzing data, conducting interviews, completing additional competitive and market research, documenting requirements for features, and building out a plan.
“We’re now well into the days of AI and machine learning, yet we’re still using spreadsheets to do product planning,” said Sinclair. “There are applications in the market today that help you build the wrong product faster, when what you need are applications that help you make better decisions about what you should build before you build it. Obo’s product decision system allows product teams to get to a better product plan in 60 minutes or less and quickly start down the path to product success.”
“Product management is a rapidly expanding field, but little has been done to ease the burden of the data deluge that teams need to sift through to prioritize and make data-driven decisions. Obo enables product teams to build better plans while streamlining the decision-making process,” said Steve Mankoff, partner at TDF Ventures. “Given the enormous impact and cost of products that miss the mark, the market opportunity for Obo is massive. Especially in times of economic uncertainty, companies simply can’t afford to spend resources on developing products that aren’t destined to succeed.”
Product managers often struggle to prioritize what goes into product plans. In fast-paced business environments, it’s challenging to collaborate and communicate with business leaders to make decisions that support strategy. Obo ensures that business objectives and product decisions go hand-in-hand. By easily aligning product decisions with corporate objectives and backing them with concrete data from stakeholders and the market, product teams reduce risk when developing new products or product features and can clearly articulate the “why” behind product decisions.
“I’ve spent my professional career observing, writing about, and working with startups, studying the specific market dynamics surrounding disruptive innovations. I’ve seen firsthand the challenges that the product team faces when building a new product or feature. More often than not, the wrong decision is made due to a lack of data about market need or a miscommunication of priorities,” said Moore. “Driven by the leadership team’s strong experience in the product world and ambitious vision to help more products succeed, Obo all but eliminates these issues. It brings something to the table that I haven’t seen before and makes better product plans a reality in far less time than traditional methods. By investing in the company, we truly believe we are laying the groundwork for a revolution in management of the product process.”
“Companies need to build their products quickly and deliver them to the market, but they don’t have the right applications to do so successfully. Our team has leveraged our combined expertise to make it easy for product teams to produce higher quality product plans in 60 minutes or less,” says Pete Sinclair, CEO at Obo. “We’re excited to have the support and guidance of industry leaders such as Geoff, Bruce, and Steve as we realize our vision to give companies a better path to success for the core product elements of their businesses.”