“Blossom” is a lightweight project management tool.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Schranz’ regarding his start-up company “Blossom”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Blossom” is all about?
We provide a very lightweight project management tool for mobile and web application development.
Our tool is ideal for people who ship early and often and really love the products they create.
At Blossom we truly strive to understand the needs of product teams better than any other company.
If you are working on a mobile or web application we’d love to get you on board.
2. When has “Blossom” been founded? And what stage is “Blossom” currently at?
We started in Spring 2011, joined Seedcamp (Europe’s leading startup accelerator program) later that year and are making first revenue since mid 2012.
We are growing steadily ever since and are always looking for people who deeply care about crafting products to join us on our journey.
Ping us if you are interested or know someone who might be a great fit for us.
3. What is “Blossom”‘s business model and how does it work?
Our business model is very simple actually. We charge money for our tool on a monthly basis (SaaS).
What I especially like about SaaS is that it alignes the financial incentives of the company with the philosophy of building a great relationship with your customers.
It puts emphasize on delivering value on a continuous basis.
If people like what we do they stay and our revenue grows. As simple as that.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We actually know each other for a few years. The first time all three of us met in the same place was back in January 2008 at a BarCamp in Vienna.
While all of us have a background in engineering we like to think of ourselves as all-rounders. We dig programming as well as UX, design, marketing and many other things.
That said we currently have different areas of focus.
Nik’s main focus is architecture as well as frontend and backend code.
Allan is mainly responsible for user experience, corporate identity and design.
My personal focus is on marketing, customer support and product.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
While many project management tools for software products are built solely with engineers in mind we care a lot about getting the whole product team on the same page.
That’s the reason why we deeply care about a lightweight look & feel which works as well for engineers as it does for designers, marketers and product managers.
It is a small change in focus but it has huge implications in terms of wording, interaction design and data visualization.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Blossom” achieved so far?
When I look back some of the more meaningful milestones along our journey were
* Actually launching something
* Getting into Seedcamp
* Working on the product full time
* Switching from “free” to charging money
* Getting our first customer (Ex-Apple employee)
* Growing revenue to ramen profitability
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Blossom”‘s competitive advantage over them?
The project management space is super crowded.
Even in the niche of project management software for mobile and web application development the tools are a dime a dozen. At the same time there is no dominant player in the market which makes the space really exciting.
What we are focusing on is to understand the needs of product teams better than any other company.
So in a sense we are focusing on a niche that we deeply care about.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
One of the hardest things to face for me personally is to decide which features to add to your product and which features to leave out.
Even harder is making the call to remove a certain feature that you’ve already shipped and that is used by your customers.
This is an ongoing challenge but it is exactly what makes crafting a product so fascinating.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
I think one of the most obvious things to understand about crafting incredible products is that it is way easier if you have
* small fairly autonomous teams of about 5-8 people (2-pizza teams)
* that have a cross-functional skillset (UX, design, marketing, engineering)
* who deeply care about what they are doing
Just structuring your product teams in this way will solve a ton of problems that software companies are struggling with today.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
The way I see it we’ve already succeeded at the moment when we decided to start. Being able to focus on building tools that help people to create the best products on the market is incredibly satisfying.
What more can you ask for than to dedicate your time to have a sustainable impact on innovation and the way people live their lives?
11. If “Blossom” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We strive to truly understand the needs of product teams better than any other company. I don’t see us moving away from this philosophy anytime soon.
I believe there are many many opportunities in the product management and development space but right now we are focusing on what we have at the moment.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Blossom” based on?
As we’ve worked for several companies and startups as well as on personal projects in the past we’ve basically used every project management tool on the market. No matter whether it was intended to be used for software development or not.
During that time we’ve got more and more frustrated with the tools on the market. Especially issue tracking & bug tracking software clearly wasn’t a good fit to how we’ve been working.
After some time we’ve decided that we’ll just write a project management tool that we’d like to use.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Starting to charge money for our product was one of the most important steps we made since launching and looking back we probably should have done so way earlier.
The quality of feedback we’ve got since then dramatically increased. This enabled us to improve the product and go into the right direction way faster than before.
My personal lesson learned is that while “free” is a powerful marketing vehicle it can attract people to your product that might not be your actual target audience. This can make it very hard to focus on what the most important next steps are.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I think one of the most challenging things is and always will be to win the best people on the market as your customers, partners, investors and employees.
That’s why it is so important to do something that you really care about. If you don’t care, how will you find someone to join you on your journey?
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Our tool helps product teams to stay focused, aligned & on the same page even if the team is distributed.
It helps to show what’s going on, who is working on what, what’s coming next, potential challenges/blockers as well as opportunities.
Kanban is a great way to continuously improve the product you are crafting as well as the process that you are using.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Almost all of our existing customers came through word of mouth and inbound marketing.
We don’t do any sales, we try to share our philosophy around product management on twitter, our blog and at conferences.
Max Hersey, a friend of us calls this approach “Show don’t tell, share don’t sell” which really resonated with me and captures the essence of our marketing philosophy.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
On our journey we’ve won many interesting customers from huge companies with impressive product portfolios to small fast moving teams at YCombinator, TechStars, AngelPad, Seedcamp & 500 Startups.
I’d say the ideal product team that’s happy with our product is cross functional (Designers, Marketers, Engineers, … all in the same team), has a size of around 5-8 people and really cares about what they do.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Our main channels for getting new customers on board are word of mouth, twitter, blogs and various other places on the web with content about product management and user experience.
Most of the customers that find out about us are actively looking for a way to improve their product development process.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Here are a few quotes:
“Project management is a critical part of growing a lean startup, blossom.io looks like a promising product.” by Hiten Shah (Product at KISSmetrics)
“Solid UX, clean, blossom.io is marinated in high octane potential.” by Christopher Kahler (CEO of Qriously)
“blossom.io is nicely done. Good design, good thinking.” by Ryan Singer (UI design, code & product management at 37Signals)
20. How are you going to scale?
In terms of marketing we will continue to focus on inbound marketing and providing a product and service that people love to talk about.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Tight integration with popular services like Bitbucket and Github are among the most frequently requested features.
Another thing that many of our customers are quite excited about are integrations with HipChat and FlowDock.
We are really excited about smooth workflows and we can’t wait to ship these integrations as soon as possible.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We’ve started out with an english version of our product. This enabled us to win customers from all over the world right from the start.
That said we will definitely look into localization going forward.
Text and language is an integral part of the user experience and I believe while it is not easy to do localization well it makes your product more accessible and valuable to a larger group of people.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
It’s hard to say how big the market actually is or how big it will be going forward but we believe that as the barrier to create mobile and web applications gets lower & lower we will see a few things in the future.
* More & more products on the market(s). This is just the beginning
* Faster iteration cycles
* Tighter & tighter competition
* The quality of products will increase way faster than in the past
These are great trends to be a part of. The next few years will be incredibly exciting. It’s going to be quite a journey.
No wonder that Marc Andreessen wrote about why software eats the world.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We are always looking for people excited about crafting awesome products.
Some things that we are really excited about are interaction design, engineering, user experience, inbound and lifecycle marketing, service design, artificial intelligence and typography.
Just shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or ping us on twitter.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are self-sustainable thanks to our SaaS business model but always looking for great people to join us on our journey to lift the world of mobile and web application development to the next level.
If you share our passion for crafting great products shoot us an email to email@example.com or ping us on twitter.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Ask yourself whether serving your customers for a lifetime sounds exciting to you.
If your answer is yes, you will have a great time.