ProductHQ looks to create the playbook on how to run a startup

The idea and passion may be there for a great new company, but how does an entrepreneur handle the product development process? And how does a founder know what’s to come next?

Those the reasons behind why Charlotte-based company ProductHQ was developed. It is a platform for companies to organize everything in one place and allow for easier collaboration. Essentially, co-founder Rob Barkman and the ProductHQ team have set their sights on providing a playbook on how to run a startup.

Founded in August 2017, ProductHQ has reached out to several product managers and startups around Charlotte before promoting this road map, and the result is a holding hand method for business models.

The ProductHQ platform works as a template to organize, process, and promote growth through market research and business insights. It’s already being utilized by over 100 product teams, which definitely benefits those companies. But as Barkman explained, that customer feedback has been instrumental in their own product development.

“We had a good idea of what the framework should be, but from there it’s been trial and beta testing and getting feedback and practicing what we preach,” he said.

Now that they’ve officially launched, they are offering a two-week free trial to those who register to gain even further feedback and make the platform even better.

“Give us a go and see how easy it is. With a few clicks, you can have a nice visual feature board.” As companies grow, the team is confident that others will see the benefit of utilizing ProductHQ. “When this becomes a lifestyle, you gotta get organize and get into a process. As soon as that growth gets going, you need processes. A framework like this provides that.”

One of the biggest things they’ve seen is that many startups use several different tools—which means multiple places to keep track of things, multiple programs to purchase, multiple learning curves. ProductHQ is keen on simplifying.

“You can use multiple tools to get things working right or you can have a platform that gets you through the framework of building out your product.”

Another thing that the platform does is answer the continual “what’s next?” question on the minds of founders.

Number one, Barkman advised that founders simply get started. Get the ball rolling. ProductHQ has a place to help them get started, he explained. The Feature set helps founders organize that idea.

“Number two, get in and get customer feedback,” he said. “Start interacting with your customers and build out that process of getting customer feedback. If you look at all the great brands, they have a very set process of how they are interacting with their customers.”

Startups can use the ProductHQ widget, which imbeds in their software, to receive substantial customer feedback, also empowering their customer base.

After that, the structure of building a startup is multi-faceted, with looking at market research, constantly updating ideas as new data comes in, etc. That’s why it was important to create a flexible system to help roll everything together.

As Barkman explained, “Our platform can grow with you.”

ProductHQ is currently revamping and retooling, and in the near future will be adding on a service segment to go with the platform.

“Customers can call us. We’ll do an initial conversation, and create a set plan of where you are, and we can let you know what we can do for you, and offer advice on how you can maintain things.”

Barkman said they don’t want to just turn over the platform to customers and let them fend for themselves. This is an ongoing relationship to help startups so they can meet their full potential.

“Education is key. The more education that is out there for product management, the better we are as a startup industry.”

Barkman has a bachelor’s in industrial engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and a master’s in business administration from The College of William and Mary. He’s done a lot of consulting in the Charlotte area, and one of the biggest things he learned was that everyone is struggling with product management, thus the development of ProductHQ.

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