Interview with Malte Scholz
Malte is a passionate product manager and technology enthusiast with deep knowledge in launching cross-platform SaaS and e-commerce products. He feels a strong obligation to build airfocus
as he could not stand the constant pain of bad prioritization and lack of clear roadmaps.
Hi Malte, could you start by telling us a little bit about airfocus and what led you to found the company?
Hi! My name is Malte, and I'm one of three co-founders of the airfocus GmbH. And I actually came up with the idea for airfocus around two years ago: I was working in product management and, as many of you probably know, product management is primarily about making prioritisation decisions. And the way the companies and projects that I've worked in were making prioritisation decision was very frustrating to me, because it was inefficient, not integrated with the tools you use, and, basically, everyone was completely unaligned. And I was looking for solutions, and since I couldn't find really anything, I kind of built a prototype of airfocus over the weekend with a good friend of mine - who is now a CTO and one of my co-founders - and what was a side project, really quickly became a real company now, and we're making really good progress: growing 20 percent month over month, and now hired our first few employees. So it's going really well. But sometimes funny how something that personally bugs you and you're just looking for a quick solution, completely changes your life and basically creates a company.
airfocus has just finished its first round of financing – which was very successful – what will be the immediate and long-term effects of the financing?
Yes! It's absolutely great that we now completed our seed round and have these fantastic partners on board. What will be the immediate effects of the financing? Well, we can completely focus on airfocus, and don't have to rely on consulting jobs and running other companies to pay the bills - so that's a really nice benefit. And we can also hire a few desperately-needed people to the team and spend, like, 5 x on performance marketing than we used to do, so this is something that really will help us in the short term. And in the long term, obviously we have plans to build a really successful big company with airfocus, and this is just the first step on probably a few financing rounds that will help us achieve that.
In what ways does airfocus make use of data and facts to help people and companies more effectively prioritize?
So how does the airfocus pre-decision framework actually work? So, we all know when making very important decisions, there's usually a couple of criteria that come into play. So, let's say you're a software company: you want to build a long-term, sustainable business and you have to make decisions on what high-level features you build next. Do you create a new website? Do you build a new mobile app? Do you expand to another market? Do you build a Slack bot? So, many of these questions about what to do next, and you know for sure you can't do all of them. So now it's time to make a solid, more objective decision, and the way you do that in airfocus is you create a couple of strategy criteria, for example: is his is gonna help me increase my revenue short term? Is this something that strategically helps us build a sustainable business? Does this feature maybe help me retain existing customers? Is it rather suited to help me achieve enterprise customers? All these value criteria, you want to take into account when making the decisions, and then obviously there's also a cost side, so for example: what are the development costs of building this feature? What are the marketing costs that will occur after you have built the feature, to market the feature? So what is the risk associated with this, with the development of this feature project? And so, what you do is you have all these strategy criteria, and then you rate your different projects and features against these criteria, and that way you give us enough data so we can calculate your priorities cost. And once you have that, we also visualize them nicely and give you the best base to make really objective - or at least, more objective - decisions, because at the end any decision is not completely objective.
There is a huge number of digital project management apps available, how will airfocus stand out from the crowd, and what challenges are there in marketing a productivity app?
We actually don't really see ourselves as a project management app - although we are probably in the project management software space somehow - but we don't compete with the likes of Trello, Jira, Asana, and many of these other awesome project management or to-do apps. Instead, we really deeply integrate with the best tools in the space to make these tools better, because these tools are really good at helping you get stuff done, but they've completely failed - and this probably by design - they completely fail in terms of helping you with defining what actually is the right stuff. And that's where airfocus comes into play, and we integrate nicely with a couple of clicks with a two-way integration, so there's no double data entry for you at all. And airfocus basically gives you a really nice framework to prioritize what to do next. And then once you know that, build like awesome, stunning, beautiful roadmaps that you can share with anyone and get everyone aligned, and that's our mission. And that's why we grow on the backs of these giant companies like Jira, Trello, Asana, and so on.