Maveriqs Journey (30 Days Later): Peter Stougaard, CEO & Co-Founder, PopBoardz LLC.
It's been 30 days since we last spoke with Peter Stougaard of PopBoardz about his entrepreneurial background, career before becoming his own boss, and how his company's product came to be. Peter had some fantastic wisdom and guidance to share when we last spoke. So much so, that we decided it was only right to follow Peter's journey as he continues to grow his business. We caught up with him last weekend at his home office in Studio City where he took time out to share the latest on PopBoardz. Here's what he had to say.
What is the current state of the company?
We are out meeting with as many potential investors as we can at this point. From angel groups to VC’s (Venture Capitalists). We’re getting a lot more attention from the investment community here in Los Angeles due to our relationships in Hollywood.
While those activities are going on we’ve also been working on the back-end of PopBoardz. We’ve been developing a cloud infrastructure, and are about to launch an online storage and web reader version. As we store your boardz, we’re turning each one into a website that you can share without the need of our native software. This will be a boon for our customers, because they’ll be able to create highly-individualized boardz with clients by simply sharing a URL.
We’ve also been testing, what we call, “Nested Boardz", which allows users to put an entire board inside of a tile. This can give you up to 256 tiles “available” from a single Dashboard. Our Beta testers cannot live without this capability.
These are just a couple of features that will make subscribing to our Pro service more enticing.
We’re also doing another release in the App Store. This upcoming release will add some invisible infrastructure elements to make PopBoardz a lot more robust moving forward. Think of it like when Apple moved from Power PC to Intel processors. Our changes may not be that radical but we know that ultimately the users will say, “Wow!”.
It’s been 30 days since we last touched based, what has changed since the last time we spoke?
Our mission has remained the same. We’ve been focused on a grassroots approach to building our “100” influential people who LOVE PopBoardz, one user at a time. We’re connecting with people who are pitching or selling in their businesses. That’s one reason why the real estate sales side of the outreach has been so great, these agents are discussing properties with clients everyday. They tell us that we make them look “tech savvy” and much more informed because they have answers instantly at their fingertips. In fact, one agency has been buying big iPad Pro tablets at an alarming rate…the big screen just adds even more to the effect. When a presentation becomes a discussion, that’s when PopBoardz shines.
It’s that one-on-one discussion, when the rubber meets the road, and your adrenaline is highest when you want to have the perfect example at the moment you need it.
Our “100” face these situations all the time. And we hold their hands in the beginning, build them their first presentation, and let them go be a “rockstar” in their meetings. Then we show them how to create presentations for themselves in the future. We want them to experience the feeling of, PopBoardz being their “wingman” during, what I call, the “adrenaline moment” (when stakes are the highest). Nothing is more satisfying.
When a presentation becomes a discussion. That's when PopBoardz shines.
When going after your “100” users, are you identifying those individuals and seeking them out, or are you leveraging existing relationships to connect with them?
The answer is YES to all of the above! We’ve received some great clients from referrals and word-of-mouth. Some of our “100” have already told their friends, which has led to brand new opportunities.
Also, the team’s years in the entertainment business has kept us in touch with a lot of people who have moved around the industry and landed at some great new positions. We’ve been reaching out to them and interestingly, they reach out to us too. The last interview that Maveriq’s published also helped ring the bell with some people who I hadn’t talked to in ages, so that was great… Thanks!
Of course there are potential users we think would be perfect for PopBoardz, yet none of us have a direct connection to… we’re finding creative ways to meet with them as well.
How important is patience in your enterprise?
Patience is an acquired taste. One that I learned about years ago. It’s all about patience, persistence, your passion, and a little bit of luck. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” is a favorite quote. You get yourself prepared and go create that opportunity.
I’ve refocused my life knowing that this is going to take a while. I’ve trimmed some things in my world, and focused on how best to pay the mortgage while I chase my dream. Knock on wood...it’s worked. Thankfully, everybody in my circle has been supportive. That all helps me to sustain my drive.
What elements, individuals, or companies in your industry do you keep a close eye on?
You’re always looking for comparative companies out there. Often when you get in front of investors they’ll ask “so who are you guys like.”
We always hear that in the movie business - and we would always say “It’s movie X meets movie Y.”
But for PopBoardz we’ve done much more extensive “deep dives” on whatever we can find out about comparative companies in our space. Companies like Prezi, Evernote and Quip. We’ve been looking at a lot of what they’ve done, and learning from mistakes because there are a lot of similarities in the way we’ve approached PopBoardz.
What about feedback? How do you collect information from your user base or the app community in general?
When it comes to customer service, we reply to help requests as quickly as we possibly can, and have gratefully received nice comments in the App Store along the lines of, “Gee the customer service I received was great… they got back to me right away!”
As far as collecting user information, we’ve incorporated a lot of internal analytics, which is giving us “super” granular information about how people are using PopBoardz. We are also testing “programmed retention elements” (growth hacking techniques) that help users learn and try many of our newest features. This is all an effort to create satisfied customers that hopefully will become subscribers to our Pro services.
How do you instill company culture, and keep your team motivated at PopBoardz?
We’ve got a great team in place right now including a satellite group in Bulgaria. Being nimble and open to another approach to solving a problem is super important. The team feels invested because their ideas are being heard. Our CTO Stephen and I have been working together for over 5 years doing apps for major movie studios. We’ve developed a “shorthand” language with each other that creates efficient communication of ideas and a “culture” that makes me now consider him a close friend.
When we have teams conversations, it’s a round table. Nothing’s set in stone or has to be a certain way, and the team responds well to that. They’ll say, “Peter have you thought about this way?” I’ll respond “No, let’s try that.” It’s development, not a dictatorship.
What’s an entrepreneurial lesson that is at the top of your mind right now that you can share with our readers?
What I’ve learned most recently is that diving deep and holding the hands of my “influential 100” is vital. These people have also become my friends. It’s not just about putting the product in the App Store and seeing hundreds or thousands of downloads. We have far less touch with those people, unless they send us an email or post a comment. These 100 people will lead to thousands that love the product.
When you’ve identified someone that you want to be part of the “100,” how do you take the steps to ensure they understand the value of the product and engaging with you?
I am having to be selective about who I decide is a part of the 100. I need those people to be doing things that I think are broad enough that they will apply to lots of different audiences.
Some people want to use PopBoardz as a portfolio for themselves, and that’s great, but doesn’t really get to the level of being useful for the “100” project. We love the fact that they want to use PopBoardz to organize their work, but it becomes hard to justify spending time on custom features for that one user. However, there are exceptions. Say it’s a portfolio for a photo agency, and they’re building custom boardz that they can use to present to their corporate clients, then it's less personal organizational and more business/client portfolio. That’s interesting to us.
What will have changed when we check in with you after another 30 days?
We will have delivered and continue to deliver many finished custom presentations to our selected “100”. One example is an enormous 16 board referral program to a luxury apartment complex client this week.
I’m also hoping within the next 30 days, that we will have had deeper conversations with a potential financial partner. That’s always a part of the journey. Thinking about raising more money, how we do it, whether we need to give anything away, and what are we learning from the meetings we take.
Fortunately a lot of the people we have been speaking with in the investment community see the product and “get it” right away. Since we present our business plan on PopBoardz, they immediately see how they could use it themselves in their investment business.
That’s what PopBoardz is all about. We’re making a product that they could actually use everyday. In fact, we would love to have a venture capitalist as a client. Helping them put a PopBoard together for a big project that they’re doing would be amazing!
We want to thank Peter for allowing us to take a deeper dive into the progress that he and his company PopBoardz are making. What questions do you have for Peter about growing your business and maintaining momentum? Please share your thoughts or inquiries in the comments below.