Niklas Stephenson

Thoughts on building products

Building SaaS products is a complex challenge; scaling the organization around it is even more complicated. I have tried to succeed in the two since I was young and have mostly failed. This blog is me trying to put words on what has worked.

Empowered ShapeUp

ShapeUp by Basecamp is an awesome, practical, and pragmatic introduction to the process surrounding product management. It offers great tools to describe and prioritize what to build and when. However, it also describes power dynamics that will slow...

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Duel-track ShapeUp

Lately, I have talked to a lot of people about the shaping process of ShapeUp. A common misunderstanding most have is that writing pitches are something you do in the last days leading up to the betting table, nothing could be more wrong.


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What Worked - Rotato

Morten Just is one of the most skilled product people I know. Recently, he left a super cool role at Google to focus full time on his product Rotato; we had a fun talk about using Twitter to validate product ideas and how he doubled his revenue via...

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What Worked - Building a successful VC company

For years I have raised money from venture capital funds to fund my businesses. Still, I have never spent a lot of time understand how a venture fund works, so I jumped on the opportunity to talk to Peter Egehoved from Seed Capital. We talked about...

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Fear of the truth

When you start a company, it quickly becomes a big part of your identity. For many years, I was "Niklas from Firmafon". I had friends I met through the startup journey that only knew me due to my company.

Putting your identity and feelings into your...

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What worked? The 1.000 dollar coach

I am thinking of starting a new podcast where I talk to successful entrepreneurs, not about their story, but about the small details that made their company work.

The podcast will be focused on software businesses, but after discovering that my...

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Shiny new object syndrome

Yesterday I talked to a candidate who was considering applying for a developer role at Legal Monster , he could not understand why we did not apply ML/AI to solve problems.

ML/AI is great for some things, but a lot of things can be solved with simpler...

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Waves of motivation

I'm an entrepreneur and I often compare my work life with a rollercoaster ride. There are ups and downs. Some days are bad, others a good and some are a bit of both.

The ups can be everything from closing a sale, writing some great code, making a customer happy or solving something tough. The lows are all the things you don't hear about: firing your first employee who just invested his entire saving in you, the upcoming board meetings where you missed all numbers or the big client who just left you.

Startup life is like a sine wave.

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Thoughts on code

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Stop taking advice and do the job yourself

It's a little bit ironic to write a blog post with advice that asks you to stop taking advice, but here we go.

I advise a lot of people, especially around product management, but sometimes it feels like I am the 10th person they ask for the same advice...

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Related posts, as a network

One of the awesome things about Medium is that you get a blogging platform with a build in audience, you don't need to build your own from the ground up. It's hard work building an audience on your blog, I am doing it right now, and it takes a long...

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The missing link in SaaS

One thing I liked about the good old days of desktop software was that applications always created a physical file on my local desktop. That file I could copy, share and open with other application as I wished.

I could export CSV files from my accounting...

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Slacking on Slack

Slack seems to be the tool all companies need if they want to be a real tech company. Email is dead, and real-time group chat is required to be cool.

Slacks tagline is "Slack - Where work happens" but I must admit that I have never done real work...

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Poof and your product is gone

Last week I talked with a startup that had struck a deal with a tech company, for a percentage of the startup the tech company would build their product.

When I asked how their product process was, the founders of the startup looked like at me like...

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Choosing Ruby on Rails is not a technical decision

A few days ago I read a blog post about the current relevancy of Ruby on Rails, a piece of "old" technology that has been the core of all businesses I have created. The blog post in itself is not that interesting, but the following discussion on Hacker...

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The trench

It's now a few months since I left Trustpilot to start a new company together with my great friend Søren. It's 8 years since I last spent time only focused on such an early adventure.

It's amazing to be back in the trench, but also interesting to...

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How to relax your mind

Through my many years as an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things to deal with is the constant flow of thoughts. Your girlfriend were speaking to you, but all you were thinking about was that one support case that were hard to solve. I remember...

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What great product managers do and don’t do

A while ago, an old friend asked me, “What do great product managers do?” More importantly, he asked, “What don’t they do?” That’s a huge question. In fact, we could talk hours about this…

Product managers have such a wide array of responsibilities...

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Should we build what sales asks for?

The other day, one of our product managers at Trustpilot came to me with a question: "Should we build what our sales team is asking for?"

Martin is a new product manager, and he has used the first few months in the role to go around and meet different...

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I Failed my Company

This is not the post I should write about how I crashed my motorcycle in the Sahara desert and deemed both my arms out of action resulting in a silent blog, well sorry for that!

This is instead a post that has been brewing in the back of my mind...

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Team quarterly plans

At Trustpilot, we are 550+ people across 7 different offices all over the world. When we set OKR's for a product team it's often hard for the entire organisation to understand why we are focusing on one area and not another.

I do a lot of stakeholder...

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The roadmap is dead

Long live the roadmap.

When you are working within product management there are a few principles that you need to accept and all of them point in a direction where the typical roadmap is dead.

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A successful product team

Its hard to describe our full process at Trustpilot in an easy to read blog post, it would take words enough to write a full book, not because it's complicated, but because it's different.

Instead of describing the full process from goal setting to...

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A product managers reading list

I often talk with startups and product managers from larger companies about how we work, how they work and how we would all love to work. Often in our talks, their dream process and workplace is quite close to how we work at Trustpilot. Our conversations...

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Should we invest more in it?

Okay, todays post is basic product mangement, but still a tool we often use to quickly take decisions on what features we should work on next. The tool is made to be a quick view on the cost/value split between ideas and features. Its the kind of tool...

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Why I hate app agencies

I often mentor early-stage start-ups on how to validate, test and pitch their ideas. I talk to almost everybody who contacts me even if I think their ideas sound like bullshit. I don’t know what really works and what doesn't, but I help the founders...

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Leading Product Managers

Throughout my career I have always been involved with product management in one way or another. I also have had various roles in leadership, but in my current role as VP of Growth at Trustpilot it’s my first time combining the two, leading product...

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Frame your problem or idea with an Opportunity Canvas

When you as a product manager is working on a business problem there are so many factors to consider that it some times can be hard to get a holistic view of what the problem is, what solutions are out there and how its going to impact your business...

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Get product managers to be even more awesome

Being a product manager is one of the wides positions I know of when it comes to required skillsets. You need to be awesome at understanding and use data, talking to users, stakeholders, presenting for larger groups, running workshops, evangelizing...

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Learning from user interviews

We do a lot of user interviews at Trustpilot. Our consumer-facing team speaks to users that write, read and share reviews on, and our business-facing teams talk with companies that use Trustpilot. From January–May 2017 alone we’ve interviewed...

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How do we test it faster

We have all heard about the Build, Measure, Learn loop from Lean Startup. It’s a modern way of describing a true agile product development process. But how do we speed up the process? How do we make sure that we get true insights, run fast tests and...

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