Hi Constantin! Would you mind introducing yourself?
Constantin: Hi there! I am Constantin - Head of Product Management at Capmo - and I joined the company in October 2020. I’ve been in Product for nearly 8 years now and people I’ve worked with would describe me as an ambitious, dedicated, and empathetic person. Next to being a car enthusiast and regularly going bouldering, some might not know that I can be really nerdy about stuff. I used to play table tennis in a club for 2 years and had a huge addiction to snooker (haven’t played in ages). Since I am also a passionate PC gamer, I love to build and maintain my gaming computer and can get really nerdy about games and gaming technology in general.
Let’s start with the beginning of your Capmo journey. You’ve been with us for quite some time now!
Constantin: It’s true - in Capmo-time, I’ve been with the company for nearly half of its life :)!
Back when I joined as a Senior Product Manager, we had just split the Product & Engineering team (12 folks back then) into two product teams, one of which I took over as their Product Manager. Over the course of 2021, we shipped loads of value to our customers out of those product teams.
Ending 2021 I was given the opportunity to take on a challenge that I was already very excited about for a while - I became the Acting Team Lead of Product Management. Based on the feedback I had received over the years and based on my experience growing, it became clear to me at some point that I wanted to shift my focus away from building great products towards building and scaling great product teams, enabling Product Managers to grow and become their best selves. Being Head of Product Management now for nearly a year, I truly am grateful for the opportunity I was given at Capmo and challenge myself every day to grow alongside and through my peers.
That’s a great journey so far! Do you still remember why you joined us in the first place?
Constantin: Two things that made a difference to me back when I joined:
Capmos product is a truly purposeful one. I didn’t want to build another e-commerce platform or convenience product that doesn’t solve any actual problems. Hence Capmo’s mission to improve not only the professional lives of our customers but also their private lives by saving them so much valuable time was quite convincing to me.
Even in the earlier days, it was very visible that the company culture was truly a differentiator. I had been working in cool companies before, but the level of empathy and the absence of politics and bullshit at Capmo is unique to me. Now that we have 100+ Capmos and still manage to maintain and foster that culture is a huge benefit for me.
I am happy to hear that we’re still keeping up with both of the reasons you named! Did you always want to become Head of Product at Capmo (haha)? How did you get into Product & Engineering?
Constantin: Quite coincidental frankly - I started my career in tech through a working student position in Online Marketing at a larger Berlin-based tech company. Marketing was a great starting point to get in touch with data and while exploring, I started analyzing the performance of some products the company was offering. That led me quickly to questions like “How does one know what problems to solve?” or “How can we create value for our customers?” and understand whether we did or didn’t. Through some peer connections, I was eventually offered a position as a Product Manager at an early-stage e-health startup in Berlin and that ignited my journey into Product. Until today I am driven by the mystery of user value and by solving problems in new and bold ways.
Now tell me, what is your favorite part about your job?
Constantin: Certainly the people! There are so many talented and diverse individuals I am lucky to work with on quite different flight levels and I enjoy that so much. I could not imagine doing a job where I would not have a team to bounce ideas off, receive feedback from and share appreciation with. Stepping into a managing role has also elevated my peer group further which I truly value.
However, even though it’s cliche, I have to mention here as well that there is no better reward in Product than seeing how we impact the lives of our customers. This is and always will be one of my core motivations for doing this job.
What are you currently working on?
Constantin: Exciting times to ask that question! We are in the midst of narrowing down and iterating on our product strategy. The construction industry is an enormously challenging and exciting industry to digitize. I have the highest respect for the job our customers are doing as it is not at all an easy one - with long days and little reward in their day-to-day, lots of stress and pressure. Partially due to the fact that many companies still rely on analog or rudimentary digital processes as they were still able to make money out of that for a long time. We see an increasing shift now towards the realization that digitization is a necessity and not a nice-to-have in order to increase efficiency. We strive to serve our customers with a platform that they can leverage to truly amp up their game and thus increase their efficiency and profit margin in the future. That requires quite some strategic focus and bold bets on our end which is what we are setting up for right now. I believe that we have some really exciting and game-changing ideas currently that we will set in action soon.
Talking about game-changing ideas. We already had huge progress with our product!
Constantin: Capmo started out originally as a pretty simple tool to allow easy and digital defect management for construction managers and craftsmen. A LOT has happened since then.
We realized that great construction software needs to cater for two main use cases - a stationary one (e.g. in an office or a container) as well as a remote one (e.g. on the construction site). Early on, Capmo started to put a lot of focus on its mobile app. That came with added complexity. How should we ensure our product works in freshly dried basements where you rarely have any connectivity? Building a solution that works well both offline and online was critical. By now, we see a nearly even 50:50 split in weekly usage between our web app and our mobile app. That’s why we decided to put even more focus on our mobile app in the future by rewriting it completely and this time - going native! Like many startups, Capmo used a hybrid approach with React Native to have a fast go-to market. Increasing complexity and a stronger focus on user experience in the future led us to make the decision to specialize our mobile efforts and build truly native mobile apps - unlocking great opportunities for us to deliver best-in-class software for mobile devices.
Additionally, we have expanded the product into new areas over the past 2 years. We enabled our customers to efficiently and easily manage their construction schedule. We have created a solution for maintaining the many, many construction meetings our customers have - both on-site and in-office locations. We have introduced ways of standardizing the way construction projects are managed with Capmo and simplified their setup. While broadening our product generally, we also started to interlink our functionalities like our ticket system and the construction schedule to make it even easier for our customers to save time working with Capmo.
Having a quite broad product now, the main challenge ahead is turning it into a platform for construction execution. Our vision is to let every project member collaborate effectively in an easy and standardized way on the same platform, no matter if they actually use Capmo or not. Having started out as an end-user-only focused workflow system, this is quite a shift for us and the way we are building our product. It is going to be extremely exciting to see this vision come alive next year.
"Capmo is for sure the most special product I ever worked on as it solves a severe problem and impacts both the professional and personal lives of our customers. While many of the above-mentioned milestones are something to be proud of, ultimately it is the feedback of our customers that motivates us to push above and beyond. When you hear that due to our work, construction managers are able to leave the construction site and go home to their families to put their kids to bed instead of having to return to the office for documentation, it is the greatest reward of all in my opinion."
How is working in Product, Design & Engineering at Capmo different from other companies?
Constantin: One thing that immediately stands out to me is the strong product culture we foster inside and outside of Product, Design & Engineering. We strongly believe in customer-centricity, and that’s why we spend a lot of time with our users. Recently, we visited a customer on-site and spent the day observing, learning, and asking questions. We aim to continuously validate our ideas with actual customers to see if we are solving their problems in the right way. In addition, we have a very strong and powerful data setup that allows us to also quantitatively understand how our product is used at scale which is a great way of informing priorities and opportunities.
We also believe building the best product is a collaborative effort and that Product Managers are facilitators towards making efficient and effective decisions to reduce time-to-value for our customers and our company. One idea we are currently trying to push even more is to foster a product-led culture where everyone at Capmo always puts our product first. I don’t believe so much in the classical separation between “sales-led” and “product-led”, but ultimately believe that “being product-led” means putting a high priority within the entire company on building a truly great product. In that sense, it becomes a shared accountability where Product Managers are responsible for ensuring that decisions are made, commitments and goals are clear, value is aligned and impact is measurable. We have learned that working in silos and considering Product as being the department that makes all the decisions will eventually lead to building a weaker product compared to one where inclusive ways of working and prioritizing have been incorporated.
All in all, I think we are already providing a great environment for doing Product Management and continuously iterating our processes and approaches to ensure we can scale and keep our product culture on the high level it currently is.
Last question and one of my favorite ones: What was your greatest team achievement so far?
Constantin: That’s a tough one to pick. I think for me personally it would be simply seeing where the team takes it every week. We have scaled Product, Design & Engineering 3.5x this year and I am stoked to see all the talented and committed individuals going above and beyond for Capmo. I am really proud of my team specifically for what they have made with Product at Capmo this year. We built so many cool things, and created so much value all whilst constantly challenging ourselves, our setup, our processes, and our expectations to ensure we do best-in-class Product Management. Can’t wait to see what they will achieve in ‘23.