We’re excited to introduce Nichole Mace, BevSpot’s new VP of Product. In this interview, Nichole tells us more about herself, her thoughts on what makes a successful Product team, and which projects she’s most excited to sink her teeth into.
1. Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m Nichole Mace, the new VP of Product at BevSpot. I am really excited to join BevSpot at such an exciting stage of the company.
I have worked in Product for the majority of my career, and have had many positive influences that have shaped my view of what it takes to successfully deliver really good products. One of my first jobs was at a startup that was bought by Intuit. In the early days, Intuit was heavily focused on “doing right by the customer at every juncture,” even if it conflicted with other objectives. I loved this way of thinking about good product, and ultimately it has defined my career.
That experience has led me to consistently seek out product roles at companies that are driven by doing right by the customer. This has included technology startups like Constant Contact and Quilt, and more established companies like Zipcar. Each of these experiences has reinforced my belief that product plays a key role in a successful customer experience.
Personally, I am from Delaware and have spent my adult life in Washington, D.C. and Boston. I went to undergrad at the University of Delaware and got my MBA at Babson College. I am married and have a 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. I am passionate about yoga, hiking, cooking, and all things tech.
2. What attracted you to BevSpot?
I was initially attracted to BevSpot because of Rory’s (BevSpot’s CEO) drive and focus as an entrepreneur. He has a strong vision of what he wants the company to be, including a focus on the customer. As I learned more about the team and opportunity at BevSpot, I realized that there was a strong fit with my interests and experience.
BevSpot is at a really attractive point in their development, where my experience and vision around product can have a real impact. Early in my career, I spent seven years at Constant Contact growing the company from 10 to over 150,000 customers. I lived the SaaS model and spent my time tailoring the product to the needs of the customer, improving conversion and customer satisfaction, and maintaining low customer churn.
3. Based on your experience, what are the components of a successful Product organization, especially at fast-growing startups?
I see five primary components to a strong and effective Product organization:
- Clear roadmap consistent with company goals: Product is responsible for creating and maintaining a clear, flexible roadmap that supports the company’s goals. A deep understanding of the work ahead for the next few sprints is a must, a good view of the quarter ahead allows for more thoughtful and efficient development, and the 3–12 month view shows (to our best guess) what we’ll be doing. When new things come up, it makes the trade-offs clear as to what needs to be pushed out or dropped off.
- Real customer research: What makes a product (and Product team) great starts with a deep understanding of the problems you’re trying to solve. Customer surveying, data analytics and, of course, qualitative research is key to achieving understanding and uncovering the “why.”
- Killer UX + UI Design: Designing an experience based on customer research, that is enjoyable, easy, and visually pleasing is no small feat, but critical to getting to the “wow!”
- Aggressive testing and iterating: I’m a huge fan of usability testing live or online, although some product enhancements are best tested in the wild with A/B tests or limited releases.
- Communication: They say most messages are successfully communicated after seven times. Product is responsible for communication—from product strategy, to user stories, to customer messaging.
4. What role do you think technology plays in solving challenges for the food & beverage industry?
I see this industry as an especially good fit for leveraging technology, given that such a large percentage of restaurants and bars fail within the first few years. Technology can offer visibility and insights that lead to cost and time savings and increase the likelihood of businesses success.
Specifically, the ability to run leaner and increase available cash with smarter inventory management could be a game changer for many bars and restaurants. With technology in place, food and beverage businesses can move into the world of data-driven decisions and management.
5. What excites you about BevSpot’s approach to solving these challenges?
I have always been a big supporter of SME businesses, like bars and restaurants, because they are the companies that are truly innovating. Leveraging technology to enable these businesses to be successful is a way to level the playing field versus larger players in the food and beverage industry.
Playing a role in this type of disruption is truly exciting and BevSpot’s commitment to customers, and culture around empowering this innovation is especially exciting to me.
6. What project(s) are you looking forward to sinking your teeth into?
Trial Conversion: I look forward to understanding why some customers decide to buy after a trial and why some do not. Digging into which customers have which problems and what is being solved or not by BevSpot.
Once identified, these problems will help to guide the roadmap and be great fun for team building—brainstorming, testing, and iterating on solutions. I’ve always found trial conversion to be a glorious area of focus for product because improvements can be easily measured.
Cross-sell Optimization: While at Constant Contact and Quilt, I spent a good portion of my time experimenting with cross-sell and understanding what leading behaviors and customer attributes made up the top segments who were likely to buy the next product. While the products are different, I am curious to see if it similarly boils down to a few factors that drive customers to cross-sell. Also, I’d like to better understand if there are features in the Beverage product that could make it a more natural and easier cross-sell for BevSpot Food.
Churn: Once the trial period ends, what are customers looking for long-term? What levers transform an average user to the super user who relies heavily on BevSpot to grow and run their business? Is there added value in the BevSpot experience that could be considered that would drive down churn?
7. What do you hope to accomplish at BevSpot?
This one is easy: “to create BevSpot champions and promoters around the world who feel that they can’t do their job without BevSpot.”
Also, I hope to develop an innovative and cohesive Product & Design team that, along with Engineering, produce the top product experience in the category. My favorite teams are those with complementary skills that can push each other to be their best. I’d like for the Product & Design team to be a key driver to the company’s success in reaching its goals.
8. What’s your favorite “off-the-clock” drink?
I always love a Mojito with extra mint in the summertime.