Hi! I'm a B2B product manager for Bay Area startups. That means I help people enjoy work by replacing paper, email, Excel, and/or someone else's crappy software with mobile & web tech that automates boring stuff, simplifies hard stuff, and makes impossible stuff possible. I make power tools for minds.

I'm looking for a startup to join! Ideally an early-stage one with a product-focused CEO who’s ready to delegate some Product work in order to better focus on CEO-ing. I did this at Cantaloupe Systems where I led PM from early-stage to $16M ARR and a 4x-to-investors exit. I'd like to do that again!

I'm focusing my search on what I know best: developer tools/APIs (the next Algolia or Vercel) or tech that manages physical stuff (the next Flexport or PlanGrid).

work stuff

  • My Startup That Was Killed by COVID

    It’s been my long-term dream to take the hassle out of scheduling time to see friends in person. Like Uber for your time, or Tinder for existing friends. After Cantaloupe’s exit, I took a year to design and build a basic in-person social network where you add your friends, periodically record your free time (usually in response to notifications), and the app tries to match friends who want to hang out at the same times. That's the easy part. The hard part is managing the complex social dynamics that come with in-person plans. For example, how to avoid hurting feelings of a friend who you don't want to see more than 1x per year? How to avoid looking like a loser who's always free? How to avoid only hanging out with losers who are always free? How to be able to cancel if you're tired, without encouraging flakes? And so on.

    I bootstrapped a product from nothing to something. Designed UX workflows. Defined tech stack. Improved my (very!) rusty engineering skills. Built MVP (minimum viable product) on a glidepath to alpha release for early adopters in March 2020. Can you spot the flaw in this plan?

    2020-21 was obviously incompatible with a new in-person social network, especially one focused on strengthening an extended network of “weak-tie” connections. Before COVID hit, I was already close to my limit of motivational (and financial!) patience. Waiting yet another year (or more!) to know if the idea was going to work was just too much. So I opted not to make my MVP into a business. Instead, I'm going back to what I’m best at: SaaS Product Management!

  • Cantaloupe Systems

    From 2011-2018 I led PM at Cantaloupe Systems, the leading SaaS provider for the $10B+ worldwide vending industry. After an $85M, 4x-to-investors acquisition by USA Technologies (later renamed to Cantaloupe, Inc.), I led PM for the combined company for a while before leaving to take time off to work on some nerdy side projects and to start something new. Here's what we did at Cantaloupe:
    • Enabled cashless (card swipes or mobile tap) payments at vending machines, growing our cashless product to #2 in the industry behind our eventual acquirer
    • Tracked near-real-time machine inventory and used that data to generate "prekits" to save warehouse and driver time
    • Managed one of the largest B2B IoT networks in the world, with 100,000s of cellular-modem-connected vending machines
    • Automatically built daily route schedules to optimize driver time and reduce vehicle and fuel costs
    • Algorithmically adjusted machine planograms to increase same-store sales and reduce "empties"
    • Managed warehouse operations and handled back-office accountability for cash and merchandise
    • Built mobile apps for very low-tech route drivers and warehouse workers
    • Built an ERP/CRM system for the vending industry, optimized around vending-specific workflows and analytics
  • Splunk

    From 2009-2011 I did PM at Splunk, a big-data software company in San Francisco. I was responsible for Splunkbase app marketplace and Splunk Answers support community. I also drove Splunk's overall product-to-Web strategy: ensuring our app store and other community sites were seamlessly integrated into product features, were relevant for business users (not just online-community enthusiasts), and easy to use from inside the product.

    I also led the team that built Splunk's Application Management solution, managing the cross-functional team that delivered V1.0, which focused on analytics, operational reporting, and troubleshooting for Java Application Servers.
  • MSDN and TechNet

    I was PM of msdn.com and technet.com, which at the time were the Web's largest community sites for developers and IT-Pros. I built out an analytics team (and the tech behind it), defined customer-success metrics and helped the team improve them, integrated MSDN with Visual Studio, grew Microsoft's online developer communities, and built an "internal SaaS" model to lower editorial and globalization costs. I also overhauled site navigation across 10M+ pages and improved site search.
  • Microsoft Server Management Products

    I co-founded the team that built Microsoft's first Application Management product, leading a team that grew to 20 PMs responsible for Microsoft's server-management products including Operations Manager (now called SCOM).
  • Stockpoint

    I was employee #7 of Stockpoint, a web-based financial information provider. I led web development, managed site operations, and scaled out Stockpoint's SaaS offering. Stockpoint was acquired and is now Dow Jones Client Solutions, part of News Corp.
  • Ask Jeeves

    A part-time college job turned into me being employee #3 at the company that became ask.com. I split my time between pay-the-bills consulting projects and the early AskJeeves.com site. I remember the day our CEO brought the original "butler" art back from the graphic designer. At the time, I thought: "A butler? That's dumb. No one will use that!". ;-)

Product Management Q&A

nerdy hobby projects

other Justin Grants