On founder learnings, product roadmaps, and customer acquisition with Jack Altman, CEO and co-founder of Lattice

Jack Altman, co-founder and CEO of Lattice

I spoke with Jack Altman, co-founder and CEO of Lattice, the people management platform empowering companies to build engaged, high performing teams, inspire winning cultures, and make strategic decisions. Lattice raised their Series D led by Tiger Global earlier this year.

Jack and his co-founder came up with the idea for Lattice after realizing they were not employing the optimal management tactics at their former company. With Lattice, they aimed to create a way to systematize leadership and culture and empower companies at scale. They started with goal setting, then added performance management, and evolved to more product offerings over time.

Jack shared his advice for founder learnings, product roadmaps, leadership, and early customer acquisition.

Try to flatten your founder learning curve. Every founder needs to be at least moderately competent at a crazy number of tasks (from storytelling to people management to marketing and more). No founder is truly ready on day 1 but prior work experience or other intentional preparation can help in having fewer tasks to learn on the job.

Use reading to supplement, not replace. Nothing actually compares to doing. Through learning by doing, you learn more quickly and retain the skill for a longer time. Reading should merely be a supplement to your learning, not a replacement or even essential component.

Empower team leaders to see themselves as teachers. In the remote world, crucial apprenticeship and mentorship relationships are more difficult to create. Spontaneous relationships are no longer formed, and organic interactions are harder to come by. At Lattice, Jack empowers his team leaders to see themselves as teachers and be intentional and go out of their way to be great mentors for their team members.

Find your ideal product development pace. The conventional wisdom from VCs is that founders should focus on one particular product feature, get it perfect, and then expand to other offerings. While this may work for some companies, it is not a one size fits all and truly depends on the market and buyer personas. In Lattice’s case, their focus was on providing an effective bundle for companies because companies have a diverse set of needs, so for Lattice, it made sense to launch new products quickly and sometimes simultaneously even in the early days.

Jack shared more of his thoughts on product bundling in HR here.

Move from building a product to building a company. Ali Rowghani at Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund shared a memorable piece of insight on the 2nd job of the founder: that of a company builder instead of a product builder. Founders start off as product builders but as the company grows, they need to transition to company building. Their mindset shifts to setting up a machine where people enjoy working and are empowered to create and innovate. This transition is much easier said than done. Many mental shifts must take place in letting go of the instinctive need to know or be involved in everything.

Prioritize product feedback over contract size in the early days. Companies are like compounding locomotives. There is initial inertia but once the train starts moving, it develops a life of its own. To overcome this initial inertia, you frequently have to do things that do not scale. To find the first few customers, founders have to do whatever it takes, whether it is going to conferences, content marketing, or cold emailing. With these initial customers, you should prioritize product feedback to be able to create a product that truly resonates with the market.

Trust your gut. In the early days of Lattice, Jack spent ~9 months pushing on a product that ultimately did not have product market fit. His gut told him to pivot, but others around him told him not to give up. In hindsight, Jack would focus less on the prevailing wisdom from others around him and instead be primarily guided by his instincts and nuanced understanding of the company.

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