Many startups keep their engineering teams out of the limelight. Not us. Engineering and product development is the lifeblood of what we do. Sure, we love sales and marketing. But building a product to make customers’ lives and businesses better is what really matters. (Just ask our founder, Dusan. While his business card may read “CEO”, he’s a product development and engineering geek at heart!)
We are proud to introduce Jost Novljan, our new VP of Engineering. In this interview, Jost shares why he left a cushy role at a fast-growing SaaS company, why he’s a disciple of product management guru Marty Cagan, and some ideas to make Cleanshelf even more customer-centric.
Hey Jost! Please share some background on your previous role and experience.
I spent the last five years as Director of Engineering at an information security compliance and risk startup called Reciprocity. My team of nearly 40 engineers was spread across Europe, South America and the United States. We were doubling revenue every year; ultimately getting to double-digit million ARR.
There, I proved out the idea of “connected engineering” – bringing together product, support and marketing teams. We hit some ambitious goals around product development, churn, and win rates because of this.
Why join Cleanshelf?
"Our premise is simple: We save companies money, improve security, and boost productivity."
Cleanshelf’s product roadmap is informed by customers’ experience. Everyone says they’re all about the customer – and many are, in some ways. But the customer is central to everything we do here. More here than at any company I’ve seen. Also, the team is excellent technically, the culture is strong and there’s natural alignment across engineering, product, and customer support.
Most important, our product is what we actually sell. We don’t sell a roadmap, promises of future functionality, or abstract benefits. Some companies’ products are just solutions looking for problems. Our premise is simple: We save companies money, improve security, and boost productivity.
SaaS management is a hot topic, how’d you learn about it?
When coronavirus started, my former company looked for ways to reduce expenses. And software spend was an obvious area. I had a spreadsheet to manage the Engineering team’s software licenses, and, naturally, I thought I had it under control. But I didn’t. I realized that if my team was off, others in the company must be struggling too.
I searched and found Cleanshelf. They were the obvious leader in the market. I got excited about the platform and the market opportunity.
You’ve only been here for a few weeks, but what are some of your early dreams for the Cleanshelf platform?
There’s no reason Cleanshelf can’t be a central nexus to manage the enterprise software experience. What if a leader could quickly manage compliance, onboarding and offboarding, software integrations, and procure or negotiate software from a single dashboard? Today, companies are forced to take a piecemeal approach to this using various software and departments.
Silicon Valley product legend Marty Cagan is a hero of yours. How has his philosophies informed the way you work?
First, I believe in a product strategy that emphasizes ease of use and ease of development. We don’t bolt on features because they sound interesting. We focus on the customer – what problems do they have and how do we solve them simply and intuitively?
"I want my engineers to explain in a few seconds what they’re building."
I want my engineers to explain in a few seconds what they’re building. If they can’t explain it quickly, I know that customers won’t understand it either. Complex solutions are hard to maintain and iterate on.
Second, I believe in continuous code delivery. We deliver code multiple times per day. Many companies wait six weeks or more to do a release. Our feedback loops allow us to detect and fix issues fast. This improves product stability and lets us rapidly respond to customers’ needs.
Finally, I believe in ongoing learning. I’ve spent hours with leaders from Google, Atlassian, Uber, BigCommerce and eBay to learn how to build the best technical teams. I also prioritize team training, reading, and mentoring. We even do presentations on random topics that our engineers are passionate about. There’s a reason for this: breadth of knowledge and experience can unlock ideas that narrow specialists won’t recognize.
Anything else you want to share?
I know this isn’t normal for VPs of Engineering, but here’s my email, email@example.com. I care deeply about customer feedback and would love to hear your ideas.
To learn more about managing SaaS spending and subscriptions, set up a demo with the Cleanshelf team today.
Cleanshelf is the leading enterprise SaaS management platform focused on tracking, controlling, and benchmarking SaaS applications. Their SOC 2-compliant and AI-powered technology helps companies save up to 30% on their SaaS spending by automatically identifying unmanaged contracts, duplicate licenses, and wasted cloud software subscriptions. Based in San Francisco, Cleanshelf provides an enterprise-grade solution to over a hundred clients, including Hilton, Looker, and CoStar Group.