How solving complex product problems led me to launch Groopit

By Tammy Savage
How do we build great products people love? It’s a simple question. Yet, often a complex problem to solve.

As a product leader at Microsoft, I found one of my biggest problems was getting high-quality product feedback from employees who talk to customers every day. Sure, the loudest and most connected employees were heard, but that often resulted in cherry picking product feedback and making decisions based on influence versus information. It’s an issue I’ve seen countless leaders struggle with; one that makes building great products people love harder and slower than it needs to be. The problem is not with the leaders, it’s with the systems they are forced to use. My frustration turned into an obsession, so I left Microsoft and founded Groopit. This is my story.

At Microsoft, I inherited the design of over 100 internet services and faced this exact challenge. My job was to transform the siloed products to operate as three unified suites known today as the Windows Internet Services, Bing, and MSN. Every service was designed, built, marketed, sold, and supported as separate products which resulted in constrained resources, adoption, usage, net promoter scores, and ultimately revenue. The only consistent area of growth: frustration.

The challenge was in figuring out what to do and how to do it. The data I needed to make decisions existed in the minds of thousands of people working in different departments, locations, and systems. But, even at a company like Microsoft, we were cobbling together the information from people through email, chats, surveys, shared spreadsheets, meetings, and data already shared in CRM. The data was everywhere and nowhere. It was ad-hoc data collection chaos.

My leadership team and I needed to understand the product pain points our key stakeholders and customer-facing employees were seeing. And, we needed to understand it with precision because misdiagnosing problems and the root causes slows down product development. I gathered the data relentlessly

Once I identified the top ten product priorities, I had to get everyone else aligned. Every leader knows this is a new level of pain, largely caused because the data collection process is opaque. My leadership team and I were the only ones learning in-the-moment and developing a big picture view. 

The chaos continued because building great products people love is not an event, it’s a process. There was always a new set of data needed. As we moved into action, I needed to know what was slowing down progress, where were the opportunities for innovation that needed to be resourced, where are we seeing success.

Ultimately we transformed the silos into three suites that each grew into $1B businesses. Through the process, I found a technology gap for leaders and I left Microsoft to start Groopit.

I built Groopit to be the ultimate way for leaders to make better, faster decisions informed with real-time data from the front lines. For product leaders, that means getting real-time product feedback from employees who talk to customers every day. Groopit replaces data collection chaos and streamlines data sharing into one lightweight workflow, so we can outperform, out innovate, and out smart our competitors – building great products people love.