Epi. 48: Learn How to Streamline with SaaS Product Portfolio Management – Maziar Adl, Co-Founder and CTO of Gocious

Learn more about Gocious at: www.gocious.com

Find Maziar Adl on LinkedIn here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/maziaradl/

JC: Welcome everybody to another episode of The Future of BizTech. I’m your host, JC Granger and I have another fantastic guest with me on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following the podcast wherever you’re listening. Be sure to give it that five star review preferably with some nice comments in there that always helps the algorithms because that is how techies like you and me can find cool podcasts like this and today I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the Co-Founder and CTO of Gocious, Maziar Adl. Maziar, thank you so much for coming on the show. Tell the audience a little about yourself, and what is it that you and Gocious do?


Maziar: Thank you for having me. Sure. Well, we are Gocious and our main purpose is to help product managers and product management teams in general. But mostly our focus is in hardware, manufacturing, and industries that produce physical products. I come mainly from a consulting background, I spent many years consulting multiple companies and made from Fortune 500, to smaller companies. And my background started with graduating right out of college from industrial engineering, helping supervise an opening of the plant. And then from there, I finished my graduate studies and then went into consulting. And I’ve been doing Business Information Systems pretty much ever since. And that’s been ages. Now. I think it’s, you know, probably more than a decade that I’ve been doing this, and I love to work. And when this opportunity came to start this startup, it kind of brought a lot of my background together. I’m a very passionate believer of what Gocious is doing at the moment in general.


JC: Well, that’s awesome. And I love startups. I really do. But and how long is Gocious been around though?


Maziar: So Gocious has been around since 2018. 2018 really, it was just putting the ideas together, it was sketches. First people showed up late in 2018. So we can say, really, the operation started from second half of 2018. And then ever since we’ve been working to build the platform and the product lines for our customers.


JC: Okay, well, let’s talk about that. First, let’s talk about who is your perfect kind of, you know, type of customer, whether it be industry or size, or what you know, or what they’re doing, and then also kind of give us, paint us the picture, what is it like to use Gocious, right, like, you know, who are the people using it? And what are they getting out of it?


Maziar: So the mission of Gocious in general, is to help companies to put products that customers love in the hands of those customers as soon as possible with high quality, so you’re not essentially cutting corners, you’re giving good quality product to customers, but you’re doing it in a shorter amount of time. And you’re sure that that’s what the customers want. The way our platform works, meaning we provide a SaaS platform for these companies to utilize specifically for the product management and the extended team. And usually extended team is most of the company. So you have to talk to engineering, you know, project management, and so on and so forth. And the key is, for us to sweet soft spot are people who have, you know, a physical product coming to market, they’re basically on the hardware side of things. They’re not just product producers of software, those are sweet spots. And because we enable the tracking of configuration, Rise of the features and sun.. sunsetting the features and working on what configurations and what products and product lines meets best the needs of the market at the time. So from that perspective, from a hardware manufacturing perspective, it’s an ideal situation, or ideal solution price.


JC: And what motivated you to to help start the company? I mean, I find that most businesses are born out of frustration. Right? So like, what was not happening in the industry. And you said, Forget this, we have to we have to do something about you know, you and your partners or whatnot, like just what motivated you to even create a platform to help with this?


Maziar: That’s a great question, you know, you know, coming out of Industrial Engineering, then consulting with Fortune 500s, a lot of them were manufacturing, you know, companies also, one of the things that you realize in manufacturing is they initially advanced quite a bit from the days of Ford assembly line all the way to the 90s. And they were spearheading pretty much every other industry, including software industry. And then suddenly something happened if you go back and look at the textbooks and the things that they’re teaching and the methods that they’re following. It’s still a little bit frozen in time. In other words, they’re not moving fast enough to kind of improve their processes. Whereas in the case of software things, you know, improved in an exponential way. They implemented agile they got results out of it and they’re continuously that By bringing time to collapsing the time to market building larger scale software at shorter amount of time. So, to me, the question was, hey, how do we solve this problem? It seems like it’s kind of starting to go in a bit of a grind in the manufacturing sector, how do we improve manufacturing, bring some of these agile practices that actually the roots of it was in manufacturing advancements, and put it back into manufacturing, and make the time to market shorter, and make sure the products go to market with more customer centric perspective, how can we make that happen in manufacturing, if you think about it, in say, auto industry, sometimes manufacturing takes five to 10 years to plan a product from concept and finally get it in the hands of the customer. So the question is, how you dead that cycle? How to bring these new practices in place? And can we kind of click it for manufacturing and move it forward? There’s a huge movement in this space, and we’re just one other people in this space.


JC: See, that’s really interesting, because you know, this is that perfect example, where software meets hardware, right? You know, a lot of the people I have on the show, it’s software that meets software, right. And that’s great, you know, it gets a task done the software’s that help in a digital world, whereas you have a digital software that helps in a physical world, which I think is interesting. Now, as far as you know, the type of clients and what not, obviously, there’s gonna be bigger manufacturing plants in electronics, maybe things like that, I imagine pretty much anyone who, who builds things on any kind of line, right? I mean, you guys, do? Would you guys work with any other types of I mean, that’s manufacturing. What about shipping? What about supply chain? You know, that’s a big thing right now that we’re having an issue with it in America, in particular, does your software help with any kind of supply chain management by any chance?


Maziar: Currently, we don’t have any specific capabilities or features that I can’t put my finger on, that’s certainly on one of our items on our radar. Because if you think about it, when a product manager wants to design the neck, or define the next product that should go into the market or the features, one of the things that they have to have in consideration, is the supply chain, can they even get that feature in time for that product? When will that be available? What’s the volumes that it will be available? And you know, in this case, what kind of negotiations do they need to have with the supply side of things? So definitely, it’s on our radar, we don’t have specifically capability at the moment, our focus right now is to understand or give the product management team a complete view of their products. So usually, product managers work on one product at a time. And we want to give them a space where they can coordinate a complete view and say, “Okay, this is the entire portfolio of our products. And these are the modules that have to go on those products”. And they can visualize, or they can imagine that the interdependencies and then have a release plan. So they say, okay, these are the times that these products and modules are going to be available, do they kind of make sense, if there’s a change in that, or the vision business’s vision or the customer’s needs change in the market, or the competition changes, you know, dynamics, then they kind of see the impact on they can track that in this space, those are the focus at the moment, where we kind of see a day that we start going into, okay, what let’s take a look at the needs and the supply lines and have that as a factor in this, you know, preparation of the business case on the product map.


JC: Well, it’s good to know, I mean, it’s always good to have kind of that roadmap of sewing what’s coming, you know, in that future side of things. But that doesn’t make sense. Obviously, it is a consideration when even choosing the product, right? I’m a marketing guy by trade. So I was asking a marketing question, you know, what are you guys doing to get yourselves out there? You’re only about Well, I mean, you’re three years old, but you know, depending how you define COVID being chopped into the equation, what are you guys doing in particular that’s been working, and also maybe things that you tried that didn’t work when it came to getting your name out there?


Maziar: Actually two different things or main things, obviously, we kind of have different outlets and different channels to send a message out that A- we exist, that we are a team of, you know, professionals that one way or the other, have background in these industries. And also we have an able team of skilled engineers and marketing sales, you know, company team with Well, good backing from a funding perspective. So that’s to kind of, you know, show that the brand is a good brand, and gained the trust of public we do this through obviously, you know, different layers, the PR firms that we work with the social media, they’re all part of this, you know, building the brand, but putting that in one side, the next angle, the next side of things is just helping not necessarily promote our products per se, but just go to market and explain to hardware manufacturers that we think there’s a better way that there’s opportunities here. And the software industry has tested this Agile methodology. And now hardware manufacturers little by little, are adopting it to kind of expedite that and then broaden the view. So I don’t want to say educate the market, but it’s a little bit education, but it’s kind of like opening their eyes to say, Hey, did you know for example, these guys in hardware are starting to adopt them, they’re starting to get results. And by the way, in the end, here we are, we’re trying to help and be part of this movement, we think this is the right direction. And we think that’s going to shape the future of manufacturing in general. So you know, kind of promote that angle of things and bring some, you know, education or bring some news to the market. And then in the end, of course, we have things like webinars, you know, we explain our product on our website, to kind of explain what specifically we’re doing in this space to help manufacturers.


JC: That’s smart. Webinars can be good, especially if you have a little more of a intricate type of offering, right? That takes a little bit more knowledge to even understand how it integrates. So that’s a smart one. That’s good. So let me I’m gonna switch over real quick, I’m gonna ask you a personal question. What did you want to do like when you grew up, like when you were kid, like, what was your dream? And are you doing it now? And if not, like, how did it you know, what path got you here to own it, you know, to being a Co-Founder of a big tech company?


Maziar: When I was a kid, I kind of knew what I wanted to do when I was growing up. But also, as I grew up, things changed. So you know, it was kind of like in and out. But there’s one moment and I think it was I can’t put my finger on it. But there was a moment that I kind of fell in love with manufacturing in general and industrial automation. And that was when my extended family you know, I come from Iran. In Iran, they were all industrialists, this is before the revolution. And they had private companies, they had factories, but when I was a kid, I didn’t know any of this, you know, I didn’t really know what they’re doing. Until one time I kind of heard about their factories, and I call saw snippets of what they’re doing. And that got me excited. And then one day I was in high school, I was just seeing a video of Sony’s manufacturing plants. And I don’t know why something clicked on. Like, this is the most amazing human endeavor ever. So I just somehow as a kid, that just, you know, click that I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Then fast forward after a couple of years in Iran, actually, microcomputers got introduced really late, because by then the Revolution had happened, the doors kind of closed, and it was almost impossible for a while to know what’s going on outside of the country, and also to get your hands on a computer. So whereas I think in the West, you know, the computers were in there, like Commodore 64, I don’t know if you know about these early ones.


JC: I was an Apple II guy when I first…


Maziar: An Apple II there you go.. during those days, it was in the hands of everybody. But you know, we didn’t see any of that stuff for quite some time years, actually. So one day, I was just, you know, one of my classmates came back to Iran from Europe, I think. And he had a computer called Sinclair Spectrum, and he invited me to his house, and I saw this computer. And that was the second shocking moment. And I’m like, why would anybody want to do anything else, but to play with this computer, you know, that was, I felt like my lifestyle became a single angle, you know, our single dimensional life, you know, just stick with the computer. So those two kind of came together. And I always wanted to be in this business, push it forward, unfortunately, Middle East, you know, being in the Middle East, it’s very hard to make a dent at that was made very hard to make a dent at the time, I decided to pursue my higher education here to kind of find and also see the world as part of it. And then when I came here, you just see the opportunities in front of you. I just fell in love with with the country and the opportunities it presents to you. At the time, I wasn’t crazy about you know, creating a company I wanted to make a dent. I wanted to be part of this movement that you know, everybody’s going into microcomputers, automation, you know, then eventually agile techniques, bringing everything online and on the internet. When I was coming here, it was just starting, there was no e-commerce really at the time. So you know, those things just motivated me to stay I felt like I can have my full potential realized here. So and I stayed. I mean, there was another reason I met my wife also that that kind of ended the story but that’s my journey, I guess. And that’s what made me just fell in fall in love with what I’m doing today. 


JC: Well, and that’s what America is for. Right? I mean, that land of opportunity. If you see some that you want to be with do that there’s anywhere where you can actually, you know, have a chance at and not having to be, you know, pigeon holed in it. This is it. So I think that’s fantastic that you got over here and did that. You bring in flashbacks to me from when I was a kid on a computer, you know, and sitting here I was that kid, you know, like trying to hack AOL when I was 12 in my dad’s basement like that was me, right? Like, you know, he worked for Sun Microsystems for like, 30 years or something. And so, you know, he would bring me on the campus and when I were running cable, because I was small, so I could fit to the walls, and we’re setting up like the Menlo campus in Palo Alto, or in Mountain View is it was one of those and so yeah, I’m I have a big tech background, and just you know, all these, these flashbacks now you got coming to me from, from your story. So that’s really cool. I like asking about the past, because my next question is about the future. Alright, so The Future of BizTech. Right, that’s us. So let me ask you, it’s a two part question. We’ll start with the first one. What is coming? You talked a lot about how, you know, eventually you guys will add some sort of, you know, component, supply chain thing, but that that sounds like it’s way down the road? What’s coming up soon for Gocious? Right? What’s on that roadmap, my audience likes the inside scoop. So what can you tell us? What can they feed us? Feed us the inside scoop.


Maziar: Every day is changing. So don’t hold me on it. But we are currently working in two or three different fronts. As a startup, we can do them all at the same time. So we’re still prioritizing but some of the things that we think are exciting are the first thing is where we are working on competing a space where you can make your business case, this means you can compare your products with the market or competition, you can set your strategy and vision. So what do you want to achieve. And also to kind of compare yourself on price perspective with competition. The other one is we want you to be able to take ideas in, whether it’s ideas for features or new products, to be able to prioritize those ideas on features, and then map a plan and then track the progress from a product perspective. So this is a high level, project management details out every task, if there’s any issues on the budget, or the resources allocated to those tasks, they make adjustments, and their you know, on a day to day looking at how the project is progressing. Product Management doesn’t need to get into those details. But they need to know if the product is going to be finished when the feature is going to be launched. And also to have a saying that they need a feature in a certain time they need a product and a certain time to be launched to meet the business needs and the business objectives. So they need to be in the know of “hey, is anything changing? Because project management is having issues? Or are the dates changing?” And also, can they deliver the things we need delivered in time. So they need to communicate that out to the project management. So I think you know, the important thing for us is to give that space. So right now we’re starting to do sketches on how to take our product to the next level and make sure that we provide the space that you can track the progress of the features, and you can prioritize and decide which ones have to go first and which ones come later from a manufacturing perspective.


JC: Well, I really liked that that market comparison tool that that sounds super useful and actually seems like a really good springboard into when you do eventually, you know, start looking at supply chain stuff, because, you know, seeing what it would look like on the market first comparing prices, like you’re saying, or you know, even distribution, like what’s the volume out there, things like that. That’s a huge deal. So that I think that’s a really cool feature coming down on your roadmap. So thank you for that. So second part of the future question is, obviously, like you said, you’re not the only one in the space, you have competitors, just like anyone else does. Where do you see the industry going in that next five to 10 years? Do you see anything cataclysmic, you know, or huge Community Catalyst? Do you see any kind of regulation or technology or something playing a part in where you and your competitors will be going, you know, when helping out, you know, your client base with the software?


Maziar: I think, you know, if you look at it, manufacturing, is going through a massive shift in the past that say until the EV movement, and you know, maybe the pioneers like Tesla started their movement, manufacturing in these sophisticated industries, like auto manufacturing was a little bit stagnant. It was always icing on the cake, right? There was not fundamental shift on how they did manufacturing. But with these challenges with these new AV companies coming in, and also the you see the pandemic and all these changes that are happening from globalization perspective, manufacturers are going back and revisiting everything they’re doing from ground up. It’s a very opportune time now in parallel with that, compute- cloud computing and IoT and things like that. Digital Twin is creating in what we call Industry 4.0, and that supports the manufacturers by giving them capabilities they wouldn’t even fathom just 10 years ago. So it’s an amazing moment where the motivation is there, the need is there. Now the technology is also coming together. And I think when they come together, they can give manufacturers higher, you know, speed and giving products to market, different ways of entirely working on a product and shipping it to the hands of the public. And also a way that keeps the quality of the products up, but in the same time allows the products to be changed, not just before production, but even after it gets in your hands. And you’re familiar with this, because when you get a laptop, the laptop that you have, you might have your laptop for two to five years. But that laptop that you bought two years ago is not the laptop you have today, because you know, you put applications on it, you keep changing it, you know, Zoom comes out, you know, the whole life changes. So your laptop is just not the same, your cars are starting to look like that, you know, in Tesla, you’re you wake up now your car drives itself because they downloaded a software on it. And I think the products are starting to get to that mall that design thinking is changing. And there’s a lot of work that is done on screens and in virtual reality, prior to actual physical things being built, and shipped to production. So all this is literally changing the face of the manufacturing, there’s a lot of agile techniques coming in into manufacturing. And if 10 years ago, it was not possible. Now with with the technologies of the day, it’s starting to become very possible.


JC: So that’s really fascinating. And I like hearing about that kind of 5-10 year pace. And you know, and sometimes that stuff comes way faster than we think to you know, we talked about a beer in 5-10 years ends up being, you know, two years you like, get these massive leaps, quick question. So you’ve got, you’ve got ton of experience and what you do you have an incredible life story of you and how you got here and what you’re doing. What is probably the best piece of advice that you could give the audience, you know, business wise, right, like, like, if there was one piece of advice, either that you could give or that you were given, you know, what would it be? 


Maziar: I mean, I think, you know, the biggest piece of advice I can tell you, at least from my recent experience is you go in with an idea of a solution to a problem. And I think that when you’re in a startup, you have to keep your ears and eyes open, listen to your prospects, because when you’re starting, you potentially might not have any customers, right? So you’re looking for those first customers, and they might come in and have leads that are very different than what you thought your your company’s product is going to be. And I think it’s very important to listen very carefully on the problems they have, test those problems on that, let’s say a customer has in the market to see where if that problem is, you know, widespread, whether your solution is a good solution, you have to be in a constant pursuit. In other words, don’t be afraid of, you know, watching out understanding what the customer really wants. And then when the time happens pivot. The fix though is you have to have that culture on that staff, when you come to your team and say, Guys, you got to stop what we’re doing, we got to turn a 90 degree and then go this way. Because really, the customer is asking for this and we’re building something else, this is not going to have, you know the impact or the value that the customer perceived. Sometimes if the team is in motion, and they’re going fast, that can be discouraging, so you have to kind of be very transparent explained to them, and show them the communication you’re having with your customers and get the team you know, to come along with you. And kind of explain the direction of the company. I think, you know, having that stance and not being discouraged and keep trying and making sure your failures are short, and you just keep correcting. And going forward. And acknowledging your failures is extremely important. The first product that we had in late prototypes we had in 2018. There are some foundations that still exist, but it’s man is just so different what we’re doing today, it’s not even funny. I think it’s because of a great team that we have in Gocious. We really want to listen to our customers and we want to make a difference for them. So it’s not just about our way or the highway kind of thing, or we set the project and we have to just march down a path. This is about, you know, the mission, which is help people you know, improving their speed improving their communication. And so that would be my first advice to people who start a startup be ready for rapid change.


JC: It’ll hit you like a ton of bricks, that’s for sure. Listen, I love that you came on the show. How can people reach you personally? And then also how do they get to the website or if they own a company that could use this or they want to partner up?


Maziar: So our website is, you know, www.Gocious.com or Gocious.com


JC: How do you spell that?


Maziar: G-O-C-I-O-U-S.com


Maziar: And my email, I’m accessible through my email. So it’s M-A-Z-I-A-R-dot-A-D-L, Maziar.Adl@gocious.com, so I make sure that I respond.


JC: That’s good. Responding is good, right?


Maziar: And you can always find me on LinkedIn. Also, I am active in LinkedIn. So..


JC: I love LinkedIn. I live there. There’s always an open tab for better or worse with LinkedIn for me. Well, for everyone listening out there again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, give a five star rating with some cool writing behind it. So other techies like us can find it enjoy learning about all these amazing and helpful b2b softwares on the market today, Maziar, thank you so much for coming on the show and I really wish you the absolute best in your future endeavors with us.


Maziar: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.


JC: Bye bye.

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