Jack Altman

Cofounder of Lattice. Previously VP of BD at Teespring and Seed Stage Investor

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON June 21, 2016

Discussion

Jack Altman@jack_altman
I'm Jack Altman, cofounder of Lattice (latticehq.com), a company that aims to help companies run more effectively through clear goals, communications, and feedback. I love talking about management and startups, but I find a lot of other things interesting too. Ask me anything!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Jack! Congrats on the launch of Lattice. Having founded the company <1 year ago, what's your biggest learning/surprise so far?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@rrhoover you'll like this -- I was honestly shocked at how substantial launching on product hunt was for us. It drove thousands of sign ups and tons of users that have stuck with us and brought their whole teams onto the product. Another big surprise has been how willing potential customers are to help you figure out what to build. Most people are generous and really like young startups, and if people want what you're trying to build for them they will tell you what you need to build to get there.
Scott Levy@sclevy · Biz Ops at Teespring
Hey Jack! My question is: what's the most important thing to focus on culture-wise when building a company in the early stages? What about as it grows?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@sclevy I think one of the most important things with company building, both in the early days and as it grows, is establishing a culture of trust. Generally the best way to do this is by being as transparent and direct as possible (I think there is almost no upper limit on how transparent companies should be, except for a few HR related issues). When people aren't worried about whether or not they have complete information, they tend to focus more on their work and not on worrying about what they do or don't know.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What are the first tabs you open on your computer/phone every morning?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@jacqvon always phone first (of course): email, twitter, calendar, mixpanel
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What are the 3 resources that have most improved your life? (blogs, books, movies, advisors, etc)
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@jacqvon in the past 6 months, @saastr from @jasonlk has been a big new one for me. A lot of people write blog posts that are helpful for big picture thinking but his posts are just so concrete and I find myself using a lot of them in real practice the day or week I read them. Advisors make a massive difference. Naming the specific people probably isn't as helpful as the general point that your world view will end up being highly influencer by the people you spend the most time with / listen to the most carefully. So pick some good people that you want to triangulate yourself between and listen to them carefully!
Syed Ahmed@tabishis · Altimus Solutions, Inc.
Do you think MOOCs will eventually replace traditional learning, specifically tech focused learning? Do you invest in products that are focused on solving problems for MOOC students?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@tabishis I think MOOCs will end up with a dramatically larger share of the education pie than they currently have, but I don't think they will replace traditional or in person education entirely. I haven't before but I think it's a huge market and problem to solve.
Hello Jack how did you decide on your pricing (Lattice)? I did a bit of graph. http://imgur.com/7FoVKv8
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@fillipvt pretty arbitrarily -- we looked at the pricing model of a company we respected and went with some similar. We've gotten feedback that it's confusing so we're going to move to regular per user per month model!
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Hi Jack, Thanks for doing this ProductHunt AMA. I'm curious about your pricing strategy for Lattice. How did you arrive at the current pricing model? What have you guys done in terms of A/B testing and implementing customer feedback into the current pricing structure. $10/month for up to 10 users seems very affordable (maybe even priced too low?), but then your pricing jumps to $75/month for 15 users.
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@tomstocklein pretty arbitrarily -- we looked at the pricing model of a company we respected and went with some similar. We've gotten feedback that it's confusing so we're going to move to regular per user per month model! We haven't A/B tested pricing at all yet, but based just on the confusion around it we're going to move to a flat per seat rate.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
During your career to date, you've so much to be proud of. Is there anything that you regret, or perhaps might have done differently with retrospect?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@ems_hodge my first year out of college I did investment banking, mostly just because it was the thing to do any a lot of people at my school did it. I went into pretty thoughtlessly and for random reasons, and really didn't enjoy it. I've been much better at things I like doing, so instead of trying to map out a 5-10 year career plan I try to ask myself "what would I like to work on when I wake up tomorrow?" and make decisions largely based on that. My hope is that that ultimately makes me happier and more successful!
Karim Daghari@deleted-538914
Hi Jack, thanks for being with us. My questions are, as a seed investor what do you look for in a startup? (Growth? The vision? The business model? The team?), and do you have any advice for solo founders (with no history, i.e first startup) on how to approach (seed) investors?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@karimdaghari broadly, I look at team, market, and product. In general, the earlier the company the more the team matters since you are betting on them to pick a good market and build a good product. I might even look at market more heavily than even team or product once there is a little traction. I think great markets can pull many companies along for the ride and if people really want what the team is building that is such a powerful driver.
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@karimdaghari in terms of solo founders -- first thing is make sure you have a good support network :) startups are hard and if I didn't have @ekosz1 I would probably have gone crazy a couple times by now. In terms of approaching investors, I think it's the same deal. Why is what you're building important, why are you able to do it. Just needs some extra convincing because there's only one of you, so convince them you can recruit a great team.
Laf. Julius@laf_julius · co- founder @evolvesports
What was your best experience with tee spring?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@laf_julius probably launching our partnership with @twitch. The day we launched we had casters selling thousands of awesome teeshirts that we helped them design and the office energy was amazing.
Sarim Haq@sarim_haq · AI Whisperer
Hey Jack, thanks for being with us. I have got a couple of questions: 1. What was your most successful growth hack during the initial days of Lattice? 2. What are your thoughts on A.I. seeping into mainstream apps? If you were to implement ML at Lattice, what problems will you solve? what functions will you optimize? Thanks!
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@sarim_haq 1. we just launched 5 weeks ago and the only marketing we've done so far has been a TC article and PH launch. But we are constantly thinking about ways to make the product useful for small teams and not just whole companies. The new Check-ins feature we launched last week (http://latticehq.com/blog/introd...) has been really successful so far and is useful for just two people, and tends to drive natural spreading. 2. In general, I think AI/ML is hard to implement usefully into mainstream products unless you have massive scale and resources (e.g. Amazon, Netflix seem to do recommendations incredibly well). I think AI is going to work and be transformative (@sama told me I have to say that ) but as of yet I haven't seen many mainstream apps use it effectively. I'd have to think more about how we'd use ML at Lattice -- I could think of couple ideas off the top of my head but none of them are very good :)
Sarim Haq@sarim_haq · AI Whisperer
@jaltma @sama Thanks for the answer! I think now we can stand on the shoulders of giants (google,amazon,Microsoft, etc) and use refined ML algorithms through open source code/APIs.
Eddie Schodowski@eddie_schodowski
What's Lattice's Weissman score?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@eddie_schodowski probably like a 5.00
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Jack thanks for joining today! What's one piece of advice you've received during your career that has really effected you?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@ems_hodge my brother once told me something to the effect of "don't play losing games". People often get so caught up in winning the particular thing they are doing (getting a promotion in their current job, winning a certain award, or whatever else) without asking whether that prize is really one they want to win. I constantly think through this framework and try to almost make sure I'm striving for something that I actually want.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Jack! Going to events/conferences, what are 3 things you always enjoy and 3 you could do without?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@theo_dimarhos I very rarely go to events / conferences. I'm not particularly introverted, but walking around shaking a bunch of strangers' hands is generally exhausting for me. I try to only go when I think I'll know a lot of the people there or if it's very specific to what I'm working on (like an industry or partner event).
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
What are your favorite books on management?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@andrewett embarrassing to even name them because it's such a trope at this point, but High Output Management and The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
@jaltma haha yes yes of course. How about a follow up: which managers have most inspired you?
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
How did you transition from working in finance to leading BD at Teespring to founding Lattice? What were some challenges you were facing? What new skills did you have to quickly acquire when starting each new role?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@tomstocklein each step happened pretty naturally. I was an investor before Teespring, and when I was done with that fund and wanted to work at a startup they were one of the portfolio companies I was most excited about. My cofounder and I were at Teespring when we realized that management could be done much better with a unified tool so we set out to do that. I've never mapped things out too much, and just kept trying to do the thing that felt the most interesting and impactful at each stage.
Hey Jack! Thanks for doing this Live. As a founder and former investor, what do you think aspiring entrepreneurs should look for in a co-founder? Thanks!
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@ekosz1 I would look for someone with cartoon avatar, a love for clean code, and an attitude problem.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@jaltma @ekosz1 major 🔑
Julia Weigel@jgweigel
At what stage in a startup’s life cycle does it make sense to start using lattice?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@jgweigel pretty much as soon as doing good goal setting and management becomes important to keep your company running well! This tends to start around ~20 employees in most cases, and becomes more and more important the larger the company gets.
Corey Hubbard@corey_hubbard · Founder - DreamHighr
Hello Jack and thanks for being with us 2day. What was one of your most embarrassing miscues during the early days of Teespring?
Jack Altman@jack_altman
@corey_hubbard right when I started (end of 2013) we had a big misfire on shipping labels around holiday time, which caused a huge surge of orders to be late. The entire company (literally everyone) spent a full week doing only customer support and other work to get through it. That was a good bonding experience for the team :)