Reef Technology CTO on Evolving Product Strategy in a Time of Crisis
Matt Lindenberger is currently the CTO at Reef Technology, which transforms static parking facilities into thriving mobility and logistical hubs. He has extensive management and entrepreneurial experience including multiple mergers and acquisition transactions - the most recent of which resulted in a public offering on NASDAQ.
Matt recently joined Products That Count for a lively presentation hosted by James Gray, Products That Count CPO, Microsoft Product Lead, and the Head of our Austin Chapter. His presentation addressed a topic at the forefront of everyone’s mind in 2020: amidst a global pandemic, with swinging markets wrought with unpredictability, how do product leaders evolve product strategy to not only survive but thrive?
There’s no doubt about it, 2020 has been full of curveballs. With markets yo-yoing and the rules of business operations changing by the week, most companies are grateful to simply have the doors open. Yet Matt Lindenberger, REEF Technology CTO, found ways to scale unimaginable growth across 18 different markets all in under a year. Driven from a core philosophy that “tech solves problems, and those problems are for people”, Matt shared how evolving product strategy to create new brands drove new business in a time of crisis.
On evolving product strategy to meet market needs
All industries were forced to adapt this year, and while an external catalyst may have ignited the change, it was core business philosophies that led it. Repeatedly, Matt emphasized that as you evolve your product strategy, the job of a product leader remains the same. Meet the needs of the consumer, even if that means creating new brands. Breaking that down, he shared how by leveraging existing logistics he was able to find cross-industry applications for new avenues of profit.
“We started with our core product philosophy and we started experimenting. Meaning, we asked ‘where is the need’, what is the real pain point in the market right now? Because the needs were changing. People didn’t want to go to grocery stores anymore and nobody knew what was gonna happen. So, we took all the learnings that we had on a kitchen business, this very complex use case, and we adapted our vessels to become grocery vessels. Then, we adapted our operations to resupply things like toilet paper, which was the number one demand. That way, we were able to procure and bring to market the critical things that people needed.”
“What we did is we literally created a brand called Stock-Up Mart. You see, the amazing thing about being digital is that we can create these brands and we can put them out there and take orders, and it’s fully digital. Now, our supply chain is physical, but our marketplace is digital.”
On the value of proximity
When it came to evolving product strategy, this year truly boiled down to proximity. Matt learned quickly that in a time of crisis, consumers were looking to fulfill their needs in the fastest way possible. What that means is when your customer can’t come to you, it’s time to go to your customer, and the closest option wins.
“We started with proximity, and then leveraged our staff and our technology to bring these new things to market. And we did it extremely fast. Since we had the muscle memory of how to deploy things quickly, we also knew how to deal with supply chain problems quickly. That allowed us to create these storefronts and concepts by leveraging our existing capabilities to bring things to market. So we created Stock-Up Mart. We used our proximity to do grocery delivery while leveraging our existing technology, and developed new processes.”
“Here’s another example of what we did. We took that same concept and through iteration we found that not only do people need basics like groceries, they also want ice cream. So, we created a brand called Neighborhood Scoops. Of course, we had to evolve our product strategy to solve new problems like freezer management. In the end, we created a new brand and a digital storefront and successfully brought it to market. By leveraging proximity, we were able to meet consumers at their time of need, even if that meant at 10 pm.”
On doing well by doing good.
It’s difficult to design towards cross-industry product application, however, opportunities lie in adaptation. Matt found that by staying true to core principles amidst evolving product strategy, they were able to find new product applications, and do good for the community.
“It doesn’t stop there, right? We called for municipalities to help us because we realized there were other needs. Not just grocery convenience, or kitchen and delivery, but there was a need for testing. Our whole country was in trouble with testing. So we saw an opportunity for us to do well by doing good, a principle at the core of our company. We truly believe that you can do well by doing good.”
“We took our concept of the vessel and partnered with one of the largest laboratories in the country. Then, we evolved our product strategy for healthcare. We designed a healthcare vessel, and like before, leveraged our logistics and staff. Now we have over 30 testing sites operational across the country. Of course, when you think about healthcare, testing is just the beginning. But you start by meeting the consumer at their time of need.”