Building a Product Team for Cypress

January 30, 2020

By The Cypress Team

World-class organizations aren’t found, they’re made. The teams at companies like Shopify, Stripe, PagerDuty, and Twilio didn’t stumble their way into success. Each of them started from a foundation of a great product vision, market opportunity, and relentless focus on building solutions customers love, and surrounded that with exceptional performers, all aligned to making that reality come to life.

Here at Cypress, we’re looking to follow in those same footsteps. We’re starting from our own rock-solid foundation: our solution shifts application testing from difficult to delightful, tackles a market opportunity that is massive and growing, all while truly embodying #developerlove and the spirit of the open source community. Plus, the founding vision and the aligned team that launched us on this course have set a template to attract the next set of top performers.

Developer love!

That’s why it’s time for us to build our first-ever Product Management team. With our recent Series A funding, we’re expanding our capability through new Product Managers and Product Designers to double-down on crafting tools and solutions that developers love. To do that, we’ll need a host of Product professionals to partner with our formidable Engineering, Marketing, and Developer Experience teams.

Anatomy of a Team

Having built product teams at a number of SaaS companies, I’ve had my share of successes and mistakes along the way. When it works, it really works, and I’ve learned the best teams embody these traits:

Collaborative: if a company is a wheel, the product (and thus Product) is the center of that wheel. The spokes to all the other functions - be it Engineering, Marketing, Sales, etc. - all come together around the product. To that end, great Product teams are highly collaborative, seeking to both listen and ingest thoughts from other teams while also providing support, structure and direction for those same groups, and reflects Cypress’s core value of Transparency. Ultimately, the best ideas can come from everywhere, and the best organizations structure themselves to make that a reality.

Empowered: as Cypress grows and scales, our delivery teams will have to be able to reflect the strategic vision of the company and craft a direction for their products that delivers on that vision. Our Product team will have to take on that challenge, and to do that, we’ll need to empower them to drive each of their products to greater heights. My aim is to create an environment of trust, support and guidance, and ultimately ownership so our team can lead our products into the future.

Biased towards Learning: if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that we’re going to get it wrong sometimes. I’ve never worked on a product that 100% nails it on the first try, every time. That’s why the best Product teams are biased towards learning, iteration, and improvement, taking each insight and quickly applying it to the next phase of development.

Empathetic: the most important tool a product manager has in their toolbox is their ability to listen. Listening comes in many flavors - quantitative research, data and analytics, and good old fashioned talking to customers, to name a few. Ultimately, these tools are all at the service of empathetically understanding your users and stakeholders, and relentlessly solving their problems. That doesn’t necessarily mean doing exactly what they’re asking for, but instead understanding the “why” behind their pain and crafting the right solution for their problem.

Delivery-oriented: ultimately, none of this matters if we don’t deliver better product faster. Our team will orient around urgent decision-making, while ensuring we’re not hasty. We need to understand a problem, but once we do, we’ll move quickly to solve it and solve it well, true to our core value of Craftsmanship. Our unofficial motto: ship, and ship often.

Who We’re Looking For

There are a lot of traits of stellar product people - driven, customer-oriented, empathetic, etc. - but there are a few things that will truly set our team apart:

  • Passion: we spend a lot of time at our jobs. Why not spend time with people who truly care about what they do? Here at Cypress, we want to work with team members who commit and commit passionately.
  • Excellent communication skills: if our team will be representing the hub of their wheel (see analogy above), we’ll need excellent written and verbal communicators to share solution visions and implementation details.
  • Perspective: one of the key things a Product professional has to do is distill all these inputs - opinions, feedback, data, etc. - into a codified plan on how to delight customers and drive the business forward. No easy feat.
  • No jerks allowed: doesn’t matter how good you are, we’re all working towards the same goal. Let’s act that way. One of our core values at Cypress is to create Delight, for both customers and ourselves, and we strive to operate that way day to day.

To make this real, we’re going to need adventurers - people who aren’t afraid to head into the jungle with a machete and clear a path. We’re about to go on a wild ride, and we’ll need Product Managers and Designers to make that happen. Come join us!