Jen Thoroughgood is the Chief Product Officer of Zapnito.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
My dad ran a small publishing company, so I grew up copyediting, packing magazines in boxes, and taking subscription orders. I never wanted to do anything else.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Our customers are my priority, so I always start the day by working on the things they need from me. The rest of the day will be a balance of product management — research, feature scoping, testing, and roadmap planning, customer account management — everything from replying to support tickets to working with our customers on product strategy, to helping run the business with Zapnito’s co-founders Charles and Jon. Working in a start-up means no job is too small or too big and there is a lot of variety, which I like as I’m easily bored.
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)
Nothing happens in my world unless it is on Trello. We run our agile development process and customer support using it, accompanied by Zendesk for support ticketing, and my own to-do list is Trello-based. GoSquared is essential for user analytics and marketing automation. Slack for team communications and Google Drive. My life is run by Google. We use our own Knowledge Networks platform for networking and marketing, including for video calls. We’ll probably move off Slack when we launch our ‘conversations’ feature this month.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
I read — Digiday and Nieman Lab are favorites for understanding the opportunities and challenges faced by our customers. I try to keep up to date with new software using Product Hunt (but there is a lot out there). But perhaps most importantly, I speak to our customers and do market research to understand them and their customers. There’s no substitute for the unfiltered feedback you get.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
I’m not a fan of pithy quotes, to be honest. Social media has made even the most profound statements seem trite. This Wired piece on Facebook is the best thing I have read in ages. I’ve read it three times now. There is so much in there for our publishing customers, for us as a software company and for me as a Facebook user (albeit a very occasional, reluctant one).
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
I’m lucky that our customers are always publishing fascinating things on their sites. I’m particularly enjoying Springer Nature’s Grand Challenges site right now, it’s all about how to tackle some of society’s biggest problems.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
Part of our reason for being at Zapnito is to fight back against the very worrying anti-expert trend we have seen over the past few years. We really need to get back to trusted sources of expertise.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?
Learn to code. Media and technology firms will continue to converge and you’ll be at a big advantage if you understand what the developers are talking about. I am getting better but a lot of it is still Greek to me.