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Hi, I’m the new product person at Wildbit

Hello! My name is Rian and I’m a new Product Manager on the Wildbit team. I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, and I now live in Portland, OR with my wife and two, uh, “spirited” daughters. It’s been a long journey to get here—it included a stint in Perth, Australia (where I met my wife), several years living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a 4-year period back in Cape Town. But Portland is now home, and will be forever (I hope).

My background is a little weird... After studying Engineering and Information Science I got bitten by the internet bug and haven’t recovered since. I spent my career going back and forth between roles focused more on user experience design & research and product management, yet Product is my true love. In 2014 I published an extended love letter called Making It Right: Product Management For A Startup World. During that time I also made a list of what I think my perfect job would look like. The list had crazy expectations like this on it:

  • A small, product-focused company.
  • A dedicated team with very little ego and a singular passion to make great products that solve real problems.
  • A team that hasn’t had a product management role before, but is at the right place in their journey for that to be a useful addition to help the business grow.
  • Founders who are invested in the success of the team and the product, and above all, who are people. Real, human, nice people who care about things.
  • Work from my basement so I’m able to spend more time with my family, and also take our kids to school more often.

The list seemed pretty impossible, so I was willing to be extremely patient with it. I thought it would happen in about two or three years, and I was okay with that. But then something happened. CB (who I only know from the internet) introduced me to Natalie and Chris. From the very first call I had with them I felt that this company was different and I should pay close attention. The first thing that struck me immediately was that we share a common product worldview. We believe in being market-focused, we believe in quality, we believe in small teams who work collaboratively. I also noticed immediately how important the team is to them. They believe that good products flow from happy teams and work environments, and I couldn’t agree more.

We talked for a few months (we also believe in not rushing things…), and then finally met up in Portland, OR to get real about stuff. They met my wife, which made her feel comfortable with the whole thing, and I got to a point where I realized I had no choice: my 2-year plan had to turn into a tomorrow plan.

This is kind of a long background story, but I think it’s important because it all leads up to what I see as my responsibility to the team and the products we make. So all this to say that I don’t take this opportunity and amazing team for granted. I commit publicly to my team and to our customers that I will never lose sight of what we’re here for—to build products that make their lives easier, and to contribute to doing it in an environment that allows us as a team to do the work of our lives (to steal a phrase from our values).

I’m so excited to be here. I look forward to meeting the team in person, to talk to our customers and understand what’s important to them. I look forward to contributing to the products we make. This is going to be fun.