Advisor Case Study: A Vision Worth Sharing

Ben Foster February 3 2021

The following is adapted from Build What Matters. 

When I first met James Quigley, the co-founder and CEO of GoCanvas, we talked for a while, and at the end of our discussion, he boldly declared that I would work for him one day. I politely told him I appreciated the sentiment but had no plans to leave the advisory practice I’d started.

For the next two years, I advised GoCanvas on several fronts: team growth and hiring plans, organizational structure, product design, and pricing. It wasn’t until we began working on a customer-centric product vision that I, as an outsider, finally understood the magnitude of the opportunity for GoCanvas.

The product already helped mobile workforces digitize their data collection processes (invoices, inspections, timecards, etc.), and the vision answered the question, “How could we help customers grow their businesses, keep employees safer, and improve the experience for their customers by allowing them to do more with the data they are already collecting?”

But it did much more than that. Indeed, the product vision was inspiring enough that GoCanvas became an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up, and though two-and-a-half years earlier, I wouldn’t entertain the possibility, I excitedly joined the company in 2018 as their first Chief Product Officer. The same vision contributed to a later investment from top-tier private equity firm K1 and several excellent senior hires. That’s the magic of a compelling vision grounded in customer value: it turns heads and changes minds.

The only downside was having to hear James say, “I told you so,” while introducing me to the company on my first day.

Written by Ben Foster

Ben is a co-founder of Prodify and Principal Product Advisor / Coach. In his career, he has been the Chief Product Officer at WHOOP and GoCanvas, the VP of Product & Design at Opower (which went public in 2014) and previously worked for Marty Cagan at eBay.

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