At ProductCon June 2021, the largest online product manager conference in the world, the CEO of Product School, Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia sat down with MURAL CEO Mariano Suarez-Battan for a fireside chat. MURAL was designed for enabling team collaboration to happen from anywhere, 10 years before the pandemic mandated remote work. Now, after a year of unprecedented growth, MURAL’s momentum shows no signs of slowing down as hybrid work takes hold as a new minimum standard moving forward. In this chat Mariano shares the story of how MURAL was created and how it’s purpose-built for facilitating better product design.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: So let's start from the very beginning. How did you come up with the idea for MURAL?
Mariano Suarez-Battan: 10 years ago, I had a video game company that we eventually sold to Disney. So, while I was starting to design a new game, I was trying to brainstorm in a PowerPoint deck. It was portable, but there was no good way to structure everything. When I was showing people the PowerPoint deck it wasn’t understood as a place to co-create, and it was causing a lot of confusion. I needed a flexible canvas that invited people to collaborate and iterate.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Who were those early adopters who found value in the beginning?
Mariano Suarez-Battan: At first, we were marketing MURAL for anyone to use. But consumers didn’t stay engaged on MURAL for long. Then we noticed a group inside IDEO focusing on solutions in the workplace. So, we reached out to them and realized that they were taking advantage of the whiteboard and adding methodology frameworks to it for sharing ideas. We realized we needed to be for design thinking teams. Soon after, we were introduced to Tim Brown, IDEO CEO, and Phil Gilbert, the former general manager for design at IBM. What we learned from talking to them was that design groups are evangelists of design thinking across an entire company and can help improve experience design throughout an organization.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: I'm not a designer, but I was looking for a visual way to communicate with designers and other stakeholders. And for me, what was really powerful is that I was able to do so without opening an instruction book.
Mariano Suarez-Battan: At MURAL, we talk about imagination a lot. Everyone has imagination, they just need a place to build and flex that muscle.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Guide me through that moment where you are elevating MURAL beyond just the set of features to drive change at an enterprise level.
Mariano Suarez-Battan: Something that I joke around with my sales people, is that we don't sell tools. So there are a series of tools inside our software, but ultimately what people are trying to do is improve how they move from idea to finished product. MURAL is providing a space to co-create, along with methodologies, templates, and a network of facilitators to enable running more efficient meetings.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: For companies that are accustomed to working in-person, how do you go about helping them embrace this new way of work?
Mariano Suarez-Battan: Last year, they didn't have an option. They had to adapt really fast. It forced us all to think about how we use our time together. We were already ready to support large enterprises in deploying this new way of working right before the pandemic. MURAL has best practices built-in for running more effective team meetings, which includes both making progress on a project and making it comfortable and accessible for all team members to participate. There’s also the flexibility that allows for asynchronous work across distributed teams now that so many people are feeling exhausted from video conferencing.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: What does the next year look like for the future of work?
Mariano Suarez-Battan: We support remote work, and there's been many predictions that it's here to stay. Why? Because global companies had been doing this already to a certain extent before, and now more people have become confident that they can do a lot of their work remotely.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: How can managers adopt meeting best practices today without having to get their CFO to sign a big contract?
Mariano Suarez-Battan: I believe that recurring revenue only comes from recurring impact. We’ve changed our prices and packaging to remove all friction in the beginning and help people get to an aha moment. They can pick up MURAL and try it out today.
Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Thank you so much for your time.
Mariano Suarez-Battan: Cheers.
*This interview has been abridged and edited for clarity.
If you haven’t yet collaborated visually with your team using MURAL, you can join for free today and see where it takes you. Product teams use MURAL to solve customer problems, power up Agile workflows, master design thinking, and more. Learn more about MURAL for product teams here.