I met Arto Tolonen for the first time when he was building his own startup called Audiodraft. He co-founded it and worked as a Chief Technology Officer for over four years. In addition, Arto has coached plenty of startups in Finland and worked at Reaktor as a Senior Consultant. He returned to the startup circles last month and now works as a Product Lead here at Smartly.io. I decided to challenge him with some questions.
What does your title Product Lead at Smartly.io really mean?
“I work with all the different stakeholders of Smartly.io to specify the most important things we should develop. There’s a whole bunch of people who use Smartly.io daily for their work and we get tons of qualitative feedback to go through. One of the most important things for me is to keep our roadmap updated and prioritised so that our developers can focus on building the best possible product.”
Why did you return to the startup life?
“I love to focus on long-term product development. Having your own product is the best way to have a long-lasting relationship with your work. I have never seen a company that collects as much qualitative customer feedback as Smartly.io does. It really fascinates me and helps us to be a customer-centric company. In addition, Smartly.io, as a company, is at a very interesting stage: it’s a young startup and a growth company at the same time. I couldn’t reject this opportunity.”
How different is it to work in startups compared with more established companies?
“My passion is to challenge myself by trying out new things. And you have to learn new things all the time in a startup. The best way to grow as a person is to do things with people who are smarter than you. It’s a cliché, but you learn best by doing.”