Michelle Tandler joined Thumbtack in December. Her work on the Category Management team helps ensure that pros across all Thumbtack service areas are able to switch to (and succeed) on Instant Match, which started rolling out in September 2017. Here’s why Michelle decided to join Thumbtack, in her own words.
Tell us a bit about where you were in your career when you started interviewing at Thumbtack.
Well, this is a tricky question because I actually interviewed with Thumbtack twice! The first time was in 2011 when the team consisted of 10 people working in a one-room office at Natoma and 6th. I had read about the company while living in New York, asked a friend for an introduction to Marco, and found myself visiting for spaghetti lunch a few weeks later. After lunch Marco showed me the live requests coming into Thumbtack.com. There were dozens per minute, across such a breadth of services — my attention was captured immediately. I wanted to join the team, but they were in the middle of raising a Series A, and requested that I wait a few months until it was finalized. I ended up joining another tech company a few blocks away, Yammer.
Fast forward six years — I had recently left my job in venture capital and was debating what to do next. I did a lot of thinking about what mattered to me most, and realized that many of the themes I had felt passionately about back in 2011 (e.g., marketplaces that connect people and information, creation of jobs and economic opportunity, innovation within analog industries) still inspired me. Once I came to that determination, it was a no-brainer to get back in touch with Thumbtack.
Why Thumbtack? What do you remember about making the choice?
As a former history major and management consultant, I’ve always been captivated by seemingly intractable problems, and Thumbtack has been going after one of the biggest, most complex industries out there. While the opportunity seems straightforward (e.g., how hard can it be to digitize the way customers find, connect with and hire local pros?) it is extremely complex. Reaching SMBs isn’t easy, nor is balancing supply and demand, matching each job to the appropriate pros, and ensuring everything runs smoothly and securely across over 800 different service categories. During the interview process I met with people who were similarly excited and inspired by the scale and complexity of the opportunity Thumbtack was addressing. It was in meeting those individuals that I knew I wanted to join the team.
Was it a tough decision? What weighed into your considerations?
While I had originally set out in my search to join a Series A or B company, I soon realized that joining a team that inspired me, and working on a product I felt passionately about was more important than what “number” employee I was. I wanted my work to have impact, and the idea of working for a company with product/market fit in a massive industry with essentially uncapped opportunity to add value really resonated with me.
Additionally, throughout the interview process I became increasingly excited about the work. My favorite activity was tackling a “homework” assignment in which I was asked to analyze a bunch of quantitative and qualitative data about the interior design category. I was then prompted to generate insights, and suggest potential product changes that would address key issues. It was a fascinating exercise that reminded me of how much I had loved my work on the Product team at Yammer (an enterprise social network that was acquired by Microsoft in 2012). I was almost sad to turn it in because I wanted to keep working on it!
What was your first week like at Thumbtack?
A whirlwind. My new manager put together an onboarding plan that had me meeting with various people across the Category Management team and broader company every 30 minutes for three days straight. It was intense, but informative and interesting. I then attended “Thumbtack University” (our introductory three day course about Thumbtack for all new hires) — hosted in my favorite conference room at the office, “Puppy Training.”
What was your first project? What are you most excited about moving forward?
For Q1 I’ve been tackling 16 categories in the events vertical to get them ready to launch on Instant Match. This means diving in to understand how these pros run their businesses — and most importantly — how they price. I’ve been on the phone with tarot card readers, clowns, karaoke machine rental companies and more. It’s been eye opening to talk to people across the country working hard to provide services that their customers love, and inspiring to see how passionate they are about what they do. I’m really excited to see Thumbtack help them build their businesses, bring their creativity and hard work into the world, and execute on their dreams.