Get to know Logan Childers, dog lover and Unqork Go-to-Market Product Operations Specialist.
Let’s start with the basics—tell us about what you do at Unqork!
I’ve been a Go-to-Market (GTM) Product Operations Specialist with Unqork for about a year and a half. GTM Product Operations Specialists play a few different roles in the organization, so we might work on things like template initiatives, marketplace initiatives, and snippets that you see on our platform. More recently though, we’ve really started focusing on developing more products with Unqork.
If you think about all the clients we work with at Unqork and all of the products that we’ve built, you can typically identify a lot of general themes. Everything is very complex and customized—but at the same time, almost all of our clients are going to do some sort of account onboarding, for example.
Our team helps build these really universal use cases so that we can offer product accelerators with 80% of the configuration already finished. From there, all the client needs to do is add custom integration or anything else specific to their company. Each GTM Product Operations Specialist commits to one product and we kind of “own” that product, but we also have some smaller efforts on the side.
That’s amazing—do you think Unqork set out to pursue productization from the very beginning or is it something that came about as a result of the patterns you were seeing with clients?
I would say it’s something that we saw from the beginning—the GTM Product Operations team was kind of born to identify those reusable use-cases. That being said, it’s definitely been accelerated in the past few months because of COVID-19.
COVID was a real learning experience for our team because we typically aren’t a part of the delivery efforts—but when COVID hit, it was all hands on deck. I started working on the Washington, DC Food Initiative Project, which I loved because it taught me a lot about end-to-end software development and how to deliver something to a client. Now we can take all that we’ve learned from COVID and put that into our product development lifecycle.
Would you say that Unqork is working toward a future where everything can be offered as an off-the-shelf product, or is there always going to be a “build from scratch” element?
I think we’ll definitely strike a balance. We can’t build every product that the platform is capable of achieving, so there will always be custom implementations around specific use cases. I’d say about 50% of what we build with our client partners becomes a reusable use case that other players in the space can utilize. So I think there will definitely be a balance between the two—and with enterprise license agreements, companies can truly run wild and build exactly what they need.
How much time do you save by using a pre-built use case vs. building a custom no-code application?
If I had to give a rough estimate, I think it probably cuts project time by 75%. I would say that if you start with an Unqork off-the-shelf product, you could go live in a month—maybe even less, but that’s a conservative estimate.
What’s really been fun with these productization efforts is that we’re building to be super flexible. There isn’t a lot of custom implementation, so the customer won’t have to go into the back-end of Unqork and change anything. They’ll be able to just make all of their changes with a very intuitive and easy-to-use UI.
Let’s rewind a little bit—what did you do before you joined the GTM Product Operations team at Unqork?
I used to work at a freight forwarding start-up in the Bay Area. I worked on the pricing operations team, so we were working on building out our freight marketplace. If you think about how much it costs to ship goods from China to the U.S., the price is based on which transportation option you choose. To give customers visibility, all of those options needed to be loaded into our marketplace. It was a very volatile market that was constantly fluctuating with supply and demand, so we had to update the marketplace very, very quickly. I was a self-taught coder, and I learned a lot about software development and ETL in general.
"When I came across Unqork I just felt like, 'There’s no way a platform can be this flexible!' Honestly, I tried to break it. I really just loved how flexible the platform was, and I knew I wanted to learn more."
When I found Unqork, it was really refreshing because the nature of freight forwarding meant that things at my previous role were very rigid. You could only really work with the set of variables or parameters that you were given, and trying to factor in another variable was challenging. We were very locked into what we could do, so we would often hack the system a little bit to figure out the best, most creative thing we could build and sell to the customer.
When I came across Unqork I just felt like, “There’s no way a platform can be this flexible!” Honestly, I tried to break it. I really just loved how flexible the platform was, and I knew I wanted to learn more.
Does being a self-taught coder help you appreciate no-code a little more?
Yes, definitely. I appreciate no-code a lot more because it just opens up so many possibilities to anyone who wants to explore. As someone who was self-taught, I understood basic data types, data structures, and very basic functions—all those things you would learn in a CS 101 class. In a no-code environment, I was able to take those basic frameworks and just hit the ground running. If you load up a module in Unqork, unless you choose to start from a template, it’s a blank canvas. You can start dragging and dropping and let your imagination run wild.
While teaching myself how to code at Flexport, I had to be super creative with my problem solving. I had to think very critically about how to approach problems given certain constraints or requirements. From there, once I was able to remove the extra barrier of knowing how to code implementations at Unqork, it really let me have fun with the platform and what I was building.
Can you tell us a little about the Workforce Resiliency project?
We built the Workforce Resiliency solution to be extremely robust and flexible. Any company can take this solution and tailor it to their own integrations or requirements, and the platform will be able to handle all of those things. This was strictly an internal build—which meant we didn’t have to adhere to specific client requirements—instead, we were pulling from experience to build something that would meet many different clients’ requirements. It’s been really fun to have product brainstorming sessions and work together to build something really robust.
Watch the brief demo of our Workforce Resilience solution featuring some of Logan's no-code handiwork.
I would add that building the Return to Work solution required a bit of a mentality shift. We had to make a strong application that would have longevity for years and years, but that would also have applicability beyond just COVID—because the larger story here is about workforce resilience around any type of incident or natural disaster. We wanted to make sure this product would last beyond when this pandemic becomes, hopefully, a distant memory.
To wrap things up with a fun question, do you have any stories to share about Unqork culture?
I’m sure you get this from everybody you interview with, but I’ve never met a group of people who are so smart. Everyone is very technical to some degree, and it’s awesome to learn from everyone’s expertise and backgrounds—but what people probably don’t talk about as much is that everyone is also very fun. At any type of virtual happy hour or team building event, you really get to know people’s personalities, which is amazing.
If I had to share one story, there’s definitely one memory that sticks out. A year ago, when I was brand new to the company, everyone kept telling me to sign up for the Costume Swap. Basically, you draw someone’s name from a hat and then you get them a costume for Halloween that they have to wear—and someone does the same for you.
I’m brand new, and I’m thinking, “What is someone going to know about me to pick a really funny, good costume?” I have two dogs, so someone ended up getting me a corgi jumpsuit, corgi slippers, and I think one other dog-themed thing. I used to wear my corgi slippers at my desk in the office, and I’ve been really missing them ever since we started working remotely. Just seeing what everyone came up with for each other in the Costume Swap, it was a hoot. It was the best day ever.
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