Alexander Schwertner, Product Manager in Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada
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Alexander Schwertner

Verified Expert  in Product Management

Product Manager

Location
Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada
Toptal Member Since
July 16, 2019

Alex is an entrepreneurial product and strategy leader with a track record of 20 years in leadership roles in tech companies of various sizes. Alex works with cross-functional teams to shape product strategy around what is most impactful for customers and drive product development to deliver growth with delightful experiences that matter. Alex has helped many companies to scale and grow, both in executive product roles and as an advisor and coach in a startup accelerator.

Project Highlights

Launch of a Digital Identity Product
Took an early-stage consumer product prototype to a successful market launch within 3 months.
Introducing an Agile Product Management Practice
Presented the CEO with a comprehensive transformation plan to transform a company into an Agile product organization.
Vendor Consolidation Through a Centralized, Microservices-based Architecture
Developed a target architecture and proof-of-concept strategy for a consolidated cloud-services provisioning platform.

Expertise

Work Experience

Lead Coach

2023 - PRESENT
Georgian Bay Accelerator
  • Developed two innovative program tracks targeting high-potential startups at different points in their growth journey, matching them with world-class mentors to accelerate growth and prepare them to seek funding.
  • Served as a lead coach for several startups in the Accelerator, taking an active role in refining their value proposition, product strategy, and business plan.
  • Advised a lifestyle business in the education sector to change its business model towards a recurring revenue services business with significant scaling potential across North America.

Consultant

2018 - PRESENT
Schwertner Consulting
  • Performed a domain vendor cost analysis, identifying potential cost savings and price negotiation strategies.
  • Developed a concept for a centralized, microservices-based internal infrastructure to manage domain names, allowing for vendor consolidation and significant long-term cost reductions.
  • Created the transformation plan to introduce a product management organization to a Waterfall-based software organization.

VP Products

2022 - 2023
ActivateStaff
  • Hired by the CEO to lead the transformation to a product company and obtain Series A funding.
  • Introduced Agile product management and transition from agency-driven to a problem and product-driven development.
  • Automated customer onboarding to enable growth at scale.

VP Products

2021 - 2022
CrowdRiff
  • Reported to the CEO and led a team of 14 product managers and designers across four product lines and $15M in ARR as a senior leadership team member.
  • Grew a mature SaaS business into new geographies and customer segments.
  • Recruited critical talent and realigned team structure to support business goals.
  • Achieved 100%+ net revenue retention on existing SaaS business, successfully launched and acquired clients for a new SaaS product line, and developed and released a native iOS app from scratch in less than six months.
  • Scaled up two new, strategic SaaS product lines and built a new Creator Marketplace on a content development platform that connects destination marketers and content creators with an innovative web-based story-telling format.

VP Products

2020 - 2021
500px
  • Transformed a leading photography community into a product-driven organization, focused on growing a freemium membership model and licensing royalty revenue by creating value for users.
  • Launched 500-pixel portfolios, an easy-to-use website builder for targeting a large pool of less tech-savvy photographers. Introduced Agile product management practices to align product development toward business objectives.
  • Built and managed a product organization of four PMs to accelerate product delivery across several teams. Led remote mobile and full-stack engineering team of 20 developers across Canada and China.

VP Products

2016 - 2018
Tucows, Inc.
  • Drove the profit margin per transaction by 15%, across 30,000 wholesale channel partners, by creating an analytical pricing map to develop and deliver pricing tiers.
  • Eliminated technical debt by engineering a platform established on a microservice architecture, resulting in an improved product strategy, cost structure, and profitability—conjecturing a margin increase of USD 5M by 2019.
  • Catapulted new top-level domains added to the platform from 5 to 200 in one year by developing a product roadmap, solving complex integration obstacles, and delivering a 10% increase in overall profitability.
  • Increased the net promoter score (NPS) by 20% through product alignment using state-of-the-art UX design.
  • Solved industry regulation requirements across 190 countries and enhanced the customer experience by leading developers of a new end-user interface with B2C transaction provisions, allowing B2B branding and customizations.
  • Established a strong cadence of Agile product management process across multi-location product engineering and operations, providing measurable story points.
  • Earned industry-wide recognition for developing a model GDPR approach through collaboration with internal and external stakeholders and analytical thinking, contributing to an industry playbook that was largely adopted as the new industry regulation.
  • Conceptualized and executed a new messaging service implemented by more than 75% of partners, allowing localized and highly customizable content.
  • Propelled additional margin by several million dollars by leading integration efforts after multiple mergers and acquisitions, yielding the addition of 17 million domain names and 30,000 resellers.

Vice Chair of Supervisory Board

2007 - 2018
DENIC eG
  • Worked for DENIC, the registry operator of .DE, one of the largest ccTLDs with more than 16 million domains.
  • Contributed to setting and continuously adapting the board's goal of pursuing growth of the .DE zone, operational excellence, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Cultivated a new strategy to build products resulting in the development of three new products and new opportunities.

General Manager

2004 - 2018
EPAG Domainservices GmbH
  • Oversaw the ccTLD competence center housed within Tucows, operating as a separate wholesale domain business with customers primarily in Germany and Austria; managed a 15-member business unit that generated €5 million in revenue.
  • Rescued the company from near bankruptcy by consolidating operations, identifying niche market opportunities, and repositioning the company—growing the number of wholesale partnerships by 150%, boosting revenue from €250,000 to €5 million.
  • Reignited company by shifting to a ccTLD niche market and developing a new website which increased revenue by 15%.
  • Stimulated revenue growth to more than 30% per annum by investing in new features such as repositioning to a ccTLD niche market, dramatically expanding the platform feature set, thereby gaining trust of customers.
  • Initiated the sale of the company with EPAG’s shareholder and facilitated the acquisition by Tucows in 2011.

Director of Products

2014 - 2016
Tucows Inc.
  • Skyrocketed incremental domain registrations to 900,000 in 2015, through product management strategies such as establishing vendor relationships, streamlining the product onboarding process and adding 450+ top-level domains.

Team Lead of Marketing and Billing

2000 - 2006
Celox GmbH
  • Acted as a key member of an eight-member startup team, growing the company to an €8.5-million business within five years.
  • Completed the go-to-market plan and execution for a new brand and product rollout.
  • Acquired and integrated a new business to diversify product offerings.

Launch of a Digital Identity Product

Took an early-stage consumer product prototype to a successful market launch within 3 months.

My client's engineers developed a prototype for an open, federated digital identity product, without any prior involvement of a product manager.

I was brought in by the executives to finalize the product and launch at a predetermined date. I caught up on the previously omitted product development work, including the user-flow and process analysis, essential UX design, drafting contract and governance policy documents, generated website copy, product pricing, and a go-to-market plan.

As part of the actual product launch, I gave product presentations and held implementation workshops at two tradeshows.

Introducing an Agile Product Management Practice

Presented the CEO with a comprehensive transformation plan to transform a company into an Agile product organization.

Changing market dynamics required the client company to pivot from a technical infrastructure operator to an innovative, market- and customer-driven organization. Executives realized that despite the best efforts in the past, they were not able to make progress towards meeting their strategic objective. I was brought in to come up with a proposal on how to introduce product management to the organization.

An analysis uncovered that current processes were largely Waterfall, without any representation of customers and only limited consideration of business objectives. I developed a comprehensive proposal analyzing the status quo, educating about Agile organizations, product management, continuous product discovery and delivery processes, and suggesting a path on how to introduce a product management practice to the organization (including job profiles, team structures, recruiting plan, and a strategy on how to approach and communicate the change process to the organization).

Vendor Consolidation Through a Centralized, Microservices-based Architecture

Developed a target architecture and proof-of-concept strategy for a consolidated cloud-services provisioning platform.

My client—a cloud and hosting service provider—had completed dozens of acquisitions and was faced with a highly fragmented domain name provisioning structure, with duplicated vendor relationships and back-end APIs over several brands and a resulting unfavorable purchase and operating cost structure. I was asked to provide a plan to save costs and consolidate vendor relationships.

An analysis showed that the client's current infrastructure was highly siloed between brands and in part plagued with technical debt with little opportunity to share back-end provisioning between brands.

I came up with a concept for a target architecture to consolidate domain management in a shared, microservices-based infrastructure accessible to all brands, allowing to consolidate vendor relationships and improve purchase costs. To outline a transition, I suggested approaching the implementation with a staged proof-of-concept plan that would deliver target elements with increasing complexity and allow to iterate and adjust along the way.

Product Concept and Business Plan for a New Web Hosting Brand

Delivered a comprehensive business plan and pitch document to present to the client board for approval and execution.

I created a concept and business plan for a new consumer-facing hosting brand. This work included a market analysis, product development, a user experience approach, a detailed business plan and P&L, and a go-to-market strategy.
1996 - 2000

Diplom (Bachelor's Equivalent) Degree in Geography

University of Cologne - Cologne, Germany

1996 - 1997

Academic Exchange Scholarship in Geography

Simon Fraser University - Vancouver, BC, Canada

1993 - 1995

Vordiplom Degree in Geography

University Eichstätt - Eichstätt, Germany

Tools

Jira, Confluence, Figma

Paradigms

Scrum, Agile Product Management, B2B2C, Business to Business to Consumer (B2B2C), Kanban, Marketplace Platforms

Other

Software as a Service (SaaS), Domain Name System (DNS), GDPR, Microsoft Excel, Leadership, Product Planning, People Management, Domain Name Registration, Web Hosting, Cloud Services, B2B, Web Platforms, Retail & Wholesale, Recruiting, Product Design, Post-merger Integration, ICANN, Product Management, Business Analysis, Requirements, Product Strategy, Product Roadmaps, Go-to-market Plans, Business Models, Product Discovery, Strategic Planning & Execution, Subscriptions, Product Launch, Feature Prioritization, Remote Team Leadership, Data Analysis, Strategy, User Research, Product Marketing, Mobile, eCommerce, eCommerce Platforms, Apps, Technical Product Management, Mobile App Development, Pricing Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Profit & Loss (P&L), Data Governance, Notion, Freemium Model, Machine Learning, SaaS, Content, Product Strategy Consultant, Data, Billing Systems, Marketing, Staffing, Lean Canvas, Operations, Business Planning, Pitch Preparation, Startup Funding, Digital Marketing, Product Development

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