Topher Williams, Product Manager in San Diego, CA, United States
Topher Williams

Product Manager in San Diego, CA, United States

Member since July 3, 2019
Topher is an executive and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of operational, technology, and product management and development leadership experience across a breadth of industries with specific expertise working with startups. He's always been a person who prefers a great deal of variety in his work—whether that's solving different problems facing an organization or working with several companies in different markets.
Topher is now available for hire

Project Highlights

  • Led the product design and development for an RFID grow management system for the cannabis space—from concept to MVP and pilots.
  • Led product management and development activities through 7 quarters of >30% user growth and $300,000 in seed funding raised.
  • Led the product design and development for eCommerce analytics tools—enabling client YoY revenue growth >400%.



Select Certifications


  • Founder | CEO

    2017 - PRESENT
    • Provided CTO-for-hire services for more than a dozen early-stage businesses, focusing mostly on product management, pro-forma financial modeling and business case development, and product development.
    • Developed product development services business and leveraged on-shore and off-shore development partners to bring countless MVPs to market.
    • Gained industry experience across many verticals, including clients in cannabis, heavy industrial, consumer and business software applications, IoT, healthcare IT, and others.
    • Worked on projects covering a wide array of technologies including web and mobile technology stacks (MEAN/MERN/.NET), cloud and serverless architectures, RFID and embedded applications, and integrations with countless private and government APIs.
  • Co-founder | CEO

    2017 - PRESENT
    Article Innovations
    • Grew the annual revenue to more than $500,000 in the first full year of operation.
    • Oversaw and was responsible for the day-to-day general management of the business operations (HR, operations, finance, and so on).
    • Managed the commercialization and product development of several SaaS products for the Amazon third-party seller eCommerce market.
  • Mentor

    2016 - 2017
    Canopy San Diego
    • Provided entrepreneurs with feedback and insights in their path to fundraising and other business challenges they faced.
    • Presented lectures on financial modeling and business models.
    • Advised and coached entrepreneurs in industries ranging from SaaS to consumer goods and digital media.
  • CTO | Acting CFO

    2015 - 2017
    • Developed the financial models, business strategy, growth and risk mitigation plans, pitch decks, and due diligence materials; also participated in fundraising, due diligence, and other investor meetings.
    • Maintained the company's AngelList and Crunchbase profiles.
    • Crafted investor update communications.
    • Defined and implemented business key performance indicators (KPIs) and product analytics (including behavioral analytics) data collection mechanisms and processes.
    • Leveraged data to inform product roadmap decisions (growth hacking), strategic decision making, and operational improvements.
    • Implemented customer service procedures and playbook.
    • Worked with the CPA and bookkeeper to reconcile books and produce quarterly financial statements.
    • Maintained the investor roster, cap table, option pool, and vesting schedules.
    • Collaborated with the legal team to create and negotiate (as applicable) convertible debt funding agreements, commercial terms, intellectual property licensing contracts, employee agreements (NDA, independent contractor agreements, and so on); made extensive contract reviews and revisions and handled all government filings, payments, requests, and other correspondence.
    • Established payroll and time and attendance procedures, by setting up the employee benefits program and administering the employee health insurance program and other labor compliance matters.
    • Procured general liability, workers compensation, media errors and omissions, directors and officers, and key man life insurance on behalf of the company; including distributing 1099s, W2s, and other tax documents.
    • Oversaw and was responsible for the development, maintenance, and support of native iOS and Android consumer apps, B2B web app platforms, and back-end infrastructure.
    • Directly managed seven offshore engineers and three local contractors. Technologies included AWS Elastic Beanstalk, EC2, S3, Cognito, API Gateway, SNS, VPC, Node.js, MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, Objective-C, and Java.
    • Ensured that teams followed an Agile development process and used common management tools (Trello, GitHub, InVision).
    • Worked with social media teams to measure and monitor marketing campaign efficacy.
    • Worked with CEO to develop sales forecasts and goals, develop sales collateral, and other marketing materials.
    • Performed extensive pricing, competitive, industry, and mergers and acquisitions research.
    • Worked with overseas contractors to aggregate large data sets for sales leads.
    • Led product management (concept testing, market analysis, product testing with clients) for the development of new business products.
    • Procured, trained staff, and supported business applications (hosted email and calendar, sales funnel management tools, engineering tools, analytics tools, file storage, customer support tools, marketing automation tools).
    • Maintained the company website and web infrastructure.
    • Raised more than $300,000 in investment capital from angel investors.
    • Supported quarterly app user growth in excess of 30% for seven consecutive quarters.
    • Supported the monetization of the platform and revenue growth from $0 - $30,000 (monthly) within the first quarter of sales.
  • Lead High-tech Analyst

    2012 - 2016
    Tech Coast Angels
    • Performed due diligence activities for early-stage (angel) funding rounds on behalf of angel investors.
    • Prepared a summary of the findings and associated analysis and opinions after performing a market analysis, financial statement analysis, validation of business model and assumptions, review of technology and IP, review of growth strategy and strategic plans, term sheets, and other data.
    • Recruited, trained, and oversaw the development of new analyst interns in the high-tech space.
    • Held office hours to discuss the roadmap to funding and other business challenges with entrepreneurs.
  • CTO

    2015 - 2015
    • Worked with the management team to develop the product strategy, participated in investor meetings, and developed pro forma financial models.
    • Developed logistics processes around shipping, receiving, and processing of customer DNA samples.
    • Oversaw the development of customized web application (dating website) with proprietary DNA-based matching algorithms. Onboarded the development team with no interruption to product delivery. Technologies included AngularJS, MySQL, Express.js, PHP, AWS EC2, and RDS.
    • Designed and executed numerous multi-variate studies to improve user signup/conversion and engagement metrics and to optimize pricing models.
    • Supported a $500,000 capital raise from angel investors.
    • Transitioned product development to onshore without any interruptions.
  • Senior Engineering Program Manager

    2008 - 2015
    • Reviewed due-diligence materials relating to engineering and operations in buy-side M&A transactions and technology licensing.
    • Contributed to corporate strategic planning committees.
    • Researched, identified, and managed strategic technology partnerships.
    • Developed a new business model to service the transportation network company (e.g., Uber, Lyft) industry; pitched business opprtunities to Uber executives.
    • Managed product development programs with budgets in excess of $15 million and more than 40 engineers.
    • Oversaw the execution of outsourced development contracts to ensure contract performance by working closely with product management teams to ensure development teams delivered the right value at the right time. Technologies included embedded Linux, OpenCV, C/C++, C#, MS SQL, RESTful web services (.NET), embedded hardware, CDMA, GSM, and WiFi wireless technologies, USB OTG.
    • Created processes and managed the roll-out of Agile engineering methodologies to hardware, software, and firmware teams.
    • Developed manufacturing technology solutions and transitioned manufacturing operations from the US to China without any supply-chain disruptions.
    • Developed global logistics systems and highly scalable architecture, linking real-time production information across five countries.
    • Conceptualized and developed a new business model for the TNC industry and successfully worked through relationships to get an opportunity to pitch executives at Uber.
    • Implemented Agile development practices across engineering teams, improving estimation accuracy more than 100% and greatly improving development predictability and visibility.
    • Delivered three longterm (more than 18 months) development projects to market with cradle-to-grave technical ownership.
    • Generated technology solutions for manufacturing and reverse logistics to support a 300% growth rate at 30% reduced cost.
    • Innovated manufacturing and product changes reducing field failure rate from more than 5% to less than 0.5%.
    • Co-authored three technology patents (all issued).
  • Analyst

    2013 - 2013
    Senoma Group
    • Led deal-sourcing activities in conjunction with a managing partner.
    • Searched for acquisition targets using databases such as Manta, PrivCo, and Bloomberg.
    • Provided detailed segment research in sectors ranging from healthcare IT to visual voicemail providers.
    • Developed investment hypotheses for more than a dozen potential acquisition targets.
  • Founder | CEO

    2006 - 2011
    Metropolitan Management
    • Founded a B2B SaaS company providing call center sales management tools. There were no employees initially; bootstrapped product development.
    • Closed sales with multiple Fortune 500 companies, managed relationships, and supported customers.
    • Managed engineering teams in three countries, bringing three SaaS products to market.
    • Closed deals with AT&T and Time Warner Cable as well as other small businesses.
    • Completed work that ensured we were cash flow positive within first quarter of operations and triple-digit growth annually with recurring revenue subscription model.
  • Software Project Manager

    2003 - 2006
    Nokia Mobile Phones
    • Led a team of engineering specialists spread over four continents.
    • Evaluated, prioritized, and selected development projects.
    • Managed the work and built up the team.
    • Developed innovations that resulted in a near 100% increase in production line capacity improvement globally.
    • Was recognized as a global specialist in radio calibration of CDMA and WCDMA architectures for mass production.

Project History

  • RFID-based Grow Management Platform
    Led the product design and development for an RFID grow management system for the cannabis space—from concept to MVP and pilots.

    This was a complicated project due to the newness of government requirements and regulations in the cannabis space, and the general lack of technological sophistication of most commercial growers at the time.

    Working with the company's CEO, I helped his team build and manage a development backlog, refine feature prioritization, interview clients, and oversaw the development project for more than a year.

    The project was technically tricky in that it covered a vast array of technologies: cloud backend and web application, a native mobile app with RFID reader integration, fixed infrastructure RFID readers, and on-site middleware. In addition to the wide variety of technologies in play, the system needed to meet various government (and sovereign nation) reporting and auditing requirements, most of which were not well defined as we were developing the system.

  • MomCo App
    Led product management and development activities through 7 quarters of >30% user growth and $300,000 in seed funding raised.

    The MomCo app was a mobile app (native iOS and Android apps) that used geolocation services to help moms find other moms with similarly aged children near. The app also promoted company hosted playdates and other events around the US, private mom groups, and a host of other features.

    The app was featured on the Today show and attracted more than 50,000 moms to the platform. The engagement and adoption that the app was able to generate attracted $300,000 in seed funding during my tenure with the company.

    With the ability to get moms (a highly valuable demographic) to attend events and provide feedback on products and services that were available to try at these events, we started work on developing features to allow the app to be used as a virtual consumer panel. We did this so we could sell access to selected collections of moms to brands that wanted to sell to that demographic. This was an exciting expansion opportunity for the platform.

  • eCommerce Data Analytics Platform
    Led the product design and development for eCommerce analytics tools—enabling client YoY revenue growth >400%.

    The client is an online retailer looking to optimize the allocation of their capital across hundreds of thousands of products that they could potentially sell. Adding another level of complexity, the client was also selling established products on Amazon, which meant there was dynamic competition, pricing pressure, and other factors present that made demand and price forecasting particularly tricky.

    Working with the client, we devised an ideal workflow that would enable maximum efficiency and automation. The workflow would use algorithms to identify potential products from Amazon's 450 million item product catalog that might be good performers for the client to sell.

    The algorithms would add brands to a sales pipeline tool where workers would process the leads and attempt to establish relationships with the manufacturers and obtain pricing information (and other logistic information). The workers would then submit that data to another software solution that would perform an in-depth financial analysis of each product, including leveraging several machine learning algorithms, to identify the optimal inventory investment mix that the business could act upon. This efficiency allowed the company to scan hundreds of thousands of products.

  • Accounting Analysis and Reporting Platform
    Led product development for a full-service accounting firm to bring an analysis and reporting SaaS platform to market.

    The client was interested in building a SaaS product to replace in-house financial analysis and reporting spreadsheets and other AIS tools they used with a more automated and integrated web solution that could also be sold to other firms.

    The client being a full-service accounting firm had no in-house technical resources or any experience bringing technical products to market. For this project, I worked with the client as if I were an in-house CTO.

    In my role as fractional CTO, I worked with the client to capture and refine their product vision and requirements, decomposed those product requirements in to user stories, and defined the technology stack and system architecture for the project. Once this up-front work was completed, I managed a vendor selection process to qualify on- and off-shore development firms and guided the client through the partner decision making process. Once the development firm was selected, I worked with them constantly throughout the project to both manage the agile development process with them, serving as the product owner, but also in managing user acceptance testing and other responsibilities of the client, while transparently communicating project status, issues, and so forth to the client.

  • Voice Analytics Data Product Management
    Delivered a comprehensive MVP package for a new voice analytics product: market research, strategic definition of what the MVP should be, economic analysis of the proposed MVP, evaluation process for technology partners, and detailed user stories.

    For this project, I worked on defining what the MVP of a voice analytics product should look like.

    I presented an in-depth analysis of the marketplace, from the perspective of who the players are, what business models are in play, what technology relationships exist, and what each competitor's offering looks like.

    I worked with several existing and potential customers of the clients to identify their pain points, concept test potential product features and business models, and really try to understand how these technologies could create value in their organizations.

    With this information, I developed an MVP concept, including which features should (or should not) be a part of the MVP (and what a feature roadmap might look like—similar to a PRD), as well as a few business model options and how each of the models might perform (considering various development cost scenarios combined with different operational cost and pricing models).

    After receiving buy-in from the client's stakeholders, I worked through the MVP definition and created user stories to break down and describe each of the MVP's features, and technical evaluation and selection criteria for the technology partners that I had previously identified.


  • Master's Degree in Business Administration
    2012 - 2014
    San Diego State University - San Diego, CA, USA
  • Certificate in Business Management
    2005 - 2011
    UC San Diego Extension - San Diego, CA, USA
  • Certificate in Project Management
    2004 - 2011
    UC San Diego Extension - San Diego, CA, USA
  • Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering
    1998 - 2003
    University of California, San Diego - San Diego, CA, USA


  • Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)
    Scrum Alliance
  • Certified Scrum Master
    JUNE 2013 - PRESENT
    Scrum Alliance
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
    DECEMBER 2006 - DECEMBER 2019
    Project Management Institute (PMI)

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