The Mint Recap: Fireside Chat with Jack Altman of Lattice

The Mint Recap: Fireside Chat with Jack Altman of Lattice
Originally published on JC's LinkedIn here and Twitter here.

We loved having Jack Altman, Founder and Chairman of Lattice, as our special guest at The Mint a few weeks ago!

It was a great conversation reflecting on the journey of building Lattice.

Here are some of the insights and learnings:

1. You’ll know when you’ve got PMF.

Jack shared that in the early days of Lattice, they started with an OKR goal-setting tool. They spent 9 months “shoving it down people’s throats.” Eventually, after no traction, they pivoted twice, then finally landed on performance reviews.

It felt like a lightswitch. Customers paid up-front annual contracts on design mockups without developed products. Compare this to Jack spending months and months trying to pull the market to an earlier product. Once they felt the customer pull, the difference was unmistakable.

2. On that note, people telling you they want your product isn’t PMF.

Jack found that, generally, people want to be supportive. So, sometimes people you pitch to are encouraging regardless of whether they like your idea.

So, instead, make it easy for people to give you hard, honest feedback!

3. GTM is how you get PMF.

Jack talked about the misconception that people think they get PMF first and then “do GTM.”

You won’t get PMF by writing code and thinking hard. Most of the time, if you build it, they don’t come!

What even is Go-To-Market at an early-stage startup?

It’s really just distribution. But, at the earliest stages, you need to figure out what product you are distributing. Then it’s about how to distribute it to the right people and get them to buy.

4. Founder-led sales shorten the feedback loop.

Jack emphasized the importance of founder-led sales. Not because founders are the best sales people, but because founders are also the head of product and customer success, so it shortens the feedback loop and generates insights much more quickly.

The person in control of the product roadmap is also the person who is having all of the customer conversations — it should all be in one brain! The more brains it gets spread across, the slower you move.

5. Make champions out of your customers.

When Lattice was in its earliest stages, Jack launched a video interview series where he sat down with an HR leader for 45 minutes and asked them a ton of questions. He prioritized cheap ways to spotlight their customers, and it worked.

Jack also hosted dinners and stood up a Slack group for leaders in the HR space to create a community for them, with Lattice at the center of it. Stroking people’s egos is a great way to get them to engage in your marketing.

Remember: your potential customers are a lot more likely to listen to an aspirational peer than a founder who is new to the game / is leading a tiny company with no revenue!

6. Don’t spend too much time on competitors.

Jack found that when Company A focuses their eyes on customers, while their competition (Company B) is focusing on them, Company A generally wins. Same is true vice versa. 

7. Think critically about new product expansions.

Jack talked about how at Lattice, they mapped out a universe of buildable things, and then they tested new product expansion against a series of questions.

Do they have an advantage building this product, either because of how it interacts with the rest of their products or because of some special knowledge they might have? How difficult and expensive is this product to build relative to everything else they could work on?

How well does this product line up with today’s ideal customer profile, as well as the ICP they’re aiming for down the line?

8. Early-stage hiring is all about finding people who the world undervalues.

It’s not really reasonable to think that someone who just had an epic run as a top-5 engineer at Stripe will want to join a new early-stage startup. Your job is to find diamonds in the rough who the whole world hasn’t seen yet as obviously good.

JC is an investor at BTV, where he also co-leads The Mint, the pre-seed program for fintech founders. They accept applications and introductions on a rolling basis.

Introducing... The Mint:


Learn more about The Mint

the fintech-focused pre-seed program

check it out!