My Name Is Austin Merritt — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
This is how I became a product manager. I was 24 years old and meeting with the CEO of the startup I had joined a year earlier. I was there to tell him I was interested in an open spot on the quality assurance team. He had another idea. The team needed its first product manager and he said I should consider it.
It was the role I was made for — but until that point I never knew it existed. A bit ironic, right?
Over the next few years we grew that startup into one of the top technology companies in the southeast. I helped build the product team from one to seven, managing a full portfolio of products and services. We started as a typical reactive startup and transformed into a strategic market leader.
We were building software for nonprofits. As I was developing a passion for product management, I was also learning an important thing about myself. I learned that I am at my best when I am directly involved in helping customers do meaningful work.
Helping someone save an hour of time and knowing they are going to spend that hour doing something impactful is an endless source of motivation for me.
But earlier this year I found myself doing a retrospective of my career. I felt like I had accomplished a lot, but I didn’t feel like I was thriving. I wanted to figure out why. During this period of reflection, I told my wife that I wanted to spend more time helping people directly. I wanted to work directly with customers every day.
Around that time I stumbled upon the Aha! blog. It quickly became one of those blogs where I read one post, and another, and then bookmarked three or four more. It was clear that these were product management experts. It was also clear that I think about building products and companies a lot like they do.
When I learned that the team is fully distributed and hires only experienced product managers as members of the Customer Success team, I was intrigued. I made a note to investigate the company more later and got back to work.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about Aha! — I decided to take the leap and applied for a Customer Success manager position.
Every interaction I had during the interview process validated my decision. The more I learned, the more I saw Aha! as a game-changer for product managers. Right down to the message that Aha! often uses — “Build What Matters” — I knew that this team was special.
As soon as I accepted the position, I began helping product managers around the world. Just last week I helped a solo founder in Berlin organize the launch of his business using Aha! and assisted a large media company in getting Aha! up and running for their product team and massive product portfolio.
As a Customer Success manager at Aha! I interact with hundreds of product managers each week at some of the world’s most innovative and well-known companies. And I have the opportunity to use my experience to help them build better strategy and roadmaps.
I am also part of an awesome team that works hard and pulls for one another. My colleagues at Aha! are all I expected and more. We come from different backgrounds and bring different perspectives, but we all have deep product management experience — and a passion for helping other people. I learn something new every day.
I am excited about what the future holds. Aha! is changing the way companies innovate and build great products and I am honored to be on the front lines.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.