Making Butter with Jam

At its best, building a product with others is a joyful, magical process.  It’s like being on a championship team and getting into the zone.  Or hosting an epic jam session where the band comes together and music flows like a hose over the crowd.  

It’s also like being on the line in a commercial kitchen: lots of ingredients, lots of pressure and lots of mess, with a room full of hungry guests waiting on the other side of the door.  And, as Anthony Bourdain put it, if you don’t have the right setup, you’re screwed:

If you let your mise-en-place run down, get dirty and disorganized, you’ll quickly find yourself spinning in place and calling for backup. I worked with a chef who used to step behind the line to a dirty cook’s station in the middle of a rush to explain why the offending cook was falling behind. He’d press his palm down on the cutting board, which was littered with peppercorns, spattered sauce, bits of parsley, bread crumbs and the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates quickly on a station if not constantly wiped away with a moist side towel. “You see this?” he’d inquire, raising his palm so that the cook could see the bits of dirt and scraps sticking to his chef’s palm. “That’s what the inside of your head looks like now.”

For product teams, screenshots, CSS snippets and copy edits floating across email and Slack are the equivalent of peppercorns and spattered sauce on the cutting board: disorganized, out of context and unhelpful.  Today, that’s the norm.  There’s no shared mise-en-place which makes it dead-simple for the whole team to cook together. When USV redid our own website last year, we discussed improvements by sending screenshots over email, copy changes in a Google Doc, and bug reports over text. We were in multiple disconnected tools, and as a result, things would get lost and out of sync with the actual site.

If we were doing it today, we’d use Jam to collaborate right within the product.  Which is just one of the reasons we’re so proud to announce our investment in Dani Grant, Mohd Irtefa, and the Jam team. 

Jam turns your product itself into a collaboration hub, with comments, edits, and fixes taking place right in the flow. On a product team, the product is the first tab everyone opens, the last tab everyone closes, and the only place everyone is all the time.  With Jam, teams can leave comments, discuss improvements, and even use their existing tools like GitHub, Figma and Jira in-context directly from their products.  It looks like this:

Dani and Irtefa met as product managers at USV portfolio company Cloudflare.  With Jam, they are building the product they wish they had when they were product managers. We have long admired Cloudflare’s approach to product and held them up as a gold standard internally, and we already see the Jam team making use of these learnings with their own flavor. 

We also had the pleasure of working with Dani over the past several years as she was a member of our last USV analyst class.  Her inquisitiveness, kindness and raw brain power made her an absolute joy to jam with.  One idea that we explored at length was “Butter” — that hard-to-describe-but-unmistakable deliciousness that the best products have.  Jam is butter in and of itself, but even better than that, Jam’s mission is to empower product teams to cook up their own butter.

We could not be more thrilled to support Jam in its launch alongside our friends at Version One, BoxGroup and Village Global, as well as the CEO of Cloudflare, the CTO of GitHub, the CEO of Gumroad, the former CTO of PagerDuty, and the former CPO of Kickstarter — all builders who know how to cook with gas.

If you want add some Jam to your product, you can sign up here.