Hubba Hype Grows With New CPO And $11-Million Funding

This has been a year of rapid change for Johnathan Nightingale.

Since mid-2013, he the was Vice President and General Manager for Firefox at Mozilla, but found himself looking for a new job this Spring. Hubba CEO Ben Zifkin approached him about the position of Chief Product Officer at his fast-growing product-information startup that had raised $3.1-million in December.

hubba logoNightingale was very interested but decided to play it safe and instead focus his energy on his summer wedding. Zifkin took the rebuff gracefully and the two decided to continue the conversation in the fall.

Zifkin and Hubba, meanwhile, continued their upward trajectory, securing $11-million in Series A funding led by Canadian venture capital firms Real Ventures and Kensington Venture Fund and announcing it had acquired 10,000 brands and retailers as users.

“When I got back, he was one of my first calls because I was excited about what was happening here,” Nightingale said of Zifkin. While he was considering the CPO role, Nightingale did his due diligence on the company.

“It’s not like everybody’s got a system today and we’re just offering an incrementally better one. There’s a real opportunity to transform this.”

“I tried to turn over every rock I could. I found friends of mine who were investors or who were CEOs at other companies, and universally, the respect that they have for the senior team here is off the charts.”

Nightingale decided to join the team and Zifkin couldn’t wait to trumpet the new hire to the world.

“Johnathan is one of the top product people in the world. He could have gone anywhere. He chose us,” Zifkin wrote on the Hubba blog.

Hubba connects retailers with the product information they need to sell. It’s a unique service that Nightingale repeatedly refers to as an ‘opportunity’ during our conversation. Like they found a great new restaurant and they don’t want word to leak out too quickly.

“This space around all the information for every product–it’s wide open and it shouldn’t be,” Nightingale said with some incredulity.

“It’s not like everybody’s got a system today and we’re just offering an incrementally better one. There’s a real opportunity to transform this,” he said, referencing his time at Mozilla evangelizing the power of software to transform how people live and work.

“Right now, people are tracking this stuff in spreadsheets in their local computer or on dropbox folder somewhere that they share with their sales team. It can be a lot better and smarter and accessible and mobile than the current state of things.”

Now… what to do about all that funding? Nightingale keeps his cards pretty close to his chest, but describes adding more features to Hubba that will help current customers recommend Hubba and drive adoption.

“We’ve got such an opportunity to level the playing field.”

Nightingale also describes a discovery system, based on Hubba’s product information, that might help connect a new product with a retailer.

“How do we take all that [information] and put it in front of influential groups of people?” he asks on behalf of Hubba users. “For a lot of the people we see on Hubba, that’s one of their top priorities.”

“We’ve got such an opportunity to level the playing field, to make it easier for [Hubba users] to connect with people who can really change their business.”

Hubba’s founders told Globe Advisor in early October that the company will look to raise another round of financing by spring of 2017, and eventually go public. That story went live just days before it was announced that Nightingale would join the team.

“It’s great to feel like people are confident in the work we’re doing and want to invest to see it get bigger. In a sense, it’s a kind of social proof,” Nightingale said. “But we feel like the excitement of the funding is what it allows us to do, and growing is exactly it.”

With 25 employees, Hubba’s MaRS Discovery District offices are “full to bursting”, according to Nightingale, and a move to a new space might be on the horizon. Of course, Nightingale and Hubba are no strangers to rapid changes.

About Ben Myers

Ben Myers is a creative digital marketer in Toronto. Contact through Linkedin or @benkmyers on Twitter.

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