Interview with Mentimeter’s VP of Product, Jakob Nettelbladt


Zach Grosser


February 1, 2021

Interview with Mentimeter’s VP of Product, Jakob Nettelbladt

We interview Jakob Nettelbladt, VP of Product at interactive presentation platform Mentimeter.

Tell us about Mentimeter, what is the elevator pitch?

Presentations and meetings should be more about listening, and less about talking. Mentimeter bridges the gap between presenter and audience by letting everyone contribute to the conversation. Instead of static slides, our slides are interactive — and everyone in the audience contributes with comments, questions and input using their phones.

What made you want to build an interactive presentation tool?

First we set out to end boring meetings — now we want to make everyone heard. Mentimeter gives everyone a voice, regardless of who's usually the loudest voice in the room.

There’s no need for a presentation to be boring, but using one-way presentation tools is kind of boring. At least we think so, so we created a more inclusive and engaging way of presenting.

Mentimeter, beyond being a great live engagement tool, seems like a tool for gathering data during meetings. How do you see your customers using these features, and the benefits over other types of surveys?

Gathering data is always useful, but gathering and visualizing data in real-time is much more powerful.

Let’s say you’re talking about the sensitive topic of workplace harassment. Using Mentimeter you can anonymously ask your audience if they’ve ever been subject to it. Whatever results you’re getting — it will be a very powerful conversation starter. Just compare these two approaches:

“According to a survey, an average of 12% of employees have been subjected to workplace harassment...”

“9% of the people in this room claim they have been subjected to harassment in the workplace...”

How has Mentimeter usage changed since the beginning of the pandemic? Do you find it is helping people connect remotely?

Remote work was never a key use case for us before the pandemic, but it turns out people love using Mentimeter remotely (as do we internally). We all know how soul sucking endless Zoom meetings can be. And the larger the meeting - the worse the experience. It’s impossible for 200 attendees to unmute at the same time to answer the question “How is your week?”. But using Mentimeter, everyone can contribute to the discussion. For example through a multiple-choice question with suitable answers to “How is your week?” (Pro-tip: Use GIFs as answer options). Or through an open-ended wordcloud to get a compiled view of everyone’s weeks.

Or my favorite: Using our soon-to-be-released Pin-on-image question type with the “Which medieval cat are you today” picture grid. Instant success.

A feature we developed specifically for this pandemic situation is “Comments from Audience”. It’s like a live chat with audience input that overlays your presentation. Participants can send quick and unobtrusive comments or emojis that appear and fade away as you present — it’s a great replacement for those spontaneous and supportive shout-outs that make IRL presentations so great.

We also have more corona-adapted features in development, so stay tuned for more fun things.

If you could give non-creatives one piece of design advice, what would it be?

My engineering approach to design is that one can always get “better at design”, even if you’re not a creative. I try to ask creatives why their design is good. Definitely not in a hostile manner, and I never correct them. I simply want to understand why it’s good design. Good design should always be defendable, and thus it’s also learnable. I will definitely not become “a creative”, but I’m taking baby steps at getting “better at design”.

What is the biggest challenge Mentimeter faces?

The boring answer: Talent. If you’re a senior dev or designer and want to work with new tech at a fun place, shout at me on Linkedin.

The less boring answer: We’ve kept Mentimeter’s use cases as wide as possible from the beginning. A lot of other tools cater specifically to e.g. teachers, whereas we try to not specialize. But with an increasing user base comes increasing needs — and an increasing number of use cases. One interesting challenge is how to cater to these new verticals of users, while also keeping the main use case as wide as possible, and as zero friction as possible. That is quite the design challenge.

What, if anything, can you share about the future of Mentimeter?

We’re currently investing heavily in both our design team and our design system Ragnar, so expect even more beautiful things going forward.

Also, we want to make even more voices heard! And we think Mentimeter is useful for more things than just meetings and presentations. So there might be some innovation going on in that space…

Oh, and have you tried the Mentimote? Interesting things are happening there as well.

What's one unique thing about Mentimeter the company?

We relocate the whole office abroad for one month every year. Why? Because it’s fun! So far, we’ve worked out of San Francisco, Barcelona, Lisbon, Palermo, and Madrid. This year we’re aiming for North America, if the travel situation improves, that is.

And maybe not unique by San Francisco standards, but having your own private lunch chef is pretty unique in Stockholm, Sweden. Sara takes great care of us!

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