Meet the Founder and CEO of Maze: Jonathan Widawski
Veteran designer Jonathan Widawski may just have uncovered the best new way to test products before taking them live. Maze is Jonathan’s second venture as a founder, and the company is empowering product designers, managers and marketers at more than 40,000 companies to test, learn, and act rapidly before they go to market. The company’s partners include world leaders such as Figma, Adobe XD, InVision, Marvel and Sketch.
Jonathan’s background is in UX design, and he saw firsthand how ineffective and expensive traditional user research was.
“You spend five weeks trying to find five people that are willing to come to your office and spend full day telling you what they think about something, then ultimately you create a report that your clients don’t care about, because it's only five data points that are very limited, and the whole thing costs $40 - $50k.”
It was while working in one of his previous ventures, gaming startup Pin.gg, that Jonathan stumbled upon the idea that Maze is based on. He had a mailing list of thousands and wanted to test prototypes and features of certain products to see the willingness of people to use them. He ended up customizing a testing solution based off the prototype of another program and it worked really well.
“We sent out the first test to 5,000 people, and one hour later, we had 2,500 responses. I’d come from a world where, if you got five responses in five weeks, you were opening the champagne.”
Jonathan went full time with Maze three years ago, and it was the culmination of many years of work. He essentially started his journey of designing and developing when he was 12 years old, when he taught himself how to build websites - though he concedes a lot of them were “terrible.”
“Other people were trading Pokemon cards, but I've always been so passionate about design and development. But I've always seen those as means to build products, and especially to create something that solves problems for people.”
“Every time I learned a new skill on the design or the development side, I took it down to try out and experiment with a new product. So I could be designing a t-shirt website or design, and basically anything I learned, I’d try to apply it to something that made sense for me.”
His early learning meant that Jonathan was able to teach design development at the same time as he was studying it at university. He’d teach the course for the year below, and the money he made ended up paying for his tuition.
In the three years it’s been running, Maze has grown to have a remote team of more than 60 people based all over the world. Jonathan is based in Paris, but is looking to move to New York later in 2021. He believes having a remote team unlocks the ability to hire staff based on their talent, regardless of their circumstances or location. He says building team culture is a little different when you’re remote, but it can actually be done better when you put in the time and effort.