A portrait of Nothing's Alex gesturing with his hands during the interview.

Inside Peerdom: Growing a business strategy

12.05.21

As a venture lab, Nothing aims to help organisations and products to live up to their full potential and at the same time make them more humane. Our most successful product to date is the role mapping software Peerdom, which has its origins in 2018. Today we spoke with Alex, who was at the forefront of its conception and launch.

What’s the backstory and how did Nothing conceive Peerdom?

“It all started with Nothing’s own transition to a peer-to-peer organisation. Nothing was always very lean in its organisation. It had this start up feel even though it wasn’t one, so I actually never suffered from the typical ‘hierarchical’ organisation. It was our former CEO, Bastiaan, who wanted to decentralise and focus on other tasks. To do that, we needed clarity on who was doing what, people’s priorities… Every individual got a lot more freedom, but it wasn’t clear who had which responsibilities.
The existing tools for mapping roles and responsibilities that were out there were all very much tied to Holacracy, which was not compatible with our own simplified version of organisation. Since we create digital products ourselves, we set to it: The first drafts, a prototype and shortly after, a first version of Peerdom was in use internally. It was not meant for any other company or organisation. However, Nothing’s clients saw the tool and became curious. That is when we realised: Peerdom reflected a real market need. So we prepared it for market.”

Whose problems does Peerdom solve?

“Initially, I thought Peerdom would solve problems for small and medium companies, but the more we moved forward, the more we realised that large companies profit from it. There is a threshold at 10 employees, that’s when it becomes hard for anyone to have an overview of who does what and who is responsible for what.
The first ones to approach us were NGOs and IT companies. The latter because they like to have everything digital and transparent. NGOs because have lot of financial loss with admin work, and they suffer from these costs. So they want to be leaner and Peerdom allows to minimise administration work. Since then, nearly any type of company, small NGO, start-ups, and even bigger ones have approached us and Peerdom proved to work for them.

Anything interesting you can say about the conception of Peerdom?

“It is interesting that we learned a lot and there was a lot of trial and error. I personally love that. It is extremely lean. No pre-release testing, but users just get back to us. This is actually something that I adore about Nothing’s way of work. I feel like this is where a lot of companies fail. But we just put something small out and then improve it. What did that mean for Peerdom?
We started without a brand. We just started with an idea. We had companies that then proved that the concept works. If you have something that has no value but a brand, it will not sell.”

What kind of decision-making and knowledge management did you use to advance Peerdom?

We have this approach of combining technology, business and design to decide the next steps of the product. This is a model we use for external products as well, as it makes decision-making very lean. One such example would be to take a product to market with nothing but a prototype. Sell the idea before you spend hours iterating it without real user feedback. So decisions are up to the people who use the product. Then iteration and feedback in our venture lab, some tweaking, and back to the users. It is really a trial-and-error culture.”

What are your goals for the future?

Disrupt the world of organisations and try to move on from industrial age to more humane and organic ways of working. So with Peerdom the mission is really to help organisations to move to a more natural way of working.”

Peerdom has gained momentum and has grown to be a venture in its own right. Want to know which other products are currently brewing in our venture lab or are you sensing an opportunity and need help taking it to market? Get in touch with Alex at alex@nothing.ch.