farzad

Farzad Ban
Founder & CEO

Product obsessed entrepreneur and investor. My obsession over products started around the time Tumblr launched their new take on personal blogging. Their unique execution on simplifying what was seemingly already simple enough was remarkable to me. But a well-designed product is only half of the work. The other half, building a relationship with the people using your product. They turned their early user base to advocates and together built the first community of bloggers that dearly cared about the company's mission and its future. And best of all, they reached this level of success with a team of fewer than 10 members. That is before the acquisitions started. Seeing the possibilities of what you can accomplish with a small team, focused on their true passion, made a great impression on me. I started dreaming about what would be possible if I invested all my time into this dream. An independent studio focused on designing the Tumblr of tools for businesses and, perhaps one day, for ourselves as well.

I started 3drops in 2010 as a home for my freelance work, right after graduating from Highschool in Stockholm, Sweden. I spent my first few years working as a freelance product designer working remotely from with startups mainly based in the US. I had learned that relationships matter more than work so, in order to prove myself to the founders I worked with, I set out to overdeliver on every aspect of the projects I worked on to gain their trust and hopefully friendship. During those years, I spent almost all my awake times living up to that goal.

Gradually, with a narrowed down focus on just one goal, and with some luck, I was able to build a reputation around my work with a pipeline stable enough to start hiring. I made my first few designers in 2014. At that time, I was living between a few countries so I had no choice but to hire remotely. With a few years of trials and errors, things started to fall in their pieces. By the end of 2016, we were about 20 remote members across Europe, US, Australia and South East Asia.

It felt great to be able to say that our number of members were growing rapidly which I had learned to be an indicator of success. But in reality, the more we grew, the further away we got from my vision for the company I once wanted to build. Too caught up in our client's success and goals that we slowly lost touch on ours. So as soon as the opportunity rise to start downscaling the company and slowly start building products for ourselves, I had to take it.

Late 2018 we completed our last client work. It was the perfect ending to our consulting work. With my story of being stateless for more than half of my life and continuing (you can read about it here, it was covered in Forbes as well among other major publications), it felt like a great closure. We designed and unifies the new visa system for over 65 countries. So if you applied for a visa recently, chances are, you went through the system we designed. Shipping that project on time and within budget was the result of all those years working to not only improve our design skills but constantly improving our processes that made that project our biggest success. Working on a project in that scale, with the level of responsibilities we took on and, coordinating with so many stakeholders and governments in a super time-sensitive project was as close we could get to Mission Impossible. That was our legacy of client work. Or so I thought.

During this time, we had designed and built a few internal products, one of which we shipped to the public. Our internal project and team management software that we created out of our frustration with kanban boards and never-ending todo lists that companies like Trello, Asana and Basecamp offered as team solutions. We called it Roadmap because it gave our team a clear path to what we wanted to accomplish from each project, from start to end. We shipped Roadmap Beta to Product Hunt mid-2017 and it blew up beyond our expectations. Especially this early on. So when we paused our consulting work and downscaled our team to only core members, we set Roadmap as our main focus.

We invested over a year of our time, focusing on just one thing. Growing Roadmap. With our limited resources as a bootstrapped startup, we knew we had to overcome our challenges with creativity rather than throwing money at every little thing we wanted to solve. We ran countless numbers of creative experiments to overcome our financial challenges. Gradually, we learned how to grow our leads, improve our conversions and lower our churns by pushing strategic design improvements across our product and marketing efforts. We learned by doing. Just like how we learned how to design and develop outstanding products, we learned how to market, position, and scale our business fearlessly.

Throughout the years, we got offers from leading VC firms in the business. The same firms that helped to scale Dropbox, Notion, Figma, Facebook and others. But we kindly turned them down to stay independent, flexible and free to explore. We believe it's better to face your challenges now, regardless of how risky that might seem, than postponing them to years later.

2019 turned our future around. Our focus and tirelessly experimenting with new approaches to marketing and product development made it possible for Roadmap to becoming a healthy, profitable startup it is today, that grows steadily every month. Roadmap powers some of the world's most productive teams like We, Squareup, Intercom to name a few and loved by managers at Google and Microsoft. Roadmap has also been voted as one of the best tools for remote teams 3 years in a row.

It's remarkable how much you can accomplish in just a year when you narrow down your focus. We learned a lot. We also stumbled upon a new product along the way. We call it Slim. Our take on what an analytics tool should do for early-stage startups. It's designed to get you more loyal users. More on this later.

That year was also kind of a soul-searching year for us as a company. One of the things we learned about ourselves during that year was how much we enjoyed working with teams we admired and the results we produced together. We missed those experiences dearly. So we are bringing a little bit of that back this year.

In 2020, 10 years since our start, I'm excited to reopen 3drops for client work, but with a new focus, new services but with the same goal. To launch and scale next-gen SaaS solutions for startups, enterprises and ourselves. In short, the Tumblr of SaaS.

Starting today, we are available for a handful of b2b, SaaS client projects this year. If you are interested in working together, I would love to hear from you.

Until then,
I remain your friend,
Farzad Ban
Founder & CEO @3drops
Roadmap is designed and built at 3drops. A product innovation lab for SaaS companies in Stockholm, SWE.
Funded and designed by Farzad Ban, Founder & CEO of 3drops, started during his Christmas break in 2015.
Roadmap is built from the ground up by 3drops CTO, Griffith Chen, since early 2016.
Roadmap was awarded as one of the most upvoted products on Product Hunt three years in a row since launch.
We hire part-time developers to collaborate with on shipping features. React, Go, Node Js. Your jam?
Email us.
Andrew Wilkinson
Founder of Metalab. Co-owner of Dribbble.
Farzad and his team consistently do work that is beautiful and well thought out. We're big fans.
Ted Persson
Partner at EQT Ventures & board member of NOA
3drops is one of the very few agencies I've worked with that thinks and works like a startup.
Thomas Klews
CDO VFS Global
Without Farzad and his team we would have not been able to launch our new platform for over 60 countries within 3 months from start to finish - their speed and efficiency, yet thoroughly thought through design approach and delivery was truly impressive.