Episode 3: A Talk with Lyubomir Georgiev from Modeshift
In this episode we talk to Lyubomir Georgiev – Modeshift’s Product Manager and a valuable part of the team since the beginning. Tune in to hear more about the product development process, what goes on behind the scenes in a transit tech company, and more!
MM: Alright, well, hey everybody and welcome to the Modecast Podcast, which is a podcast powered by your favorite smart mobility provider Modeshift – that’s us here! So, thanks for joining us today. I’m going to be your host, Max Mickey, as usual. And in this podcast, we talk about all things transit. So, before we dive into today’s episode, please subscribe and follow us on your preferred streaming platforms.
So, today is a, is a cool day. We have Lyubo Georgiev who is actually on our team here at Modeshift and is one of the people who builds all the cool things we do. Lyubo, welcome!
LG: Thank you, Max. Hi everyone!
MM: So Lyubo, can you start? I’d love to have you just kind of tell all listeners what your role is, kind of what you do, so they can get a little bit of background on your kind of expertise.
LG: Yeah, sure. So yeah, once again, hi everyone. I’m Lyubo, I’m Product Manager at Modeshift. I’m with the company for four years now. My role basically is helping clients, also working with our team closely and our UX designers to build something that will work for our clients to see innovations, any new ideas for the clients, and also for the business.
MM: Yeah, very nice. So a lot of things that probably a good part of our listeners like myself – I don’t understand how things function, but we always like to chat about background and how people got into transit and always seems like there’s kind of a funny story or just interesting way people kind of fell into transit because most of us, especially on the tech side, you know, weren’t doing it for kind of our whole careers, but give us a little background and kind of how you got into transit. But then, you know, what were you working on, your industries that you were doing before you were in this space?
LG: So yeah, how I got into transit. You know, I’ve always wanted to be part of a product company that is doing something that you can see the, the, the, the instant results from, from this product, what the product does to the people I’ve been working for product companies for the past 10 years basically since the time I’m in tech. So, my background before that was financial markets. I also had some experience with building let’s say CMS systems and also controls that are used for developers. It was a product, but most of the time you don’t see the impact instantly there. So, transit was something that, I mean, I’m part of transit everyday as a commuter. So, it was really nice to work on something like this.
ММ: Yeah, it’s interesting. So being like involved in transit on the personal side and like commuter. and that a lot of kind of ideas I guess there’s ideas happening a little more organically because you know, when you’re actually using public transit and thinking like, yeah, I wish I had this or that feature or disability things like that. Does that come up like when, you know you and your team are talking about, you know, what do we want to add or pull out or build things like that?
LG: Oh yeah. This happens actually all the time because usually let’s say you’re going to the office every day or as it’s now from time to time, besides from being a commuter, you also go on holidays and two different places where you’re, you act more of tourists. So, you always have this story ‘when I was somewhere and I tried to get the bus or the tram and tried to do something there’. But I wish I had this thing, I mean on my mobile app or something else that would have improved my experience then. So yeah, it’s pretty common to us to discuss something from firsthand there.
MM: Well, obviously you and I know each other, but you’ve done a fair bit of traveling in different countries and kind of all over the globe, but you know, are there things that are really like common themes like that you see in transit, like even in tech or outside of tech like that could be, you know, in the states or in Europe or some kind of all over, or things that are very different. Because I’m just curious for probably some of our listeners that haven’t been to as many different places and you know, tested out as much, you know public transit across the globe?
LG: Oh yeah, we are, we are seeing a lot of common things between different agencies, I would say even continents in different countries and stuff like that. Usually we are also with the common solutions there, there are also these common issues. So, something really cool here is that once you see some agency that is resolving some issue in some way and you see another agency that is struggling with the same issue. The good thing is here that you can always suggest that to the other agency. It’s like, you know a lot of, you’re gathering a lot of expertise, the main expertise. So that’s really nice. But there are also a lot of differences. The differences that we are usually seeing in the different places around the globe are made up of the different ways how the agencies are trying to, basically how the agencies are getting their money, is it from the riders or some budget or some fundings. So this is something that we consider every time we go to a new client because depending on that approach, they’re usually operating in a different way. So, with everything in a different way you see different issues and different approaches to…
ММ: Yeah, it’s really cool. Is there any ever, and there may not be, but was there any other like crazy thing you saw in some other part of the world inside transit or interesting or ‘Hey, I’ve never seen that before anywhere else’. And I know I’m putting you on the spot. I’m just curious.
LG: Well to be honest, I’m not really, in terms of how technology helps agencies to cover those strange things – there are not, but we’ve seen a lot of strange behaviors. I don’t know in the way how the transport work, which is not really yeah, in the people, which is not directly related to the technology there.
MM: Yep, honestly, that’s always the, the caveat, every country in place will have is some funny folks. But yeah, so I mean, so you’ve built and worked on a lot of different mobility projects, you know, in the space, so I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of, hey, this is what really makes a project go really well, here’s how one can kind of go sideways pretty quickly and we make sure it doesn’t happen again. But what does, like a successful mobility product like look like or could you kinda describe like how you make sure things kind of stay on the rails or, you know, for us who don’t get to see kind of how the sausage is made?
MM: Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good question. I partially mentioned about me as a commuter and also me as a tourist. So this is one way to look at the things and we are doing it every time with each client because we have smaller agencies, we have bigger agencies and it’s not really about the size every time, but it’s about the place they’re operating. So, let’s say you’re an agency where 60% of the people are not commuters and they’re tourists that are just come and go every day and they’re just different types of users, right? You have to provide the service for them. Yeah, they need to use somehow your service and you need it. It’s, I mean, it’s up to you to make the whole effort for the user to use your service as soon as possible.
Usually the questions that we are trying to answer for these cases is, let’s say if you’re a tourist, the most important things to you are how to get from point A to point B with which transport type, if you’re coming with a car where you can park it and all the, all the related questions to these while, when you’re a commuter, usually, you know where you’re going, and the questions there are mostly when the, when my vehicle will come because you’re on a tight schedule. I mean it’s just part of your day that you’re not overthinking and you’re doing it every day and the successful mobility products, it’s something that will solve the issues for both types of clients and to me this is one of the biggest challenges there because we need to be able to build up that brings for both types of users the information needed but to give it soon as possible I mean and by as soon as possible I mean that was the time from downloading the app until you have a pass in your hand on what’s the time of opening the app to see when is the next vehicle that is coming let’s say a bus or tram or something. Yeah, that’s usually the cases that we are checking with each client.
MM: And I know that’s a theme that kind of runs throughout your teams, you know design and when working on things is that simplicity like how do we keep things very simple, like to get somebody from that point A to kind of point B, but does that drive a lot of the how product is created or looks or feels, is with kind of that mindset or are there other like important things that you guys and gals were thinking about when building?
MM: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I guess kind of on the flip side you’ve obviously built a lot of successful projects and to be able to do that you have to fight through hurdles and challenges and things like that. But are there any kind of like common headwinds that come up or like just challenges in general that, you know, you’ve maybe seen a bunch and now we know how to step over or around or through or things that you set up so we don’t have to worry about those. But what are some of those common, you know, challenges that you and your team face when working on new projects?
LG: Well I can start by saying that in terms of product development and working with transit, it’s not really in real life there, it’s not really as it’s written in the books, so it’s a great fun working and trying to achieve something that you’ve read something or you know how it should happen, but it never happens that way. I believe it’s the same way with the rest of the team. It’s just, we are the first people to realize that and to have to adapt. So, there are a lot of challenges, challenges. I believe there are a lot of challenges in building any product. It’s not really the transit products, but it’s yet another product that you’re building for someone who sometimes has, let’s say one type of interest, but the same product will be used by third type of person. So, it’s tricky one.
You need to be able to handle the requirements for the agency, but also be on the same page with the agency, how the app should be, should feel and how I should react when it’s in the hands of the of the rider; usually that’s something that I wouldn’t say we’re struggling. It just needs some more time to be on the same page there. We are always trying to suggest something new, something that we’ve seen that it works on the other places. One more thing that usually we do and I think it works really well is trying to improve the communication from the rider to the agency because most of the time the agency, I mean the communication agency-rider is just one way communication. Yeah, most of the times the agency doesn’t know what the rider thinks or let’s say the agency knows only feedback from the most vocal riders are the 20%, you know?
MM: Yeah. You only hear from the very upset people or the very happy people.
LG: Yes. Yes, exactly. And the and the people in the middle that you’re talking about, they’re usually the one with the most meaningful suggestions and the good feedback that you need to. ..
MM: Yeah, exactly. And so I know we only have a few minutes left here but what kind of new tech or items or even just kind of things have you guys been working on lately that kind of get you really excited about like the future and kind of where mobility is going, what are some of those things that you guys, even if they’re not built now, but just some of the things that you know the team is kind of mulling over and looking at, how do we create?
LG: Well one of the things that I’m excited about, I would say we are trying to organize some of the services that we’re seeing around the cities. Okay, these are different types of services you know. Now the whole pandemic situation created a lot of demand for different services at the same time, the transport services, it was a bit left behind or any services for transportation, even if they’re from the private sector, you know all the scooters and all the bike share services, stuff like that. Now we are seeing they’re all, I mean the demand is coming back but we are ending up with a couple of different apps for every single thing you want to do the last time I was in the States, it happened to me to use the public transport and also some other first and last mile services so I had to install, I would say nine different apps to get the things done during the day and it was crazy. I mean if I had to put my credit cards in nine different apps and do the whole registration process and stuff like that is something that drives me crazy, to be honest.
MM: And that’s coming from someone who knows apps really well.
LG: Yeah, exactly, I think that we are trying to improve here and I’m really excited to see something in real life really soon is basically combining if not all at least most of the services there. I think this will of course save some space on my mobile phone but also it will make my life easier if we have just a single sign on for something. I’m not going to say database but a single account which will be my account that I can use for different services and I think that’s the first step. Once you have this up you’re basically telling ‘okay guys, look we have these services and they’re all in land in one place’. We can improve the communication as I mentioned on the previous question to some of those services, let’s say the public transit, how can we, let’s say improve the interaction of the rider to different services different from the mobility services and that’s a question that I mean, it’s a rhetorical question, we can add more services there. So, this is something that I’m really excited about.
MM: Absolutely and that’s what everyone thinks. Yeah, I was gonna say, I think everyone can agree it would be very nice to have fewer places to remember sign ons and passwords and logging in for specific things but that is that’s about all the time that we have for today, everybody. So, I want to make sure we of course, thank Lyubo for joining us, being on the show. Taking some time out to kind of give us a little peek behind the curtain into the product world and how things are created and what they’re working on. So again, Lyubo. Thanks for the time being on today.
LG: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
MM: So if everyone enjoyed the podcast, please make sure you subscribe so that you can be notified when we push out a new episode, rate and review it. Honestly, if you didn’t like it, let us know, give us some feedback and hopefully you did, but share it with some friends and colleagues in the industry. But again, we want to thank everybody for listening. I hope you’re having a good day and enjoyed some of these takeaways. But until next time we’ll chat and have a good everybody!