Meet Ellie.

Ellie Borrowdale, Product Director at Pollen. Check out Pollen on LinkedIn and you will see Pollen as a Global Tech business with over 600 employees. Big business, big role, a scaling business which is less than 10 years old and closed $60M during their 2019 Series B funding round.

Ellie joined Pollen 2 years ago around the time of their series B fundraising, they were very much in start-up, scale-up phase. Ellie joined as a Senior Product Manager, now two years on Ellie is the Director of Product and recently spoke to Adrienne Howlett, as part of the Product 51 podcast. Ellie might be viewed by many as someone who is now sat at the top of the Product tree, however, how did she get there and how did joining a start-up called Drover help her on this journey?

If you’ve not listened to the Product 51 podcast featuring Ellie, we would definitely recommend you check it out here. We also summarised some of Ellie’s key learns and shared them in the below article for you.

Before we go any further though, why are we talking about this and why do we find this interesting? 

Throughout the pandemic more and more start-ups opened with 672,890 new companies founded in 2020 alone, showing a 22% increase of companies open from the previous year. Why are people doing this? Let’s be honest some people were able to use the pandemic as a catalyst to achieve their dream of opening their own business. That’s certainly resonates with us at Digital 51. However, some people were not that lucky and starting their own business quickly was a necessity as their old job simply disappeared.

We’d argue it’s never been easier to create a start-up. We are not saying start-ups are easy, but with increased access to technology, the digital revolution we have all experienced in the past 18 months and desire, now really has been a boom time for start-ups.

So back to Ellie, why did she choose to join a scaling start-up? 

‘The perks’ as Ellie saw them, were the main draw. What perks I hear you ask? Setting the tone of how you want things done, setting the methodology, enjoying the close-knit start-up culture. Ellie was thrown into this all on her own when she joined Drover. The first few months were not easy. But as time progressed Ellie felt more in control and felt able to figure out what she needed from her product team; she also felt ready to bring in new people. Being in a start-up allowed Ellie to do all of this the way she wanted and that was a real-world example of ‘the perks’ in action.

We also wanted to know what it’s really like inside a start-up, what makes it great? 

Ellie talks a lot about the culture, the feel and the close-knit team, but what does that mean in practice? A good example is Ellie found it much easier to train and communicate with the new team members she hired within the start-up environment. The working space was small enough to work together easily, to create a culture between the team and build success. This environment, combined with Ellie’s belief in autonomous working really brought out the best in her new team.

If one thing is clear from speaking to Ellie, it is that she threw herself into the opportunity at Drover and that literally ‘drove her’ (yes we said that) to create change and deliver success. That success led to the opportunity at Pollen. Ellie now works for a global leading business and has achieved two fantastic promotions during her time in that business.

Arguably the allure of start-ups has never been stronger, there is no doubt that the pandemic has taken people away from the desire to just work for big businesses. However, there are start-ups and then there are start-ups. We believe Ellie’s story and journey shows what can be achieved, but you must be brave enough to take the leap in the first place.

Would you be brave enough to take this leap?  We’d love to know.

This article was written by Adrienne Howlett, Product Partner and Founder of Product 51. For more information on what is happening in the Product market right now please reach out to Adi on