Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2011 (Revised November 2012)

Product Development at OPOWER

by Thomas Eisenmann and Rob Go


OPOWER, a software startup that helps utilities engage their customers in ways that reduce energy consumption, is scaling rapidly. The company's new head of product management has designed a system to address a point of constant tension: whether to build custom features in response to new customers' requests, even if these custom features entail expensive departures from OPOWER's product roadmap. The system grants Sales a number of tokens it can "spend" annually on engineering work to build custom features—boosting the odds of signing contracts with new customers. In December 2010, a request for proposal from a very large utility will put the token system to the test, because the customer is demanding a custom feature that would be unusually disruptive to develop.

Keywords: Business Startups; Customer Relationship Management; Entrepreneurship; Growth Management; Product Development; Sales; Customization and Personalization; Energy Conservation; Environmental Sustainability; Information Technology Industry; Utilities Industry;


Eisenmann, Thomas, and Rob Go. "Product Development at OPOWER." Harvard Business School Case 811-075, February 2011. (Revised November 2012.) (request a courtesy copy.)