FuturU hires Michaela Usakova as new VP Product

A photo of Michaela Usakova, FuturU’s new VP Product

We’re excited to announce Michaela Usakova has joined FuturU as our first VP of Product. She joins us from Goodwall, a skills-based social network for students and graduates, where she was Chief Product Officer for almost three years. 

Michaela has more than a decade’s experience working in tech, starting out in product manager roles at Electronic Arts (EA) and Microsoft. More recently, she has worked for and advised high-growth startups in the gaming and education sectors, including Goodwall and Memrise. 

In this interview, she shares more about her career journey to-date, why she decided to join FuturU and how she hopes to make an impact in the role.

What are some moments from your career that stand out to you?

I’ve had the privilege of working in a number of incredible companies – from startups to much larger tech companies. When I was working for social gaming startup Playfish (later acquired by Electronic Arts), we were getting 10 million daily active users at our peak. The content was so successful that we were making around $200-300k per week in revenue, which was pretty unique at the time. 

Another memorable moment was during my time as Chief Product Officer at language learning app Memrise, whose mission was to make language learning fun and engaging. The company won the Best App of Google Play Award 2017 and secured a spot in Apple’s Top 10 Best of Appstore 2016, which was a huge career highlight.

What excites you most about startups?

I love joining companies during their formative stages, where I can contribute to shaping their vision and direction. In my most recent role at Goodwall, we embarked on a mission to enhance learning and earning opportunities for disadvantaged communities. Before I joined, the company had already been on the market for a few years and they had pivoted a couple of times trying to find their value proposition. I had this idea for turning Goodwall into a skills-oriented social network, where individuals could define their skills, seek feedback, and connect with others who shared similar interests. As users upskilled, they would unlock opportunities such as internships and rewards. We also got to work with some incredible partners like SAP, Accenture and Unicef.

Despite the differences in demographics between Goodwall and FuturU, both companies share a common thread of delivering impactful solutions to their respective communities, which is something that resonates with me.

Why did you choose to join FuturU?

FuturU’s intense focus on technological innovation really appeals to me. I love that we’re bringing something completely new to the market and not afraid to experiment with cutting-edge technology. 

FuturU is also solving a very important problem. I’ve lived in countries all over the world facing similar challenges with their healthcare system and have family members who have worked in the field, so it’s exciting to work for a company that has so much potential to do good in the world.

What does success look like for you in this role?

Initially, my focus will be on defining a clear value proposition for both users and partners, as well as creating a product strategy and roadmap based on user research and feedback. Success for me in the first few months will involve validating key assumptions, refining the product roadmap, and establishing a strong foundation for future growth.

Michael Manuccia, CEO at FuturU, said: “Michaela’s strong experience in the learning and gaming sectors, coupled with her global mindset and passion for our mission, will be invaluable in helping FuturU reinvent healthcare education for millions of professionals worldwide. The challenges we’re solving are hard, so we need ambitious thinkers who can push us to be bold and unapologetic in our vision for the future.”

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