Product & Startup Builder

Pricing Strategy

Added on by Chris Saad.

Pricing strategy is a very interesting game of psychology, unit economics and gamification. 

In two sided marketplaces it gets even more interesting. There are so many counter-intuitive ways to get creative to drive the kind of demand and supply side behavior you want.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Recruiting Is A Real Art

Added on by Chris Saad.

It’s a cliché these days to say people are the most important part of any company. But it’s absolutely true.

Hiring strong people, particularly product managers, is a real art. 

Prior to my experience at Uber, I considered myself pretty poor at interviewing and recruiting candidates. 

However, seeing how Uber does it up close, and going through many, many, many interviews as part of the hypergrowth the company was experiencing, really gave me new insights into how to do it well.

One of my favorite compliments I received after leaving Uber was how effective a team builder I was.

Even though people can really make or break a company’s success, I find that most startups really don’t know how to recruit for key roles. So these days I’m increasingly helping the startups I work with think through how to describe their job requirements, find and reach out to candidates, and build interview loops that really test for a great fit with the company’s needs.

It’s so rewarding finding amazing people to supercharge the dreams of founders.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Product Is About Nuance Across Multiple Dimensions

Added on by Chris Saad.

Product is about nuance across multiple dimensions - context, intent, markets, personalities and more. 

As someone who started out as an engineer, I’ve made the mistake of forgetting this over and over in my career. 

As a (good) Engineer, you want to generalize things as much as possible. You want to look for common patterns and implement as few entities and workflows as possible.

An asset is an asset, right?

Wrong. 

As a Product Manager you need to understand the difference between Persona A and B, Use Case A and B, Intent A and B etc. they can and should be very, very different. 

Word choice, framing, UX metaphors etc should all radically change even while the underlying entities might remain the same. 

The goal is not maximum system elegance/rationalization but, rather, maximum user understanding/alignment with their existing mental models and needs.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Sell Your Own Product!

Added on by Chris Saad.

In the early days of a b2c startup, doing bizdev activity for b2b2c distribution can feel so fun and gratifying. 

It can feel like high-momentum, effective work that allows you to lock down glossy brands and partnerships who might get you big batches of users through the door. It also feels great to announce them to friends, family, media etc.

Often times, though, the reality is much, much different.  Why? Because...

  • They often move very, very slowly. 

  • They demand new features and behaviors that are tangential or orthogonal to your core product and business strategy. 

  • They change their mind mid-stream

  • If you eventually get to ship the partnership/co-marketing program the results/conversion are often much, much smaller than you expect

  • If the results are marginal (which they almost always are at the beginning), your partner will often give up quickly and not put in the effort to optimise

For all these reasons, and many more, bizdev partnerships for a b2c app is really something to push off for later as a long-term bet and moat.

Instead, there's an axiom that says "Sell your own product'

Often times this feels like a harder, more data driven grind. However if you crack it (and you need to crack it!), it's high-scale, repeatable and has a huge, huge upside. It also forces you to really polish your product so that the user acquisition and retention really works.

Originally Posted On Facebook

What does MVP Really Mean?

Added on by Chris Saad.

An interesting phenomena I’ve noticed when advising startups is the shallow understanding of what MVP means. Almost everybody uses the term now, but few understand how to successfully operationalize it.

  • It’s often difficult to determine exactly what the MVP is. It’s partly science and it’s partly art. The answer often requires a mix of experience and taste.

  • Often, after building the MVP, they continue to build more and more product without going deep on user acquisition and feedback.

  • Sometimes they build multiple MVPs of multiple major product areas leaving much of the product surface area in a largely broken state.

Remember, the purpose of an MVP is to get it into customer’s hands and learn and grow with your shared understanding. You need to continue to iterate and polish it until you can see your own face in the reflection.

Remember it’s “ship and iterate”, not “Build, build, build”. Shipping doesn’t mean just putting it on production. It also means putting it into customer’s hands at as much scale as possible.

Originally Posted On Facebook

When Is Advice Mandatory vs. Optional?

Added on by Chris Saad.

Founders sometimes ask me if some piece of conventional wisdom they've heard or the advice that I'm giving is "necessary" or "mandatory".

I always try to explain that almost all of the tactics and advice I'm sharing can only increase the probabilities of success. It can't guarantee it. There's also always a chance you can succeed without following any given piece of "best practice" advice.

That being said, if you start bending or breaking too many of these guidelines you really start to diminish your chances of success.

Funny enough, many of the lessons I share day-to-day were not learned from a book or from someone else giving me the advice - I had to learn them the hard way by ignoring the advice in the first place (thinking I had a better way) and finding out I was wrong.

What Is One Of The Biggest Challenge That Young Startups Face?

Added on by Chris Saad.

One of the biggest challenges so many young startups with global disruption ambitions face is an addiction to revenue. 

In the early stages a startup’s life its job is to grow - fast - not to make revenue or profit. That’s why they raise enough capital to invest in growth for the first few years.

Undue focus on revenue forces decisions that can be massively distracting, undermine focus, create overstuffed products and stunt growth - ultimately killing the company.

Instead: Focus on what users need. Focus on doing just a few things well. Focus on product polish. Focus on repeatable, scalable workflows. Focus on removing pain and friction. Focus on building something that people love (the hardest thing in the world).

Defocusing revenue also allows you to consider disrupting rather than partnering with incumbents. It’s very easy to run to where the money and scale is. However often times a tech startup should be killing not helping some of the legacy players in an ecosystem. Or at the very least forcing them to play by new rules. 

Originally Posted On Facebook

Execution Is Not All About Action

Added on by Chris Saad.

One of my colleagues on ‘execution’:

“People always hear that execution is everything in startups. 

The problem is that they think “execution” is all about more action. But that’s like an amateur running onto a pro basketball court and running around throwing the ball in the air. 

Execution is about getting the ball in the hoop and all of the skill, experience and muscle memory it takes to make that happen”.

Originally Posted On Facebook