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Three Product Challenges for Early-Stage Entrepreneurs
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Three Product Challenges for Early-Stage Entrepreneurs

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15July2010 talk on "Product Challenges for Pre-Revenue Entrepreneurs" with three things very early-stage tech companies must do: Seriously listening to their markets; construct customer-side ROIs; do ...

15July2010 talk on "Product Challenges for Pre-Revenue Entrepreneurs" with three things very early-stage tech companies must do: Seriously listening to their markets; construct customer-side ROIs; do whole-product thinking. Hosted by 'Agile Entrepreneurs'

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Three Product Challenges for Early-Stage Entrepreneurs Three Product Challenges for Early-Stage Entrepreneurs Presentation Transcript

  • Three Product Challenges for Pre-Revenue Entrepreneurs
    Rich Mironov
    Agile Entrepreneurs
    July 15, 2010
  • About Rich Mironov
    Veteran product manager/strategist
    Business models, pricing, roadmaps
    “What do customers want?”
    Agile meets business
    Repeat offender at software start-ups
    “Product Bytes” blog since 2002
    Mentor capitalist
  • Product Challenges for Founders
    Agenda
    What product managers do
    Three product challenges for founders (before you hire a product manager)
    Seriously listening to your market
    Customer-side ROI
    Whole-product thinking
    An organizational map
  • Product
    Management
    Executives
    Development
    What Does a Product Manager Do?
    strategy, forecasts, commitments, roadmaps,competitive intelligence
    budgets, staff,
    targets
    market information, priorities,
    requirements, roadmaps, MRDs,
    personas, user stories…
    Field input,
    Market feedback
    Mktg & Sales
    Markets & Customers
    software
    Segmentation, messages, benefits/features, pricing, qualification, demos…
  • Avoid Post-Course Corrections
    When NASA wanted to put a man on the moon, they planned a series of mid-course corrections…
  • Product Challenges for Founders
    Agenda
    What product managers do
    Three product challenges for founders (before you hire a product manager)
    Seriously listening to your market
    Customer-side ROI
    Whole-product thinking
    An organizational map
  • Selling & Listening
    Can’t do both in the same meeting
    Selling turns off prospects
    Defensive, waiting for the catch
    Unwilling to give you key information
    It’s all about you
    As soon as you pitch your product, open-ended discussion stops
    Can you listen (= shut up) for 20 minutes?
  • Are You Selling or Listening?
    You are selling when you…
    Do most of the talking
    Anticipate objections
    Plan your arguments
    Understand the material
    Have a goal for the meeting
    You are listening when you…
    Ask open-ended questions
    Take notes
    Repeat for clarification
    Use silence
    Expect to be surprised
  • Extended Interviews
    Get inside their heads
    30+ minute in-person interviews
    Open-ended questions
    Record session if possible
    Ask about…
    How their business works
    What they name things
    What keeps them awake at night (pain)
    Current solutions, alternatives, shortcomings, competitors
    Natural units of work
    Unstated requirements
    How they justify spending (ROI)
  • Discovery vs. Theories
    Markets are complex and surprising
    You learn about the world from customers far from your office
    “What’s the pattern?”
    “Who are the outliers?”
    “How would a customer fit us in?”
    Rule of thumb: you need 8 to 20 in-depth interviews to start seeing patterns
    Your initial theory is always wrong
  • You Have Time to Be Strategic
    “Urgent” versus “Important”
    Truly understanding customers and markets will save an entire product cycle
    Customer language and stories make selling easier
    Postponing market analysis may cost you the company
  • Product Challenges for Founders
    Agenda
    What product managers do
    Three product challenges for founders (before you hire a product manager)
    Seriously listening to your market
    Customer-side ROI
    Whole-product thinking
    An organizational map
  • Prospects Don’t Care About You
    Your products don’t matter
    Your costs don’t matter
    Customers don’t allocate budgets for you
    Purchase approval is hard
    You have to do your customer’s thinking for him
    How will he justify spending money?
  • Start with Customer’s View
    Customers buy most products to make money or save money
    How do they describe value?
    Quantify it for them
    They won’t spend time to fully analyze your product
    Assume you can capture a fraction of value
    B2B: often 5% to 15%
  • Hard Cost Savings Example
    “By using our tech support knowledge automator, you can reduce your support time per call by 30%.”
  • No Hand-Waving Allowed!
  • Telling the Pricing Story
    Whywill customers buy?
    Tell a story in customer’s own language
    What’s the natural unit of exchange?
    How do they derive value? What does the competition do?
    Don’t expect them to think for you
    Test, trial-close, get your hands dirty
  • Product Challenges for Founders
    Agenda
    What product managers do
    Three product challenges for founders (before you hire a product manager)
    Seriously listening to your market
    Customer-side ROI
    Whole-product thinking
    An organizational map
  • You Sell Piece Parts
    Your product fits here
    Customers make our products into solutions
    We like to over-simplify their complicated world
  • Whole Product Exercise
    Watch a real customer install your product
    What does he need?
    License keys
    HW/SW dependencies
    Unsecured online access
    Re-configuration of related products
    Oracle sys admin rights
    Special knowledge
    Contracts, business docs
  • Have Someone Try An Install
    Recruit an outsider
    Provide only product materials
    No hints, no help
    Watch, listen, learn
    Can you…
    Program your DVR?
    Read a cell phone bill?
    Synch calendars?
  • Product Challenges for Founders
    Agenda
    What product managers do
    Three product challenges for founders (before you hire a product manager)
    Seriously listening to your market
    Customer-side ROI
    Whole-product thinking
    An organizational map
  • The Minimal Organization
    CEO/Founder
    Here
    CTO/ Founder
    Strategy and market thinking live in the founders’ heads
  • Handful of Employees
    CEO/Founder
    Here
    Solution advice
    CTO/ Founder
    Devs
    (2)
    Strategy and market thinking still live in the founders’ heads
    Good time for fractional help clarifying market problem, targets, dead-simple messages
  • Expanded Organization
    CEO/Founder
    CTO/ Founder
    Mktg
    Sales
    CFO
    HR/office
    Prod
    Mgmt
    Dev
    (4+)
    Product Manager should be employee #15 or earlier
    Does Marketing or Engineering think more strategically?
  • In the Start-Up Lifecycle…
  • Q&A
  • Contact Information
    +1-650-315-7394
    rich@mironov.com
    www.mironov.com/articles/
    feeds.feedburner.com/RichMironovProductBytes
    @RichMironov
    www.linkedin.com/in/richmironov