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Three Product Challenges for Pre-Revenue Entrepreneurs<br />Rich Mironov<br />Agile Entrepreneurs <br />July 15, 2010<br />
About Rich Mironov<br />Veteran product manager/strategist<br />Business models, pricing, roadmaps<br />“What do customers...
Product Challenges for Founders<br />Agenda<br />What product managers do<br />Three product challenges for founders (befo...
Product<br />Management<br />Executives<br />Development<br />What Does a Product Manager Do?<br />strategy, forecasts, co...
Avoid Post-Course Corrections<br />When NASA wanted to put a man on the moon, they planned a series of mid-course correcti...
Product Challenges for Founders<br />Agenda<br />What product managers do<br />Three product challenges for founders (befo...
Selling & Listening<br />Can’t do both in the same meeting<br />Selling turns off prospects<br />Defensive, waiting for th...
Are You Selling or Listening?<br />You are selling when you…<br />Do most of the talking<br />Anticipate objections<br />P...
Extended Interviews<br />Get inside their heads<br />30+ minute in-person interviews<br />Open-ended questions<br />Record...
Discovery vs. Theories<br />Markets are complex and surprising<br />You learn about the world from customers far from your...
You Have Time to Be Strategic<br />“Urgent” versus “Important”<br />Truly understanding customers and markets will save an...
Product Challenges for Founders<br />Agenda<br />What product managers do<br />Three product challenges for founders (befo...
Prospects Don’t Care About You<br />Your products don’t matter<br />Your costs don’t matter<br />Customers don’t allocate ...
Start with Customer’s View<br />Customers buy most products to make money or save money<br />How do they describe value?<b...
Hard Cost Savings Example<br />“By using our tech support knowledge automator, you can reduce your support time per call b...
No Hand-Waving Allowed!<br />
Telling the Pricing Story<br />Whywill customers buy?<br />Tell a story in customer’s own language<br />What’s the natural...
Product Challenges for Founders<br />Agenda<br />What product managers do<br />Three product challenges for founders (befo...
You Sell Piece Parts<br />Your product fits here<br />Customers make our products into solutions<br />We like to over-simp...
Whole Product Exercise<br />Watch a real customer install your product<br />What does he need?<br />License keys<br />HW/S...
Have Someone Try An Install<br />Recruit an outsider<br />Provide only product materials<br />No hints, no help<br />Watch...
Product Challenges for Founders<br />Agenda<br />What product managers do<br />Three product challenges for founders (befo...
The Minimal Organization<br />CEO/Founder<br />Here<br />CTO/ Founder<br />Strategy and market thinking live in the founde...
Handful of Employees<br />CEO/Founder<br />Here<br />Solution advice<br />CTO/ Founder<br />Devs<br />(2)<br />Strategy an...
Expanded Organization<br />CEO/Founder<br />CTO/ Founder<br />Mktg<br />Sales<br />CFO<br />HR/office <br />Prod<br />Mgmt...
In the Start-Up Lifecycle…<br />
Q&A<br />
Contact Information<br />+1-650-315-7394<br />rich@mironov.com<br />www.mironov.com/articles/<br />feeds.feedburner.com/Ri...
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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 whole-product thinking. Hosted by 'Agile Entrepreneurs'

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Three Product Challenges for Early-Stage Entrepreneurs

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

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