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Why You’ll Eventually Need A
Product Manager At Your Startup
Rich Mironov
28 July 2015
©	
  Rich	
  Mironov,	
  2014	
  
Early	
  Stage	
  
•  Veteran	
  product	
  manager/exec/strategist	
  
•  Business	
  models,	
  agile,	
  organizing	
  product	
  teams	
  
•  6	
  startups	
  as	
  “product	
  guy”	
  or	
  CEO	
  
•  The	
  Art	
  of	
  Product	
  Management	
  	
  
•  First	
  Product	
  Camp,	
  first	
  agile	
  product	
  	
  
owner	
  track,	
  blogging	
  since	
  2001	
  
ABOUT RICH MIRONOV
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 2
•  What do product managers do?
•  Why (small) startups don’t have them
•  Growth creates problems
•  You’ll need your first product
manager at 12-30 employees
AGENDA
3w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
market information, priorities,
requirements, roadmaps, epics,
user stories, backlogs,
personas, MRDs…
product
bits
strategy, forecasts,
commitments, roadmaps,
competitive intelligence
budgets, staff,
targets
Field input,
Market feedback
Segmentation, messages,
benefits/features, pricing,
qualification, demos…
Markets &
CustomersDevelopment
Marketing
& Sales
Executives
Product
Management
WHAT DOES A PRODUCT MANAGER DO?
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 4
5
WE CAN PRODUCT
MANAGE OURSELVES
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
CEO	
  
CTO	
  
Dev	
  Dev/UX	
  
Dev/Build	
  
STARTUP DON’T NEED ORG CHARTS
OR FORMAL PROCESSES
6w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
Pitch,	
  funding,	
  biz	
  
model,	
  vision,	
  BD,	
  
sales,	
  markeRng,	
  
PR,	
  legal,	
  office	
  
space,	
  payroll…	
  
Architecture,	
  code,	
  
hiring,	
  customer	
  
pitches,	
  hiring,	
  code,	
  
resolve	
  tech	
  
disputes…	
  
Front	
  end,	
  code,	
  UX/
UI,	
  mobile	
  client,	
  
code,	
  “how	
  it	
  
works,”	
  user	
  support	
  
Back	
  end,	
  code,	
  
cloud,	
  data	
  &	
  APIs,	
  
code,	
  security,	
  code,	
  
performance,	
  code…	
  
Code,	
  repository,	
  
build,	
  code,	
  backup,	
  
plaXorms,	
  testbed…	
  
SUCCESSFUL STARTUPS GROW
7w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
CEO	
  
Mktg	
  
Social	
  
Sales	
  
US	
   EMEA	
  
ROW	
   Bus	
  Dev	
  
COO	
  
RecruiRng	
  
Finance	
  
Eng	
  
Team1	
   Team2	
  
SysOps	
  
15+ PEOPLE FORM AN ORGANIZATION
8w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  Departments
•  N2
employee conversations
•  Current customers’ expectations
•  Multiple deals from sales/BD
•  Focus on immediate revenue
•  What’s the status of x or y or z
(and can we ship it NOW)?
PROBLEMS AT SCALE
9w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
GOOD IDEA TRAIN
•  Pulls into product station every day
•  From customers, sales, CEO, eng, competitors, surveys…
•  Unloads hundreds of “good ideas” each day
•  Most are not new, inconsistent, not worth displacing current work
•  Eng can implements 2-3 good ideas per week
10w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
My urgency somehow creates resources
•  “CEO says it’s really important.”
•  “We already promised it to a big prospect.”
•  “How hard could it be?  Probably
10 lines of code.”
•  “We’ve been talking about this for months.”
•  “Engineering should be more productive.”
MAGICAL BACKLOG THINKING
11w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  Requests always >> capacity
•  Fulfilling all requests is bad
•  Can’t A/B test everything
•  Bottom-up feature lists
don’t create strategy
PRIORITIZATION LAWS OF GRAVITY
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 12
1.  One backlog despite pressures and promises
2.  Represent broad set of customers/users
3.  Details and facts: what does it really do today?
4.  Curate the product/target segment
5.  Work the issues, speak
the truth
TITLES DON’T MATTER
SOMEONE NEEDS TO MANAGE THE
PRODUCT
13w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  “We’re proud to say that our startup does not hire
product managers”
•  “I’ve never seen a product manager do a good job.”
•  “We have growth hackers,
product owners and
customer champions”
CAN BE A RELIGIOUS ISSUE
14w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  Goal is to get more (of the right things) done
•  Lightest/leanest tools, fewest meetings
•  Templates don’t
replace judgment
•  Be a mensch, not
(just) an MBA
“JUST ENOUGH” PRODUCT
MANAGEMENT
15w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  Sounds sexier than it is
•  My key hiring criteria
1.  PREVIOUS product management experience
2.  Technical enough to be respected
3.  Co-located with engineers
4.  Product taste
5.  Subject/segment expertise
•  First-timers need a mentor
NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A
PRODUCT MANAGER (OR SHOULD BE)
16w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
CONTACT
Rich Mironov, CEO
Mironov Consulting
233 Franklin St, Suite #308
San Francisco, CA 94102
RichMironov	
  
@RichMironov
Rich@Mironov.com	
  
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 17

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Why You’ll Eventually Need A Product Manager At Your Startup

  • 1. Why You’ll Eventually Need A Product Manager At Your Startup Rich Mironov 28 July 2015 ©  Rich  Mironov,  2014   Early  Stage  
  • 2. •  Veteran  product  manager/exec/strategist   •  Business  models,  agile,  organizing  product  teams   •  6  startups  as  “product  guy”  or  CEO   •  The  Art  of  Product  Management     •  First  Product  Camp,  first  agile  product     owner  track,  blogging  since  2001   ABOUT RICH MIRONOV w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 2
  • 3. •  What do product managers do? •  Why (small) startups don’t have them •  Growth creates problems •  You’ll need your first product manager at 12-30 employees AGENDA 3w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 4. market information, priorities, requirements, roadmaps, epics, user stories, backlogs, personas, MRDs… product bits strategy, forecasts, commitments, roadmaps, competitive intelligence budgets, staff, targets Field input, Market feedback Segmentation, messages, benefits/features, pricing, qualification, demos… Markets & CustomersDevelopment Marketing & Sales Executives Product Management WHAT DOES A PRODUCT MANAGER DO? w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 4
  • 5. 5 WE CAN PRODUCT MANAGE OURSELVES w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 6. CEO   CTO   Dev  Dev/UX   Dev/Build   STARTUP DON’T NEED ORG CHARTS OR FORMAL PROCESSES 6w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m Pitch,  funding,  biz   model,  vision,  BD,   sales,  markeRng,   PR,  legal,  office   space,  payroll…   Architecture,  code,   hiring,  customer   pitches,  hiring,  code,   resolve  tech   disputes…   Front  end,  code,  UX/ UI,  mobile  client,   code,  “how  it   works,”  user  support   Back  end,  code,   cloud,  data  &  APIs,   code,  security,  code,   performance,  code…   Code,  repository,   build,  code,  backup,   plaXorms,  testbed…  
  • 7. SUCCESSFUL STARTUPS GROW 7w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 8. CEO   Mktg   Social   Sales   US   EMEA   ROW   Bus  Dev   COO   RecruiRng   Finance   Eng   Team1   Team2   SysOps   15+ PEOPLE FORM AN ORGANIZATION 8w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 9. •  Departments •  N2 employee conversations •  Current customers’ expectations •  Multiple deals from sales/BD •  Focus on immediate revenue •  What’s the status of x or y or z (and can we ship it NOW)? PROBLEMS AT SCALE 9w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 10. GOOD IDEA TRAIN •  Pulls into product station every day •  From customers, sales, CEO, eng, competitors, surveys… •  Unloads hundreds of “good ideas” each day •  Most are not new, inconsistent, not worth displacing current work •  Eng can implements 2-3 good ideas per week 10w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 11. My urgency somehow creates resources •  “CEO says it’s really important.” •  “We already promised it to a big prospect.” •  “How hard could it be?  Probably 10 lines of code.” •  “We’ve been talking about this for months.” •  “Engineering should be more productive.” MAGICAL BACKLOG THINKING 11w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 12. •  Requests always >> capacity •  Fulfilling all requests is bad •  Can’t A/B test everything •  Bottom-up feature lists don’t create strategy PRIORITIZATION LAWS OF GRAVITY w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 12
  • 13. 1.  One backlog despite pressures and promises 2.  Represent broad set of customers/users 3.  Details and facts: what does it really do today? 4.  Curate the product/target segment 5.  Work the issues, speak the truth TITLES DON’T MATTER SOMEONE NEEDS TO MANAGE THE PRODUCT 13w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 14. •  “We’re proud to say that our startup does not hire product managers” •  “I’ve never seen a product manager do a good job.” •  “We have growth hackers, product owners and customer champions” CAN BE A RELIGIOUS ISSUE 14w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 15. •  Goal is to get more (of the right things) done •  Lightest/leanest tools, fewest meetings •  Templates don’t replace judgment •  Be a mensch, not (just) an MBA “JUST ENOUGH” PRODUCT MANAGEMENT 15w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 16. •  Sounds sexier than it is •  My key hiring criteria 1.  PREVIOUS product management experience 2.  Technical enough to be respected 3.  Co-located with engineers 4.  Product taste 5.  Subject/segment expertise •  First-timers need a mentor NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A PRODUCT MANAGER (OR SHOULD BE) 16w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 17. CONTACT Rich Mironov, CEO Mironov Consulting 233 Franklin St, Suite #308 San Francisco, CA 94102 RichMironov   @RichMironov Rich@Mironov.com   w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 17