Increasingly, building a successful startup involves not only building a product that people can’t get enough of, but also building an engaged, loyal community around that product. But while many founders are eager to invest in community, they often don’t know what they’ll need to understand to build one the right way. Before diving in and hiring a dedicated community team, I’ve learned, founders need to have a strong grasp of two essential concepts.
The job of “Product Manager” is nominally impossible, and perhaps so are its deliverables. The role and scope of “Product Manager” varies between companies, but the role centers on deciding what to build. A “Great PM” is excellent in one area, good in at least one other, and doesn’t have time for more than two.
Jason asmartbear product@
The funnel is failing marketers, salespeople, customer success agents, and frankly, customers. It doesn’t take into account third-party review sites, peer-to-peer recommendations, or word-of-mouth; the handover process is messy and puts teams at odds with each other, and more often than not, it rewards high numbers rather than providing a good customer experience.
Ask: which action requires least input and will bring me the highest output? Go through your to-do list. Don’t see any actions that 10x your growth? Go for a walk and brainstorm them. 10% of your to-do list should be activities that take 10 min of your time and boost your product’s growth by 10 times. But you don’t want to be a dreamer with no cash. So you invest other 90% into things that move your startup forward (building and selling).
Great PMs are always on the lookout for ways to create and capitalize on new points of leverage. Fortunately, many organizations are sitting on a gold mine of customer insights — a group of coworkers that are fully immersed in the customer experience: customer service. Product and customer teams are traditionally not well-integrated, though. But they could be.
It started with a crazy idea. Phil Knights’ crazy idea. Over the years, Phil’s & Nike’s journey has been full of many ups and downs. The path to building a great company is full of challenges. Startups often face a multitude of problems. Before starting Nike, Phil Knight had two different sales jobs that he barely made any sales from (as he didn’t believe in them). But with Nike it was different. He believed in the shoes and that made a difference.
Webflow recently hit milestones that most PLG companies only dream of: $100M ARR, 200,000+ customers, $4B valuation, and $120M in Series C funding. Reaching them didn’t happen overnight. Webflow was founded 10 years ago in 2012. In 2019, it raised a $72 million Series A and went into hyper-growth mode. As Webflow attracted capital, they started to aggressively add sales to the initial product-led, self-service motion.
Kyle openviewpartners growth@
We have a systematic, growth-focussed “why” behind every sprint. We did our beta launch in April 2020. And ever since then, as we took the first steps towards building out a team, we’ve been thinking about one specific thing: How do we make sure that growth as a discipline isn’t removed from product, engineering, and design teams, and instead becomes a core driver for their work?
There’s a huge difference between shipping a product, soft launching, and launching. And there’s no rule that says you can only launch once. It took a fair amount of effort for me to divorce these ideas in my own mind. The novice mindset of “if you build it, they will come” is still one of those pervasive attitudes that prevents us from being successful. And yet as developers it’s so natural to labor over our project and then, upon shipping it, think to ourselves “I’m finally done!”
Over 7.5 million blog posts are published every day. Some of the pieces that make it to the first page of Google are regurgitated content, with no real substance or value to the reader. This begs the question, “Why do we create content?” I bet you haven’t thought about this question in a while. Most B2B SaaS companies follow the crowd when it comes to content creation.
Jessica Tee foundationinc seo@
Our strength lies in knowing when we should follow standard best practices for design and when we need to innovate and create something new. We focus on the problem and finding the right design to solve it. We try to default to existing design conventions, but if those don’t exist, or if they’re not good enough, we create something new that does solve the problem.
“The most fertile source of insight is hindsight.” Startups are often urged to keep driving forward; to hit new targets, build more, and grow faster, bigger, better. As Jotform recently turned 15, and unveiled our first new brand in over a decade, I’ve been inspired to pause and look back in the rear-view mirror. I launched the company in 2006, driven by a vision to create simple web forms. So much has changed since those early days.
Improving onboarding is one of the best ways to drive retention and is a key driver of a product-led business. Even incremental improvements have an outsized impact on the business. The most effective onboarding strategy is tailoring the experience based on user needs. We saw tons of success with it at Dropbox and since starting Switchboard I’ve spoken with many other leading companies, like Postman and Airtable, that have had similar results.
Phil switchboard onboarding@
I’ve been giving a talk on the importance of learning from failure to every YC batch for last few years. You might remember us from 2012 we launched Pebble on Kickstarter and raised over $10m from 68,000 people around the world. We succeeded at inventing the smartwatch and an entirely new product category. But we failed to create a sustainable, profitable business.
Most first-time SaaS founders are obsessed with building their product. It makes sense—a successful product is a qualifying criteria for startup success. But if you ask a second-time founder what keeps them up at night, it’s distribution. The difference in approach to building a product the first-time versus second-time is an understanding of what comes next.