Product Management at Early Stage

Putting together a new project is both easy and hard, at the exact same time, especially from an engineering perspective.

I know that there are 1,000 things that I need to be doing, many of them at the same time, to get things moving in the right direction and yet I am also confident that I have the experience to move things forward and that if anything falls through the so-called cracks that they will be picked up over time.

This is because early stage product development is more of an experience than a process, more of an art than it is a science, and maintaining a certain level of joy in the work is just as important as building something that people (i.e. customers) actually, eventually, want.

And if you don’t like what you’re working on then there’s no point in building it in the first place, full stop.

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More Than Just Engineering

I’m back in company-building mode, which means that my head naturally moves to more than just product and engineering. Putting the pieces together operationally is fun in all the right ways, even the more monotonous parts. This is mostly because I consider it an honor and a privilege to build something that people want.

In addition, I have this positive attitude because it means that we’ve landed on something that is resonating with folks. Not just myself and the team but also some of the financial backers that we’re beginning to have conversations and with, of course and most importantly, some of the early (future) users of the product.

Clearly we’ve hit a touch-point for both engineers and software development teams and the larger organizations that house them.

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Thoughts on a Developer-Centric News Feed

A few weeks ago the internet celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the so-called “News Feed,” which was universally popularized by Facebook.

For those who were late to the party, this technology and experience was hated when it first came out but eventually it forced its way into our daily user experience through cunning, iteration, mass adoption, and perhaps a little peer pressure to boot.

And, to be honest, it got people to stick around, engage, and it became a fairly copacetic relationship between the users and Facebook, as a business. And today, regardless of what you think about Facebook’s News Feed, we all can heartily agree that it’s here to stay. And, it has inspired many other companies to follow suit.

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On Developers and Social Networks

The first two startups that I put together were both in the social networking space, one related to a massively multiplayer online RPG and the second was essentially a niche version of Twitter.

Both projects were acquired (and that was nice) but these events were more significant in the fact that they opened my eyes to entrepreneurship and the distinct possibility of pursuing this avenue as a career for myself.

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Win Them Over

I’ve been thinking more and more about the individual developer, the challenges that they face, and the daily needs that they have (like standups and other such engineering activities).

And the more and more that I’ve focused my conversations around the individual engineer the more I’ve been reminded that they (we) are the key to the very future of our world.

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On Standups and Daily Engineering Activities

As we all know, the most important thing when putting together a new project and/or product is that you actually build something that people want (among the other two important ingredients):

You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible.

Part of the process of putting together a worthwhile endeavor is getting that second thing right and it really is the hardest thing to do of the three. There are a lot of products out there that are fun, neat to use, and even entertaining but they aren’t essential to life and/or business.

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Building for Real Behavior

The challenge with building products that people really love is identifying real behavior, not fictitious, manufactured, or fabricated behavior.

From another angle, it’s so easy to deceive ourselves into believing that what we are building really is the problem that most people are having when it’s actually not. I think many product builders and engineers are susceptible to these fallacies; I know that I am.

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A Few Screenshots of the “August Prototype”

As I have done for the last few months (June and July) I wanted to continue to share a few more updated screenshots of what I’m putting together so you all can continue to get a sense of the momentum that’s being built behind-the-scenes.

And as I survey even the last few months it’s fascinating to review the changes myself as it becomes even more obvious how much work has been done and how much more exciting the project is becoming.

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