Four years ago I was having lunch at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse in Buckhead (they have good $10 lunches) with a local angel investor that was telling me his background (went to GA Tech and then worked for a major enterprise software company for many years). He said something that stuck with me, “Atlanta, and most places outside Silicon Valley, really suffer from a lack of strong product managers with an MBA.” Immediately, I thought to myself that a good product manager doesn’t need an MBA, rather, they need to be able to listen to customers and maintain an opinion of what the product should and should not do.
Here are a few thoughts on product managers in startups:
- It is one of the most critical functions that should not be underrated
- Best done by a co-founder (yes, it’s that important)
- Should balance ideas from prospects, customers, analysts, and competitors
- Needs to have a strong opinion of what gets included and what doesn’t (saying no to features is even more important than saying yes as it occurs much more frequently)
- Constantly asks the question, “Is this useful for 80% of the customers I want to have?”
Product management is critical for successful startups and is difficult to do. I recommend reading Getting Real by 37signals as well as other resources on product management.
What else? What other thoughts do you have about product managers in startups?