An Afternoon With Don Norman In Bengaluru

Are you building products for the everyday user? Is it becoming harder and harder to manage complexity while maintaining usability? How do you design a sustainable system for a complex multi-stakeholder environment? How do you teach a user to use your product with good design? How do you reinvent an established business model in light of rapidly evolving markets and technological possibilities? How do you design a product to be truly human-centric?

If any of these questions sound relevant to you, here’s an opportunity to seek answers on 22nd February in Bengaluru! 

About Don Norman

Dr Don Norman is a living legend of the design world having operated in the field for over 40 years. He has been Vice President of Apple in charge of the Advanced Technology Group and an executive at both Hewlett Packard and UNext (a distance education company). Business Week has listed him as one of the world’s 27 most influential designers. Dr Norman brings a unique mix of the social sciences and engineering to bear on everyday products. At the heart of his approach is human and activity-centred design, combining knowledge of cognitive science, engineering, and business with design.

Presently, he is Director of the recently established Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego where he is also professor emeritus of both psychology and cognitive science and a member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is also the co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, an executive consulting firm that helps companies produce human-centred products and services.

ProgrammeTalk

Don will share valuable insights about his interactions with Indian people, products and experiences.

Fireside Chat

An informal discussion with Don about his learnings and experiences spanning his long and illustrious career.

How to participate?

We’re inviting engineers, product managers, designers and everyone else who is building for large scale impact.

If you would like to further your understanding of human-centric design and hear straight from the horse’s mouth, please register here by 18th February. (An invite will be sent out to selected participants by 21st February)

Oogwave gained insights from CIOs at the 8th #PNMeetup

5 CIOs/Mentors, 2 startups showcasing their products, 12 good listeners and a rainy Noida morning at Adobe campus. We had a different setting this time, 15 minute of product demo and 60 minutes of quality one-on-one with the CIO community. We had two startups – Gaurav Jain, Founder & CEO of Oogwave & Vikram Bahl, Founder & CEO, Yavvy who got mentoring/guidance on their product strategy, Go-To-Market (GTM), scaling and sales among other things. Sharing some takeaways which Oogwave shared with us.

Oogwave is the content sharing platform for Enterprises, albeit the medium sized ones, and they wanted a ‘peek’ into a CIO’s perspective in order to better position themselves in the crowded market-space.

Some of the takeaways from the #PNMeetup were:

The biggest takeaway for us was that we do not need to necessarily focus on smaller/medium companies and if we are able to increase productivity, the CTOs of larger companies are more than likely to take notice, especially if we can reduce the total cost of ownership.

As we are in the business of becoming the platform of choice for enterprise collaboration, it’s priceless for us to gain insights into priorities in a CIO’s scheme of things. So while we do employ all the right technology for data security and already work on the principles of compartmentalization and least privileges, we hadn’t given much thought towards getting ourselves ISO certified. It really helps to know we can improve our prospects substantially by demonstrating that we have adequate process maturity and robust safeguards to ensure data security in line with industry standards as per ISO.

Sitting across country’s top CIO’s is quite an elucidating experience, but at the #PNMeetup we additionally got to interact with other passionate young entrepreneurs. This invigorating passion improves everyone’s morale especially when the going is tough, which is not that rare when you are an entrepreneur fighting to carve out a niche for yourself and your product. Talking to fellow product creators, understanding their challenges and accomplishments, builds up a camaraderie and is great for the startup ecosystem in the sense of building ties and establishing mutually beneficial relationships among entrepreneur community. Gaurav Jain, Founder, Oogwave

We hope to build this program on a monthly basis. If you are interested to be part of this program, do share us an email at pnmeetup(at)pn.ispirt.in

#PNMeetup – Showcase your Product & Get Advice from leading CIOs

We are pleased to partner with APAC CXO Forum to put together the 8th #PNMeetup in Noida.  If you have a brilliant Enterprise Product and you just know that its the best out there, here is an opportunity for you showcase your product and get one hour of quality one-on-one time with the CIO community. In this one hour, you not only get a chance to showcase your product to the CIOs but also get one-on-one mentoring/guidance on product strategy, Go-To-Market (GTM), scaling and sales among other things.

Interested?

Please click on the following link to apply. Alternatively, send us an email at pnmeetup(at)pn.ispirt.in 

Only 3 companies will be selected so that each startup gets quality time of one hour with the CIOs.

Process:

Your application will be vetted by the CIOs. Final selection of companies will be done by the CIOs themselves.

We are expecting some very senior and eminent CIOs in this session, supported by APAC CXO Forum. The session is scheduled for 20th July in Noida. Stay tuned for more details.

7th #PNMeetup – Get to millions of visitors without spending money

3 founders, 25 good listeners and a rainy Delhi afternoon. Topic: “Get to millions of visitors without spending money”. It was a perfect setting for sharing of experiences by those 3 doers ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected]) about their own experiences of getting users, when they started. Keeping in its tradition, Avinash and Nakul organized this month’s meet-up in the office of Akosha.

Ankur, started the afternoon with his thoughts on “Zero” cost marketing. He shared many simple things that start-ups can do or shouldn’t do. It is not easy in the beginning to get people to know about your product and/or brand. One would typically need to find innovative ways. He shared some of this tricks that Akosha followed and what worked and what not worked. One of the key takeaway was that one should never outsource SEO. The product is yours, outside people cannot help you out. You have to learn, try and make it perfect. One also need to know about google analytics, if one is launching a web product (or if I think about it, any web connected product. It could be a website or it could be an app). Audience also shared their experiences with SEO and many felt that if done correctly, it can do wonders.

Rajat also shared some neat ways where companies have taken help of SEO. If your product allows (or if you can find ways of doing so), you make others do your SEO work. e.g. you can do content partnerships where your content is shown by other leading websites.

  Many other consumer connect ways were discussed like Twitter, email marketing. Email marketing generated quite a bit of discussion given that different people had different experience. However this is also a fact that email is a very powerful tool. A trick, which I find worth mentioning is, always run your campaign in 2 steps. You always get email databases from market or from “someone”. Run a dummy campaign to exclude bad addresses (you can use a dummy domain as well for this). In Part 2, exclude bad addresses and use your actual domain to send your emails. 


For finding leads, in your early days, one need to think out of the box. e.g. if you are in classifieds business, visiting your competitor sites would give you quite a number of leads. It is also true that finding fist few customers if often way more difficult than getting your next 1000 users. When you start, many a times you believe that world is your playground. Problem is that you keep looking for that first mate to play with. As Pallav (Founder Knowlarity) shared an anecdote about how he got first customer, there were many oohs and aahas I could hear among audience. Getting you first customer also tests one’s persistence as was evident in the anecdote shared by Rajat. 

In startup, we always need people who can hit the ground from day 1. There is no, as they say it, settling in time. This was very well explained by Pallav. An interesting graph shared by Pallav


In a Start-up, you are typically looking for a Maverick sales person.

Overall, an afternoon, from which I could find many practical take-aways. There may not really be Zero cost way to reach million users, however there are many ways to do this in price effective way.

Guest Post Contributed by Ajay Bansal, Director, Product Management at U2opia Mobile

#DesignThinking: Desirable. Feasible. Viable

We all know quite well the value of Design to business, and Design Thinking to problem solving. But what remains a bit fuzzy for many start-ups, organizations & individuals is the gap between thinking and doing or making it happen.

In this time of volatility and complexity, the role of design to drive meaningful innovation and change is growing and while there are multitude of factors that need to be taken into consideration for a product design that is desirable, feasible & viable the design thinking process can help overcome these product characteristics. 

Yes, great design starts with design thinking! Reminds me of David Kelly from IDEO who puts this together as empathy or being empathetic. In other words focusing on what users value the most and building on top of the ideas they share with every incremental value we deliver to make designs better.

In an effort to bring all designers, engineers, product managers & entrepreneurs together via an informal coalition of like minded design thinkers community to help promote the how-to’s of design thinking, MakeMyTrip in co-ordination with #PNMeetup hosted a day long #DesignThinking event in its premises inviting them to discover the stories, solutions and tools that design thinkers are putting to work, from start ups to multinationals helping them find inspiration and learn how real world solutions are provided using innovation & technology to work to solve complex global challenges. 

This event was a first step in NCR UX community with series in pipeline with start of an exciting thought-leadership plank in the UX ecosystem in the country towards creating a platform to nurture design thinking & promoting design thinker’s community fostering an ecosystem that promotes delivering great experiential online products. Industry experts from LinkedIn, Mettl & Anagram Research supported the event with inspirational talks on subject and sharing how they practice the same in their respective job functions, startup’s & organizations thereby embracing the process in their day-to-day routine while driving the product vision at their setup. The experts also covered upon bootstrap strategies for startups who cannot afford the UX agencies or a big design team and face design challenges day in day out during their product design journey. Some even illustrated the design thinking approach to problem solving of product features design and helped them uncover the latent needs, behaviors, and desires for their users. 

Altogether,  #Design thinking event saw noteworthy achievement with 40+ design thinkers joining us from NCR and could leverage the platform listening some inspirational talks from speakers and meeting few like minded folks around. Had participant mix from passionate startup entrepreneurs to designers & dev engineers. Audience was glued to program embracing the talks & interactive workshop from functional experts in domain. 

Check out what happened at the First #DesignThinking Workshop on http://t.co/g0DDFbP7kS  

Guest Post by Dushyanth Arora, Head, User Experience & Design MakeMyTrip

Designing Great Products: A Startup CEO’s perspective

I had the opportunity to attend iSpirit Foundation’s #PNMeetup: Design great products through experiments – Product Leadership Workshop on 20th April 2013 at TLabs in Noida. 

Avi from iSPIRT put together a delightful, half-day session that brought together a smattering of product people from Delhi-NCR region.  In addition to product managers, CEOs, and senior executives from a wide range of Delhi startups, the icing on the cake was the presence of a hard-hitting product team from Intuit that had travelled all the way from Bangalore to share their experiences with the assembled audience. The Intuit Team included Deepa Bachu (Director, Emerging Market Innovation at Intuit), Samarjit GhoshLalitha RamaniVivek Vijayan & ThiyagaRajan ) 

The Intuit posse had experiences working on a variety of products from the uber-popular Turbo Tax to the socially relevant Fasal and an engaging discussion on their diverse experiences exposed the audience to a wide range of challenges that the Intuit teams faced and the teams’ approach to overcome these challenges.  Many an aspiring entrepreneur has been flummoxed with multiple questions vis-à-vis product development, not limited to prioritizing features, costs, and release cycles and the Intuit team cleared a lot of misconceptions around commonly accepted best-process with their highly structured product management approach.  Intuit’s product management model is largely based around the hypotheses driven approach that, in addition to software development, is the bedrock for business decision-making from optimizing scientific discoveries to underpinning most strategy consulting engagements.  We were walked through a detailed explanation of the Intuit way and were then led to put our newfound knowledge to task with an actual exercise on the streets.

The hour spent on the streets by 25 eager entrepreneurs, braving the Noida summer-heat led to the thread baring of multiple, seemingly unambiguous truths about how we thought about product research, design, and development.  The interesting aspect of the exercise was that that like many frameworks, the Intuit approach brought out its share of naysayers and skeptics among the assembled audience but the healthy discussion that followed enabled multiple perspectives to heard and discussed. 

 

As a startup-CEO at Studycopter, managing the product development process is an integral part of what I do, day in and day out.  Sharing of notes and perspectives with fellow CEOs and product managers was a unique opportunity for me to test my assumptions and build a new way of looking at problems and coming up with solutions. 

I can write with a reasonable degree of certainty that all participants would share my thoughts about the utility of the aforementioned session and moving forward, I look forward to the Studycopter team and I participating in multiple such meetups to build the intellectual rigor that would be critical in delivering breakthrough product experiences for our customers.

Guest Post by Adi Jain, Founder and Chief Awesomeness Officer at Studycopter, a mobile + online learning platform to enable students to get their best possible scores in competitive exams such as the GMAT and GRE.  

Promoting Design Thinking in the NCR

design thinking

In the last 2-3 years there have been well designed products coming out of the NCR startup ecosystem. Mettl, Visual Website Optimizer, Paytm, and Oogwave, especially come to mind where Design Thinking has been an integral part of the product development process, and not an after thought by giving it just a cosmetic veneer.

There is a noticeable increase in design sensibility while attending various Meetups and pitching design services to startups. However, there is still a gap in how to make it happen. In other words, how do startups and product managers cover the distance between thinking of design and making it actually happen.

With support from ProductNation, a few design professionals from Design For Use, MakeMyTrip, WoodApple, DSYN, Zomato and U2opia Mobile have formed an informal coalition to help promote the how-tos of design thinking,

Please join us for our launch session this Saturday (May 18th) at the MakeMyTrip office. There will be a talk by Mettl founder, Tonmoy Shinghal, followed up a 3-hour workshop on how to practice Design Thinking in your company by Devika Ganapathy of Anagram Research. Not to mention plenty of networking opportunities during coffee breaks and lunch. Please check out the details and register soon (only 30 participants).

Learnings from the 4th #PNMeetup – Making your product go viral on a low marketing budget

They say lighting does not strike twice, but it definetly did at Kunzum café where the 4th #PNMeetup  was happening. The theme “Making your product go viral on a low marketing budget” got over 40 people to the venue all intent to desipher the Virality dilemma. We had Amit Ranjan from SlideShare’s, Pathik Shah from HikeBipin Preet Singh from Mobikwik.

Amit from Slideshare started off first by asking What is Virality? The ability of an object to self replicate.

He took examples why sites like facebook are viral, the basics of virality being- the ease and ability to get referrals from existing users. Increasing the Viral co-efficient – for every additional user how many additional users do you get.  If it is greater than 1 than we get unbounded virality and if it is less than 1 then it grows to a certain level and then stops. The different Channels of Viral Distribution being Newsfeed, Widgets, Notifications, Email and Inviting a friend – any one will get you more additional business. These Viral channels are not the same as features, features essentially keep existing users happy, Viral channels are vectors that grow your business. He stressed that Design, Convenience, Speed of the app or website matter, to create a good user experience which has a impact on the virality of the product.


Pathik from Hike then takes over and talks about how Hike touched 2 Million downloads in two weeks of launch, he goes on to outline some basics for a startup product to go viral. In his view the product needs to truly be a great product addressing a real need thus building a strong core value for the product. Once we have a good product the Desigining and the U&I needs to be of very good quality thereby getting eyeballs to the product. The next stage will be to have a large Distribution channel focusing on Growth and Retention of all new Customers. Smart Marketing will play an important role in being able to get the message across to the user base in a fast and simple manner. This may include offering free talk time, additional storage space on referring etc, anything to spread the message especially through one customer to another. An Innovative business model will ensure that the longevity of the product is maintained.

Pathik then goes about to explain the concept of Growth Hacking –  a new process for acquiring and engaging users combining traditional marketing and analytical skills with product development skills. In the past, marketing and product development departments were often at odds where marketing groups would be spending significant amounts of money to acquire users but couldn’t get any development resources to build something as simple as new custom landing pages. And on the other side, product development teams would often build what they think users want and will attract users without deeply measuring and understanding the impact of their changes. This concept of “growth hacking” is a recognition that when you focus on understanding your users and how they discover and adopt your products, you can build features that help you acquire and retain more users, rather than just spending marketing dollars.

Growth Hacking is one very fast way to get Virality of Sales vis-a-vie the traditional Marketing Channels.

By being able understand the needs of the customers you reach the A-HA point with the customers which is essiantialy the main reason of the product going Viral.

Bipin from Mobikwik then takes over and talks about Virality. He emphasis on the 3 basic things, First Product Innovation is the key for any product. The Product needs to be disruptive to create new positive impacts for the users for them to get hooked to it. Secondly, Cheap Acquistion for a startup is essential. The Aim needs to be able to target a large audience for the product at a low cost. Thirdly, their needs to be high rates of Retention on the client base which has been acquired enabling you to ensure the client base continues to grow.

We then moved onto the session where we featured a new company, this time it was Zest.md. The company offers saas based platform, providing eclinics for medical practioners. The participants shared their product and got feedback from the audience in relation to scaling their businesses.

After a very interactive 3 hr session the time was just right for everybody to interact with the speakers and network with the audience. It was a session which helped people share some interesting conversations and am sure all the people who came gained a good insight .


We eagerly now await the next #PNMeetup in April.

Building Killer Products in a young startup….

It was a cold Saturday afternoon with the rain gods already drenching the earth beneath them. The location reminded me of college with its red brick interiors, jute chairs and a room which slowly but surely filled up to over 45 people. We had Harinder CEO of Paytm, Angad from Zomato & Pranav from Makemytrip.com already in the room getting ready to share their thoughts 

Harinder CEO of Paytm went first and touched upon some very basics needs to build a Killer product – A product which would make a difference to life. He showed some photographs of products which he liked and disliked – seeming to suggest that being clear about the problem which exists, and for whom its exists, the solution would not be judgeable by you or anybody if that is not clear – Good products always keep it simple. 

Simplicity means :

  1. Sensitive to products – to understand the problems around you and that the product is the solution to that problem.
  2. To be free of Baggage – Inverting the Pyramid by starting off with the problem and finding a solution for that.  A simple facility like a wallet feature on Paytm helped the company to provide their customers with a solution to a problem.
  3. Be Practical – Pixel perfection is good, but need to be realistic to the needs of the business. It may mean to launch a product by striking a balance between hygiene(the minim basics)and differentiated features of a product. 

Harinder thus set the tone and passed the baton to Pranav from Makemytrip.. 

Who spoke about the new product RoutePlanner. It became a reality by defining a special problem that of just trying to understand how to get from City A to City B 

He outlines the 10 Mantras on Building Killer Products :

  1. Why would somebody use this product? – The Mission statement
  2. The Use cases that would make a difference – Clearly define the targeted market segment. State what the product does and does not do.
  3. Solving the Problem – Solutions to problems for customers
  4. Tackle the Hard problems first
  5. Get Feedback on your product before you have built it.
  6. Simplicity of Product Matters
  7. Launch Fast.
  8. Listen to Everyone, but do your own thing
  9. Do not Underestimate marketing .
  10. You become what you measure – Daily measure the various outcomes.

The stage is then set for Angad from Zomato who believes Building a Killer Product Needs more love 

He says that the branding, look and feel are very important for any product. Many start-ups have product managers, but these product managers need to manage products and not the people. The Product Manager needs to understand the product, the technologies which you are working with, have you every built such a product, do you understand your people, your customers and do you understand the competitors customers. 

A product manager should live, breathe, eat, sleep the product. He should empathize with the users, understand their needs and keep a lot of free time enabling him to explore, experiment and evolve new products. 

A Company should ask : WHY are we building it and WHO are we building it for before WHAT are we building it for. 

Work backwards from the problem to the solution and strike a balance. Rethink and Re evolution of products is necessary. Dream a little before being practical; to reach the solutions by breaking all the rules while doing good research, research without passion is pointless, that is the commitment to make something great. Take your time building a product but don’t overbake or underbake the pie. Its very important to seek feedback but from people who give solutions to problems and not just simple problems. Customers are not as dumb as you think respect them and give them value for the product. Usability of the product is important followed by the Utility and then the desirability of the product.’ 
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Design is a very important aspect of all Killer products, it comes from a good strong design culture with a sharp focus backed by clarity of thought working with autonomy with the best people pushing the limits with their passion and conviction to achieve the Vision. A fact which is very often overlooked. 

We then moved onto the session where we featured a new company, this time it was ReviseWise.in a technology start-up. The company is India’s 1st Mobile Platform making learning and revising “Simpler Faster, Anytime Anywhere”. The company hopes to increase engagement between educators and students via mobile networking and applications, to accomplish a positive effect on learning, assessing, improving and achieving. The participants shared there product and got feedback from the audience in relation to scaling their businesses. 
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After a very interactive 3 hr session the time was just right for everybody to go to the foyer and interact with the speakers as well as the participants and reflect on what was discussed. Everybody over the Gol Gappas were very excited to be present and shared some interesting conversations which kept people at it for a long time. Am sure all the people who came gained a good insight and the credit for that goes to Avinash who has set the ball rolling now with very successful #PNMeetups. 

We eagerly now await with child like eagerness for the next #PNMeetup in March. 

See you all again……