Don’t try to solve every customer problem by a line of code.

My First playbook roundtable. iSPIRT’s first initiative at Hyderabad, was a 4 hour insightful RoundTable that was  organised by the ProductNation free of cost for the attendees, which most Hyderabadi entrepreneurs gave a miss and are sure to be regretting the missed opportunity and the learning possibility that it offered.

Sridhar Ranganathan, ex-VP of InMobi, a Product Guru and Aneesh Reddy, the CEO of Capillary Technologies, which is in the business of providing mobile-based customer acquisition, tracking, and loyalty business, were the key speakers for the day .The first half of the session was mostly participants- driven where each of us were asked to share our day-to-day stories at work along with our expectations from the workshop.

Below were the most common challenges that emerged from our discussions:

  1. How to validate the need for a product?
  2. How to prioritize from the features wish list?
  3. What is the exact role of a Product Manager to drive successful product deliveries?

Validating the product need

Sridhar began the afternoon session by saying that, “The best way to validate the need for a product was constantly interacting with the customers and understanding their requirements.” He said there are 2 primary things for a product startup to be successful in the long run. One is Speed- wherein it is important for start-ups to be iterating faster as its always better to Fail Fast and recover quickly.

The second is to be data-driven wherein start-ups should be religiously looking and researching in terms of numbers both externally and internally .He recalled a popular quote, “Data is God and code is only a messenger”, which was truly an eye-opener as it made me realize the importance of constantly looking at data and then using that to validate the need of the product.

Aneesh shared a few of his real-life examples on how during their initial days at Capillary Technologies, they had spent over 6 months talking to every store owner be it big or small, to understand their needs and how they literally changed their product idea thrice before conceiving the final version. He also said that listening to customers played a prominent role in shaping the product rather than merely selling. He also spoke of how Capillary mainly stuck to one mantra i.e.- “Locking down on the cheque with the customer even before building a feature for them,” which not only drives a sense of stickiness and commitment with the customer but  also ensures the right customer need is addressed.

Priortizing from the Features Wish list

This is by far the most common challenge faced by all of us today, which Sridhar strongly advocated by highlighting the need for PMs to start questioning  every feature-benefit ratio in order to prevent any feature overload. He also stressed on the need for every PM to evaluate if every feature was designed for the ease of the end user. He added that it is important to add features in a disciplined manner and remove the excessive features ruthlessly. Bottom-line being – “Don’t try to solve every customer problem by a line of code.”

Aneesh also shared on how Capillary builds prototypes and demonstrates them to customers to ensure if the customer’s wish list has been fulfilled or not and that this has helped Capillary to keep the fine balance between what their customers are looking for and how the future of the product would shape up.

Role of a Product Manager (PM)

Sridhar began asking each of us to define what we considered the role of a PM to be and after everyone was done presenting their respective  viewpoints, he mentioned the below as some of the qualities he would expect a PM to possess:

  1. Empathy towards customers – the willingness to engage, understand and appreciate customer needs.
  2. Confidence to have a point of view
  3. Ready to build a product for the future
  4. Culture of experimentation and being data-driven

Personally what I considered the best piece of advice for PMs is, “to be responsible for the Outcome and not the Output”. This actually accelerates the need for PMs to question every effort for a feature request and evaluate what would be its ability to generate revenue.

Overall, it was an immensely insightful session. I would also like to thank Sridhar for taking time out from his busy schedule to enlighten us. Huge thanks to Aneesh for being extremely patient and for responding to all our queries.

I highly appreciate the efforts of Avinash to create such a splendid product management session wherein we not only get a chance to meet/network with product gurus but also help us rethink our working strategies. Last but not the least, I would also like to thank Pramati Technologies for being an excellent host for this Roundtable.

Eagerly looking forward to the follow-up session soon!

Post Contributed by Thulasi, Associate Product Manager at Versant Online Solutions Pvt Ltd and can be reached at thulasi(at)