It’s Independence Day today, and the last year has been one of the most exciting years in India’s product ecosystem. Just last week, the news that Sundar Pichai has taken over as the CEO of Google has been another shot in the arm for Indian techies. If ever it was the time for Indian product companies to raise the battle cry to take on the world, it is now.
In conversations with other people in the ecosystem over the last month, there has been a realisation about the need to create what we call category leaders in the product space.
In India right now, we do not have #1 in any large category. Freshdesk (#2 in category), VWO (#2 in category), FusionCharts (#2 in category), are all virtual market leaders but these are our own unicorns.
And this in turn begs the question – do we take a route of supporting only large leaders, or multiple contenders, at which we already have the above companies killing it?
In this discussion, overwhelming support was for more number of companies; we simply need more entrepreneurs, and MORE IMPORTANTLY more product people.
These new companies we want to see don’t need to become category leaders, but category winners. And this would mean a whole new approach to building a company.
We have reimagine our team/culture, process and product to have a shot at being a category winner.
For team/culture, we need a hiring model that is tied to results from the beginning. Hiring great, not just good, talent in the early days requires hunting people down across the world, and creating a culture that scales.
For process, it starts with eschewing chewing-gum culture and thinking about solving all problems with technology in the way that allows Uber to operate with higher customer satisfaction despite having a fraction of the employees that other companies have.
Metaphorically, it is about having German Product Management, American Marketing and Russian Programmers.
For product, it comes to recreating the category, and sometimes creating a new one. And it’s also definitely about scientific and yet disruptive pricing.
Why all this on a national holiday, you might think? When else, then? Today, when we are watching the Independence Day parade in New Delhi, some of us weight think as to what significance our careers have over, say perhaps an Army jaw an who guards our borders? Isn’t his the more important job for the nation?
It certainly is, but we mustn’t forget that in our own way, our work is also aimed at making a stronger country. When we start building world class products the world uses, we are raising the bar for achievement as well. Our may not be to do and die, but maybe our role, in this quest to build India as a Product Nation, is simply to inspire the next generation.