Some Takeaways from the #PlaybookRT on Effective Product Mgmt: Applications and Benefits for Technology Startups and SMB

The fifteenth #PlaybookRT with focus on Product Management was held at PubMatic office in Pune. It was led by Shrirang Bapat (VP Engg at PubMatic). Shrirang set the stage for RT by sharing the importance of ‘What NOT to do’ which comes from years of experience. To accentuate his point, he shared a story of introducing handhelds in the market beginning of 1997. Through this story he explained the importance and process of getting into customer’s shoes when defining the problem and designing the solution. The message was clear don’t be Tech arrogant! Be empathetic towards your customers. Understand their pain points and solve them by creating simple yet elegant solutions…

After the setting the tone for the RT, Shrirang formed pair of twos in which each person in the pair would introduce the other person by sharing the following information:

  1. Name
  2. What you do?
  3. What does your company do?
  4. What do you expect to get out of the RT?
  5. The person who had influenced the most?

This turned out be a great ice breaker session. Participants really got to know each other and understand each other’s perspectives. Answer to ‘The person who had influenced the most’ where interesting. Here’s what some participants answered:

  1. Founder of Toyota –  Kiichiro Toyoda
  2. Father
  3. Steve Jobs (3 nominations)
  4. Jack Welch
  5. APJ Abdul Kalam
  6. Mahatma Gandhi
  7. Wife
  8. Leonardo Da Vinci
  9. Rahul Dravid
  10. Cousin
  11. Kiran Karnik

The RT participants wanted to have a conversion of variety but related topics such as:

  1. Product Strategy for Go To Market (GTM) , especially globally
  2. Increasing product adoption
  3. Scaling UX and Selling in Indian markets
  4. Process for validating ideas
  5. Feature prioritization process
  6. Product globalization
  7. Implementation of Product Management practices
  8. Product Management in Start ups
  9. Product Management best practices
  10. Scaling operations and Product Management

After some deliberation the participants were divided into two groups:

  1. GTM (Mentored by Aditya Bhelande, led by Sandeep Todi and Nitin Seth)
  2. Product Management processes (Shrirang and led by Gaurav)

Each group got approximately 1 hour to discuss on the following lines:

  1. Define problems
  2. Measure problems
  3. Analyze key issues
  4. Provide specific examples
  5. Recommendations / Solutions

After about an hour leaders from each group shared their discovery with all the participants. Here’s the summary:


  1. Issues:
    1. Scaling globally
    2. Customer segmentation and market validation
    3. Spreading product awareness
    4. Customer discovery
    5. Creating trust with global Customer
    6. Solutions

Market Discovery

  • Better analysis of user  / customer traffic and leads
  • Competition presence
  • Availability of infrastructure for product usage
  • Language and cultural differences

Customer Discovery

  • i.     Web PR
  • ii.     Blogs
  • iii.     Local community

Building Credibility

  • i.     Local presence
  • ii.     Local employees / consultants (for example using commission junction ( or
  • iii.     Travelling and attending conferences
  • iv.     Customer case studies and having customers talk about the company

Product Management Process:

  1. Problems:
    1. Prioritizing features
    2. Poor UX
    3. Lack of cross functional collaboration
    4. Lack of Product orientation
    5. Managing roadmap
    6. Solutions:
      • When changing feature priority think about why. For example are you changing the feature priority to get a new customer or to retain the existing customer?
      • Create a balance between time and resources. Consider the impact of cost of change in direction. If a feature if 3/4th done, then are you better of completing the feature before changing the direction. Are you willing to give up that work that has already been done?, etc
      • When adding new feature think about technical challenges such as scalability and Customer facing issues such as performance impact.
      • Analyze if the feature is merely ‘gold plating’ or helping get new business.
      • Ask ‘Why’ to get a deeper understating of the customer / sales need to set the priority. Try to understand the impact of not building the feature.

These were some of the key take aways for the RT group that came from a very lively and engaging discussion. The group decided to meeting once a month to talk about various topics other than Product Management such as Sales and Marketing.