PNCamp#3 — Product Teardown UrbanPiper

Before writing something down about our experience at the recently held Product Nation Camp (PNCamp) product teardown session, I think it would be better to give a short perspective on the overall event from the viewpoint of a fairly reclusive startup in the B2B Saas space.

UrbanPiper has been around for some time; however, for a pretty long period, we haven’t taken part in any SaaS focused events. Well we did, but all of them were in Bangalore. The ones that we attended too, were mostly about networking with hundreds of people milling about and ready to deliver an elevator pitch if you so much as said “hello” to them. Nothing inherently wrong about such a gathering, but if networking isn’t your one-all-be-all purpose, these events stop making sense once you’ve attended one or two of them.
The PNCamp was suggested to us by one of our advisors. Not sure what to expect, the only reason we agreed to go was because we hadn’t attended any event for a decent length of time.

The event turned out to be a delightful experience — spread across a full day (Saturday), it was a small (80-100 people) gathering of focused individuals from a curated list of startups, with an evolved sense of SaaS business and products reflecting a matured outlook towards problem-solving. There was a team (including the founder) from the matured startup – Zenoti, which anchored most of the sessions and did all that they could to share their learning with the rest of us fledgling startups. The day’s events were well regulated to avoid any feeling of drag creeping in, and at all times, it felt like everyone was invested with a great deal of interest and purpose to contribute to each other’s box of learning.

The product teardown was the first session scheduled after a short inaugural talk by the PN team and the guest of honour – Mr. Jay Pullur (Founder of Pramati Technologies).

As it usually is with all things unprepared for, UrbanPiper was invited as the first startup to step up for the teardown. Not having any previous experience of a product teardown, I had no idea what good or bad was in store, and that in a strange way helped me calm down and focus upon telling the audience a good narrative about the UrbanPiper story.

THE TEARDOWN PROCESS

The teardown allows the speaker, a representative of the startup core team, to speak about their startup for 5-10 minutes. As part of the initial presentation, some basic questions are asked by any member of the audience. These questions are usually of the nature to understand a bit better about the proposition of the startup.

Once the presentation is through and the first wave of questions answered, the team from Zenoti takes over. They systematically explored aspects of the technology platform – the finished product, product interfaces, on-boarding process – but it all starts with the “deconstruction” of the website.

For us, the UrbanPiper website (https://urbanpiper.com) had been an effort to put up a decent web presence. Where “decent” merely meant that it was better as a façade than what our competitors had, and it somewhat managed to convey the platform’s proposition.

The following is what we felt manages to tick most of the checkboxes when it came to a Saas-based startup’s website:

UrbanPiper

The next 15 minutes was a logical and well-executed act of unravelling the pointlessness of doing things half-baked and half-thought. While the focus was directed towards our website, but it didn’t take much effort to see signs of the same problems when it comes to setting a product vision, selling, pricing, negotiating, fund raising, marketing, etc.

The primary theme of the teardown can be summarized as:

  1. What have you built and how do you intend to sell it
  2. Does your website echo the thought-process expressed in #1
  3. The website teardown focuses on:
    1. The messaging around the primary proposition of your product/platform
    2. The explanation of how your target audience can use your platform
    3. The long-tail value of using your product/platform
    4. How has your platform made a difference for the merchants/clients who have been using it for quite some time

TAKEAWAYS

As ominous as a “teardown” sounds, the first thing to know is that it’s a very friendly event. Instead of feeling defensive about getting “exposed”, it is best to view the teardown as a get together of well-informed friends who point out the gaps in your plan to save you the blushes in the future. Think of the last time when a friend of yours pointed out that your fly is open – that probably best sums up the purpose of the teardown.

Another important aspect is the quality of feedback–you have some of the best minds, who have most certainly been-there-done-that, offering you their undivided attention so as to offer you advice which is best suited for you.

For us, the key takeaways boiled down to:

  • Narrow down the area UrbanPiper wants to focus on. Instead of positioning the platform for every merchant, it would make it much easier to scale if we simply focused on being the best in one domain, and then decide to pursue another one.
  • Overhaul the website to focus on simple messaging instead of using buzzwords, which would most likely make no sense to even the people you’d like to sell to.
  • Break down the journey a merchant would have from not using our platform to the benefits of signing up and thereafter.
  • Last, but certainly not the least, build out the product and the website with a focus on selling globally. This involves a change in setting out a more global plan, but the start needs to be with the website–which should reflect in no uncertain terms the intent to cater to a global audience.

CURRENT SITUATION

It’s been a week since the PNCamp, but we have already finished work on the first iteration of making some much needed changes to our website. This iteration is by no means a finished product, but it certainly embraces some of the direction that we should be taking with our platform’s positioning.

It gives me a lot of pleasure to unveil the new look of our website–

While this is just our first iteration, there are some key elements that we wanted to address:

  • Focus the messaging around the domain that works for us.
  • Take the visitor through various parts of the platform in a gradual and relevant manner – the features should unravel themselves as an easy to understand narrative.
  • Use styling which gives the site a crisp look and feel, such as to measure up to the expectations of a global platform.
  • Add a blog (https://urbanpiper.com/blog) section to write about the platform and make a visitor find out more. Not to mention, reap the benefits of better SEO.
  • Prominently showcase a video which ideally has a current merchant talking about the platform.

Urbanpiper2

THE WAY FORWARD

We have just begun an interesting journey of making UrbanPiper relevant for the next phase of growth. During the PNCamp, Sudheer (founder of Zenoti) had suggested that I read a book – Crossing the chasm (Geoffrey Moore). I’ve just read the first chapter of the book, and already it feels like there’s going to be lots to learn from it.

Whatever be in store, it will surely help us rediscover ourselves at an important juncture of growth for UrbanPiper.

If I were to pause for a moment and reflect upon the events and the actions we’ve taken, it’s not like there was a grand revelation or something. Working in startups, we all carry a bunch of latent thoughts. However, in the everyday hectic operations of running a startup, we often lose “perspective”. If we’re lucky, then we have some good friends from other startups with whom we hang out regularly, and exchange notes, which in-turn helps us gain some of the lost “perspective”. But then, having friends from startups which have tread a path similar to yours, call for rather long odds.

Events are usually good to meet an eclectic group of individuals from the startup world, but then, most of them are primarily about networking, and soon lose value for all the effort that needs to be put in for attending them. And then, we just become lazy, letting our latent thoughts remain buried, while we continue to endure every aspect of a tunnel-vision syndrome.

For what it’s worth, the Product Nation Camp, was certainly a refreshing take on the idea of a startup conference – or rather, unconference. You’ve got a room full of smart people, doing smart things, and wanting to help you see things differently – to help you gain some of your lost perspective.

Guest Post by Anirban Majumdar @ urbanpiper.com

The Making of #PNcamp3 #Hyderabad

Just came back, feeling happy, from Hyderabad after doing the #PNcamp3. The drive from the airport in the evening to Gachibowli was pleasant and I got to see lot of construction in the city. I felt like I was driving in the Silicon Valley highway with wide roads and people driving in their lanes. In the evening, when I drove back from the ISB Campus, it took me just 25 minutes to reach to the airport.

Sunset near the HYD airport

Some background about what we have done so far in the Hyderabad Ecosystem

We have managed to do around 5 playbooks so far, 3 of them have been around Products, 1 of them was by Suresh Sambandam on Nuts & Bolts selling to the US, one of them was on Selling by Aneesh Reddy of Capillary. Few months back, we did put together a playbook around Product Showcase, inspite of having 8–10 confirmations, no one showed up except for Niraj from Hiver who was facilitating the playbook.

I was little upset as I felt founders in Hyderabad did not value the playbooks. I stayed quite for few months and then recently wrote a blog post on my contribution to Chennai and how it is now positioned as a SaaS/B2B hub of India. Chaitanya of Ozonetel tweeted saying he will write a blog post on how Hyderabad is emerging as a B2B hub. I felt guilty of not making an active contribution to the city. So after SaaSx, I thought of putting together PNcamp3, it’s a light format and adds value to the Pre-Product Market Fit stage companies.

The Hyderabad Tech Eco-system

Just to give you a little brief about the Hyderabad tech eco-system, they have an awesome Incubator/co-working space called T-Hub which is truly a global facility. Some of the leading companies from Hyderabad in the B2B space are: Pramati Technologies, Zenoti, Ozonetel, AgileCrm and in B2C we have MeraEvents and NowFloats is in the SMB space. Also you have some emerging players such as ReportGarden, AppVirality, Robustest and few others. This is just a partial list to give an understanding of the tech ecosystem. There are many more which I might have missed.

The team which pulled PNcamp together

Few months back, Shekhar Kirani of Accel had connected me with Sudheer Koneru of Zenoti as Sudheer was keen to get connected to the ecosystem and contribute some of his learnings. Initially, I wasn’t even aware about them, but the more I spoke with Sudheer I found him to be someone who was keen to help the Indian eco-system, keen to do something for Hyderabad. He flew in from Hyderabad as I requested him to attend one playbook before he does any for us….that was a big commitment and he made it happen. I’m quite fortunate to have leveraged Sudheer for 2 playbooks(1 in BLR & 1 in HYD), he was a mentor at PNgrowth and shared his learnings at SaaSx4. Sudheer was the first person who agreed to host #PNcamp in Hyderabad. I then reached out to Chaitanya as he has always been there to support in any initiative that I have reached out to him for. I had been working with Laxman from AppVirality on Beyond Founders…it hasn’t taken off, but I know he was committed and very keen to contribute.

I just shared the format of PNcamp2 that we did in Pune and I said, let’s target around the 75 B2B founders in HYD and do something for startups which are in the early stages. According to Chaitanya, it was a high number, so we settled for around 35–40 as we did not have enough B2B companies in HYD. We did the first blog post announcing PNcamp and noticed that we just got 1 application in 1 week. I realised that we have to probably do little more outreach to get the 35–40 number. Then Sainath Gupta heard about the PNCamp in Hyderabad, he shared it on Facebook and I did speak to him to help us out. Without knowing what we were getting into, he agreed and I set a target for around 75 B2B startups, probably around 40 from HYD and the remaining from other parts of India. I also told him that to get to 75, we have to probably get around 130 applications as we follow a tight curation process. I did update Laxman that we were not doing too well on registrations and he did reach out to Praveen Dorna who was very active in the ecosystem. I got both Sainath & Praveen on a call and requested for help. Both of them took on the target of getting around 75 people for PNcamp. Luckily, we managed to get around 90 applications out of which around 63 were short-listed and eventually 55 showed up for the event.

The day at PNcamp3

We started at 11am sharp with a warm welcome by Sudheer. This was followed by an inspiring talk by Jay Pullur. It’s safe to call him the father of the product ecosystem for Hyderabad. He started Pramati in 1998 and was one of the leading product companies in the Middleware space. Jay shared some insights on what it takes to build a global product company from India. There were lot of questions which came and he gave his insights to the startups and I could see that maturity and the depth of product knowledge that he had gained over the last 19 years.

Audience at #PNcamp3

We quickly moved on to the Product Tear down sessions. I was very nervous till the last minute on how the session would be conducted….but Sudheer and his team which included Mrityunjay, Anand & Bharath did a fabulous job of shortlisting 5 companies.

They actually tested out the functionality, ordered stuff, called up the startups like a customer and availed their service. They did a thorough analysis of their website, their market, their messaging, etc. One of the key things mentioned by the team was copy…copy…copy as the basics were not in place from few companies. This was something which Shekhar had also mentioned when he did the tear down in SaaSx.

Startup going through the Tear down process

The startups who presented got some good value and appreciated the efforts put by Sudheer’s team. Product Tear down is a good format which was started at SaaSx and now we are hopeful that we will be able to take this virtual.

Apart from this, we tried a Pitch tear down session, without the VCs, the session went well and i’m glad that most of the founders were trying to help each other in the session. Kevin William David of Siftery shared some thoughts on how you should be launching your product in ProductHunt. The session was around Product Launch…but a few companies shared their learning on how they launched the product…but it was ok…as the idea was to get them talking.

We were around 5:30pm when Sudheer started his own learnings on Building a Enterprise company for Global markets. He shared his learnings and how they have been obsessed in understanding their customer business. Sudheer and his colleagues actually bought software from the competition to understand how it works and many times went to customer to learn from them….never to sell. That was a very powerful insight. Most of the folks are always in the sell mode when they meet customers…but it was so good to see someone going to meet potential customer to understand how their business works.

Sudheer Koneru from Zenoti

They exactly understood their customers’ business, only then pitched on how their product can add value to their business. Sudheer’s session was very interactive and almost every attendee in the room had a question which he answered patiently. The end time for PNcamp3 was around 6pm and as with all interesting events, it kept stretching. knew that folks were flying back in the same evening, so around 6:45pm I had to bring it to a logical conclusion. We have collected feedback and the NPS score for the event is ~78 which makes my colleague Rajan happy 🙂

Tweet from one of the attendees.

Sudheer hosted some of the folks at his house after the session and it was great to catch up with some folks informally in the evening. I had to rush around 7:45pm as I had a flight at 9pm….and somehow I made it 🙂

I feel happy after making a small contribution to the HYD eco-system and I hope to work with the team again to put together the next #PNcamp in the city. Also, thanks to ISB for allowing us to host PNcamp in their wonderful facility. Was blown away by the infrastructure that the city has.

Blown away by the commitment of folks like Sudheer Koneru, Chaitanya Reddy, Laxman, Sainath Gupta, Praveen & Ronak Samantray for putting a great show. We just pulled this off in less than 25 days, with just a few calls…and a few whatsapp messages.

#PNcamp3 – Hyderabad

The idea of this #PNCamp is to get a bunch of successful startup founders and early stage startups together so that early stage startups can learn from the successful ones. But this aint your regular gyaan session where a founder gets on stage and shares his/her “journey”. The format of this camp is to have a complete hands on approach in helping startups find answers to their questions. The PNCamp is structured for real action oriented learning. And the more you share the more you learn. You are getting only 10 visitors a week? What actual things you can do will be suggested. You are converting less than 1% of visits to leads? Actual changes to your lead form or web site will be suggested. These are actionable insights which you can apply immediately.

find out more details at pncamp.in

Announcing #PNCamp3 (22nd April- Hyderabad) – Feedback,Teardowns and more.

Building a startup is hard. And many times it’s lonely. The actual building of the product is the honeymoon period. Especially for tech startups. There is the high of creating something from scratch and seeing it take shape. But just like in a real marriage, then start the struggles 🙂

You have a product. You have some early adopters,maybe some friends and family. But how do you scale? How can you build a predictable revenue machine? Is your product right for the market? Should you track some metrics? What metrics should you track? How do you make people come to your website? How do you make them stay? How can you wow your customers in the first 5 minutes of them using your product?

Every early stage startup will have these and many more questions. And thats a good thing. This means that there are successful startups who have had these questions and have found answers. And thats where this #PNCamp gets in.

The idea of this #PNCamp is to get a bunch of successful startup founders and early stage startups together so that early stage startups can learn from the successful ones. But this aint your regular gyaan session where a founder gets on stage and shares his/her “journey”. No sir no. The format of this camp is to have a complete hands on approach in helping startups find answers to their questions. The PNCamp is structured for real action oriented learning. And the more you share the more you learn. You are getting only 10 visitors a week? What actual things you can do will be suggested. You are converting less than 1% of visits to leads? Actual changes to your lead form or web site will be suggested. These are actionable insights which you can apply immediately.

And you can question. In fact you should question the insights,after all, you own the product. And this will hopefully lead to a healthy debate.

Here are a list of things which we will do at the camp:

  1. Founder truth or dare: A successful founder will be put on stage and you can ask them anything. They will share their insights by putting it all out in the open. And in case they refuse to share, well, we will give a dare to them 🙂
  2. Teardowns: Startups can nominate themselves for a teardown from experts. The experts will analyze your product/website/sales process/marketing and give you blunt feedback on each of the processes. Don’t expect any sugar coating from the experts. They will tell it as they see it. It’s almost as if your startup is getting free consulting and mentorship from some of the best minds in the world :). This is the most important feature of the camp and this is where most of the learning happens. Our previous teardowns have been very successful and every startup which has gone through the process has improved.
  3. Pitch breakup: Here again, startups can nominate and share their pitch deck. Experts will analyze the pitch-deck and give suggestions on optimizing the pitch.

Startups may have a worry about opening up about their startup. Its a valid worry, but let me assure you, it’s an unfounded one. What goes on in the #PNCamp stays at the camp. Its just a community of startup peers sharing.

So are you ready? Just go and apply for the bootcamp  in Hyderabad on 22nd April 2017.

Learnings from #PNCamp

For those who aren’t aware, PNCamp is a bootcamp event for early stage SaaS startups. We were lucky enough to get invited to the event in Pune on Oct 8. The event, like earlier SaaSx event in Chennai, is a no-nonsense event for founders and product folks. The day-long event had two tracks: one for B2B startups and one for B2C startups. We, at Fyle, were part of the B2B track.

learnings-from-pncampThe B2B track consisted of a mix of talks by accomplished folks — Suresh of Kissflow, Krish of ChargeBee and Ankit of AdPushup covering fun anecdotes, practical suggestions and cautionary tales. Here are a couple of interesting ones (more on my twitter).

Apart from these talks, there were “Product Teardown” sessions where a startup gets 10 mins to demo and talk about their product and the next 15 mins is spent in critical evaluation. The framework for the session is aptly summarized by this diagram:

Fyle got to participate in the Product Teardown session and the most important learnings for us were:

  • Pricing page and testimonials are really important to increase confidence in your product
  • Remove unnecessary friction during sign up flow. E.g. we had an email verification step which, in hindsight, is an overkill
  • Pick your audience and get them to a wow really quickly. E.g. you may restrict your app to G-Suite customers and optimize their experience by deep integrations
  • Put some effort into content marketing, it will pay in the long run
  • Saying NO — the lack of focus for a company reflects in its website and affects the product, team and business

Overall, the event was refreshing in the level of candor — founders were openly discussing problems with focus, hiring and customer acquisition and tips and suggestions were extremely practical in nature. It was part-educational and part-therapeutic for me and I highly recommend it for early stage startups.

Special thanks to all the volunteers and facilitators for organizing a fantastic event! One parting thought from Ankit on how to get fresh insights into your product which we’re going to institutionalize 🙂

Guest Post by Sivaramakrishnan Narayanan, Fyle.in. The original post can be accessed on Medium

#PNcamp – Building the Right Product & Selling It

This is a boot camp for product people, by product people. It is a day-long coming together of doers: ones who have been there, done that; and ones in the journey of getting there. Orchestrated by hand-picked facilitators, it promises focused, interactive, deep conversations within small, curated groups.

PNcamp is a surefire avenue to find inspiration, insights and tips, and connections for life to tangibly get ahead in your product journey.

More details at www.pncamp.in

#PNCamp2: Shortlisted B2C Products for the Product Teardown Sessions

The volunteer team here at PNCamp are excited to share their list of candidates for the live Product Teardown Session. These companies have been selected to have their products analysed by our expert panel of in minute detail over a 2 hour long session. We expect that the feedback that they’ll get to take back from the session will be relevant and valuable in improving their product’s readiness.

  • Priyanka, Wishberry.in – help independent artists raise money for their projects from their fan communities
  • Sriram, Blue Sky Agriculture – Reimagining the supply chain for fruits and vegetables.
  • Vinay, FinitePaths – Get answers for your questions from people you can trust.
  • Dushyant, PodPitara – Discover curated podcasts.
  • Rohan, Garagehub – One stop for all your vehicle related problems.
  • Ajmal, Spenwise.com – Wise spending for a smart generation.
  • Murukesh, Codeflow.co – a programming platform that lets you build scalable cloud applications by simply composing reusable components.
  • Ashish Sharma, Phynart – building the future in the field of Home Automation.
  • Rohit, Koove.com – Discover exclusive products.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy for the curation team to go over the details of each company and pick out the right ones. If you haven’t been selected, or would still like to apply for a slot – do get in touch with us through pncamp.in.

On session day, the panel for the B2C track are:

  • Sampad from Instamojo
  • Amit from Walnut App
  • Sarang from Intouch App
  • Naman from FindYogi
  • Harshit from KPMG(UX)

The panel for the B2C track are:

  • Sampad Swain – Instamojo
  • Amit Bhor – Walnut App
  • Naman Saraogi – FindYogi
  • Sarang Lakhare – InTouch App
  • Harshit Desai – KPMG

To learn more about the format for the Product Teardown Session here.

Look forward to having you!

Guest Post by Santosh Dawara, DeAzzle & Volunteer for PNcamp.

 

Keep Calm and Attend PNcamp 2.0

You’re a dreamer? You’re a doer? You’re a doer-turned-dreamer? You’re a dreamer-turned-doer? If you are some or all of that, you are quite likely an entrepreneur!! It is no secret that a start-up’s journey is action-packed—identifying the right problems to solve, validating possible solutions, getting the product-market fit right, building an awesome product—figuring out the roadmap items to say yet to and say no to, scaling growth—and the challenge is to yet do it in a focused way. Sounds familiar? Worry not, we have one advice for you “Keep Calm and Attend PNcamp 2.0”.

keep-calm

If you are a discovery stage start-up, we have something specially tailored for you at PNCamp 2.0. Here are 5 reasons to NOT miss PNcamp 2.0.

Zeroing in on the product fit:

One of the biggest challenges a start-up faces is the right problem to pick to get product fit correct. There are many viable paths and how does one find the one. Learn to use the effectuation framework to help with entrepreneurial decision making in unpredictable environments.

Building the right product, building it right:

Having gone past the initial problem-solution fit validation, it’s extremely critical to build the right product, and to build it right, to build it fast. How do you define your MVP, how do you build a compelling yet rapid to build roadmap, how do you prioritize, how do you rapidly iterate? A track on building the right product for B2B companies by Suresh Sambandam address will cover “Building the right product”.   

Getting traction tips:

Finding right prospects, reaching them and converting them are key to getting early traction. Get insights from experts into mastering the sales funnel and process, campaign strategies, and hiring the right sales and marketing teams.

Product teardown sessions:

Beyond insights, tips and practical advice get ready for some coaching format feedback where selected companies will do a quick pitch for 10 mins and get feedback from experts. An excellent opportunity to not just learn from practitioners but also your peers and from their experiences and challenges! An immersive learning opportunity!

Building your own product tribe:

Join a social evening to meet and network with the experts and peers; and to make connections for life.

There are few seats left and you can grab yours here.

#PNCamp – No BS feedbacks and teardowns to build great products groundup

So, you got a startup. Great! You have a product ready and a few users/customers too, Awesome! I am sure you are super excited to take it to next level, right? But thats when the hurdles begin.

Users just do not understand it
Users don’t go beyond certain point
Our product is awesome, but Product lacks stickiness
I am not sure how to position our product
We have different kinds of users, how to deal with varied expectations of users
I don’t know where to find large number of userbase
I am a technical guy, I don’t know how to market it
User growth is very slow, we need some cool growth hacks

If some of these thoughts/challenges are lingering in your mind too, then you are not the only one. Trust me pretty much every startup goes through these hurdles in its early days. Sad reality is, vast majority fail to cross these initial hurdles and die early death.

“Almost every startup has a product, what they don’t have is users/customers”

If you are an early stage startup with a working product thats been used by a few users/customers and you are struggling through some of the above mentioned challenges, then look nowhere and block your Calendar for Oct 8th, 2016. iSPIRT is bringing PNCamp in Pune focused towards all the early stage startups.

whatsapp-image-2016-09-09-at-11-08-35-amPNCamp in pune is your grand opportunity to get candid feedback on your product and its marketing. If you are a startup with a prototype or product at an early stage with few users/customers but struggling to get further traction, then PNCamp is a great place where you could get an opportunity to showcase your product and seek feedback, inputs and suggestions on specific to your product. At PNCamp, experts will take product teardown sessions on following aspects.

  1. How to build a right product (great and useful product)
  2. How to market your product (product marketing, communication, KPIs)
  3. How to achieve 10X user growth (Use Analytics, customer feedback loop, sales tactics)

At PNCamp, India’s some of the most successful entrepreneurs are coming together to host one day focused camp and work with selected group of startups on their product, market and sales growth strategies. This one day focused action oriented efforts are equivalent to your one year of badly struggling to figure out things in dark.

Here is whats going to happen at PNCamp –

“You involve me and I learn maximum”. Keeping this in mind, PNCamp is structured in a way to maximize real action oriented learning. Its no Gyaan, No B.S. All real action, real stories, real candid feedback, real strategies, real action plan, real work toward real results. At PNCamp, successful entrepreneurs who are expert in their specific area of product, marketing, or sales growth will discuss their observations and learnings.

In case of B2B products, things such as the product quality, security, product learning curve, analytics, integrations, etc might be driving factors for initial success whereas in case of B2C products its visual appeal, user friendliness, pricing, discounts, customer loyalty, social appeal, etc could trigger the success. Hence each product need to be looked at it from various angles. At PNCamp, specific sessions are dedicated to deep dive in these areas. In B2B track, experts will discuss building a right product for B2B market, getting traction for your product, marketing strategies and sales funnel. In case of B2C track, the experts will delve into building products with focus on mobile an analytics, finding right KPI and organizing everything around it, product communication, and building a successful customer development strategy using feedback loop. After every session, a few select product startups will be given an opportunity to present their product, marketing strategy, or growth strategy. Experts and fellow participants will do a product teardown and give a deep dive feedback. In all 12 startups in B2C space and 12 startups in B2B space will get an opportunity to present and get detailed feedback.

Product teardown: In this section, select startups will provide a quick walkthrough of their product website/app. As each startup will get limited time to present, key is to stay focused on most critical or concerning area of your product. Experts and fellow participants will provide feedback on core functionality, usefulness, right fit of the product, visual and experiential aspect of the product. In the past, such product tear down has help entrepreneurs get amazing inputs in matter of minutes. Moreover it has opened up doors for more insightful beta users from the cohart. Product teardown session focuses on product flow, functionality, identifying specific KPIs and using analytics to derive insights, and immediate critical aspect that might be hindering product traction or stickiness. Founders will get actionable inputs that can be applied next day and see improvements.

Marketing/Communication teardown: Great number of startups have good products but fails on its marketing. Product marketing is all about positioning. It is all about clear messaging and creating a “hook” in user’s mind. Unique compelling product positioning is always a challenge, especially when your product has potentially multiple target segments. If your product positioning is correct, then it helps in driving marketing and create a growth strategy. In this section, select startups will get teardown about their marketing and communication strategy, how to build initial traction, building a customer feedback loop, how to think specific KPIs and organize things around it, how to use analytics to tweak marketing funnel, etc. Is the message clear and compelling enough to click with your audience, can it be improved further, etc. In the past, founders used the session feedback to improve their product message, website communication, emails, etc for which the group continued giving feedback.

Growth hack / Sales teardown: This is a piece everybody wants and wish for but is very difficult to achieve. Experts will ask select startups to present their current growth strategy and provide working session on building a growth strategy. B2B sales strategies, setting up sales engine, inside sales strategies, etc will be discussed along with tools and techniques. Useful tools, techniques and trends in B2C market, use of inbound growth hack techniques, from customer acquisition to conversion, retention and achieving viral growth will be discussed in detailed. This is a hands on session where startups will be asked to create a plan of action.

Get naked – At PNcamp, everything is transparent. So, one may think, “How can I disclose my trade secrets with entire group?”. Indeed its a valid concern, but its upto an individual founder whether and how much information they want to share with fellow participants. Our experience is that, getting naked has helped entrepreneurs more than shielding or hiding behind curtains. Plus, one unsaid rule of the camp is, “Whats said in the camp remains within the group”. Product nation is building a community of trustworthy entrepreneurs who are passionate about helping each others. Hence, its expected that you bring a transparency and will maintain confidentiality.

So, enough said about the camp and its structure. PNCamp, with this full action oriented day is looking forward to bring ton of insights to you through direct feedback and critical inputs to help you take your startup next level. This is a MUST attend camp for any early stage product startup. Do not miss this unique opportunity to catch the brains of experts and fellow participants through product feedbacks and interactions. So, if you are an early stage startup looking to take your startup to next orbit, then register yourself right away at www.pncamp.in Lets build great product nation, one prodct at a time! See you at PNCamp.

Guest Post by Abhijit Mhetre, founder at Canvazify. He is passionate about startup innovations and is a volunteer at iSPIRT

 

Announcing #PNcamp2(8th Oct, Pune) – Not bigger, but definitely better

In late 2013, the iSPIRT volunteer team I was part of decided that the best way to approach pn-camp-logo (1)the problem we had on our hands was to simplify it. We wanted to bring together a group of product people who were ready to ask each other the tough questions. When they came out of the event we were putting together, we hoped they’d be changed, they they’d find answers, and in the process, new questions as well.

And that is how we decided on the bootcamp format, which was so well received that we were inundated with applications. It was a great event, and we wanted to replicate it again. But other things intervened, and PNCamp had to wait. Until now.

This time, we are doing it way better. And in the experience of other events, we have decided to keep it small. So the bootcamp becomes an actual run through a difficult trail. No one can lag behind or hide. Everyone has to run, everyone has to move.

So what will this PNCamp focus on?
These things:

1. Product Market Fit
2. Product Management Principles that actually make sense in the real world
3. Sales and Marketing things you can go and do, like right-away

With a smaller, curated audience to ensure peer- learning, to learn from other entrepreneurs challenges and solutions, and to encourage deep, interactive conversations, we are going to be having focused group round tables. There will be no PowerPoint, no monologues; just tips, insights and questions from doers like you for you to ruminate on.

Are you excited? We certainly are. We’ll have a lot of updates for you soon. Watch this space. Please apply before 15th September 2016. We will confirm your participation by 25th September 2016. 

On Independence Day, India’s budding product entrepreneurs get the freedom to choose: Introducing the Product Nation Founders Hub(PNFh)

On Independence Day, we at Product Nation have an important announcement to make. This one was a long time coming, as we tried to classify, clear up, and target our efforts for the product ecosystem better. This update is mainly focused on the Playbook pillar, one of iSPIRT’s key initiatives, and will have effects on other fronts as well.

We are reviving some of the initiatives; to others we have added more rigour and form.

Depending on what stage(Discovery, Happy Confused) you are in as a founder you can leverage the iSPIRT programs accordingly. We now have a mailing list we call the PNFT (Product Nation Founders Tribe), where we will update subscribers on the Playbook and other iSPIRT initiatives. If you are not part of iSPIRT, but still want to receive our updates, please fill up the form.

This won’t make you a part of iSPIRT, though, and we reserve the right to extend invitations for smaller, more pointed events only to our members. Our programs like the RoundTables, PNcamp, and PNgrowth, are oversubscribed to, and therefore we extend invites only to curated startups.

Why on Independence Day, though? One, for purely sentimental reasons: our mission, after all is to make India a Product Nation. And two, we’d like to say that will better clarity, entrepreneurs now will have the freedom to choose which iSPIRT programs they want to be part of.

iSPIRT-Playbook LandscapeSharing some of the initiatives classified based on stages:

Pre Entrepreneurship – iKen
This is a boot camp aimed at folks planning a startup or who are in the early stages of their startup. It is based on a ‘by entrepreneur-for entrepreneur’ model and on the effectuation model put forth by Professor Saras Saraswathi. This is a 10-week exercise/task oriented course designed at gaining clarity and action. The participants do most of the work during the week and review happens at a 2-hour meet every weekend. Once they graduate, the community continues to meet to help each other through the journeys.
More details can be seen at ikenstartup.org
City: Bangalore

Discovery – PNcamp(8th October 2016)
This is a boot camp for product people, by product people. It is a day-long coming together of doers: ones who have been there, done that; and ones in the journey of getting there. Orchestrated by hand-picked facilitators, it promises focused, interactive, deep conversations within small, curated groups. PNcamp is a surefire avenue to find inspiration, insights and tips, and connections for life to tangibly get ahead in your product journey.  The 2nd edition of PNcamp is in Pune on 8th October. More details can be seen here.
City: Pune

Happy Confused – Playbook Roundtables
Playbook-RoundTable is one of iSPIRT’s most sought after community events. It’s a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups who are beyond the early stage. RoundTables are facilitated by an iSPIRT maven who is an accomplished practitioner of that particular theme. All RoundTables are conducted on a pay-it-forward basis. The only payment you have to make is to provide your undivided attention and active involvement in the process. Playbook-RoundTables are a dialogue and there’s no monologue. None.
Cities: Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad & Bangalore

Happy Confused – PNgrowth(25-27th November 2016)
#PNgrowth camp is a long term mentorship/peer learning program that is focussed and has only one one aim – category leadership. The second edition is being planned for 25-27th November and only 50 founders will get to be part of it. The theme for this year’s PNgrowth is “Achieving Good Scale”. We will be curating around 50 startups for PNgrowth this year. We have around 14 mentors who will be working with 50 curated startups for the next 12 months.
City: Bangalore

Product Tear Down sessions (Happy Confused & Discovery stage)
Product Tear Down session where SaaS founders offered their product to be teared down by expert SaaS founders and audience. The experienced SaaS founders publish guideline templates based on which they will provide feedback to brave startups. We hope to start this series on a monthly basis. Check details here
City: Bangalore, Chennai & Pune

Growth Stage – F6
A group of six founders whose startups are already making over $25 million in annual revenues, and are hungry to learn from peers about challenges unique to their life stage: namely, hiring sales professionals for tapping global markets and avoiding the mistakes that others have made. This group meets once in a quarter and is a closed group.

SaaS Community – SaaSx
SaaSx brings together best-in-breed SaaS entrepreneurs across India to celebrate, inspire & spark up the spirit of start-up ecosystem. It’s an exclusive invite-only bootcamp, created by SaaS entrepreneurs for SaaS entrepreneurs, as an opportunity to network, learn, and engage with the most passionate individuals in India’s startup ecosystem. We have done three editions and the next one is scheduled in the month of October.
City: Chennai

ProductNation Blog
We have an active blog where there is lot of information for Founders. Lots of learnings from PlaybookRTs have been captured here.

The key mavens who drive some of the Playbook Initiatives at iSPIRT are.

  • Aneesh Reddy, Capillary Technologies (Anchor for Sales Playbooks)
  • Girish Mathrubootham, Freshdesk (Co-Anchor for SaaSx/SaaS playbooks)
  • Manav Garg, Eka Software (Anchor for F6)
  • Pallav Nadhani, FusionCharts (Co-Anchor for PNgrowth)
  • Samir Palnitkar, ShopSocially (Anchor for PNcamp)
  • Shankar Maruwada, EkStep, (Anchor for PNgrowth)
  • Shekhar Kirani, Accel Partners (Anchor for Product Tear own session)
  • Suresh Sambandam, Orangescape Technologies (Co-Anchor for SaaSx/SaaS playbooks)
  • See a complete list of Mavens here

If you would like to apply for any of the initiatives at iSPIRT, please apply at http://pn.ispirt.in/apply

Amal Tiwari helped in designing the infographic & Sairam Krishnan assisted in editing this blog post. 

What You Missed at the #PNCamp

In case you are one of those who did not make it to the iSPIRT PNCamp for Product Entrepreneurs at Pune on December 4 and 5, 2013, here’s an overview of what happened during the two-day event.  Over 128 delegates took part in the camp that brought together entrepreneurs, developers and experts under a common platform for learning and sharing of ideas and experiences. Participants came from Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi, including distant places like Kochi.

Pune was a strategic venue as the city has about 400 startups who are contributing to the positive evolvement of software product eco-system in India. As  is usually the case with such strategic events, PNCamp provided the right opportunity to network with peers and talk to iSPIRT mentors that included icons like Pallav Nadhani, CEO, FusionCharts; Sharad Sharma, co-Founder, iSPIRT; Shashank ND, CEO of Practo, among others.

Focused Tracks

Day one of the event focused on Discovery Hacking for the early startups with initial traction. The experiential learning was aimed at taking the product entrepreneur on his forward march starting from its original plan to making the first successful sale.

Day two was more intense with discussions revolving on the difficulties getting the first few customers, validating the need for the product in the market, generating the first rupee (or dollar!) in revenue and how to grow the startup from a buzz in the head to a live organism.

There were numerous sessions that focused on what it takes to be a successful startup firm. In particular, entrepreneurs got deep insight into how to make the first crucial sale or pick the right timing of stepping up the gas to get on the fast track with your startup.

Positive Feedback

Participants felt the insights shared by peers were real and relevant.  Said Raghavendra Singh, Head-Marketing, Intellileap Solutions, “PNCamp is a great initiative by iSPIRT and focuses on select and right mix of entrepreneurs that enable a two way process. The learning and sharing of ideas, experiences, and strategies was very stimulating.”

The significance of being in the top ranking of a product category, the importance of its positioning and PR was not lost on anybody. Impressed by this learning, Praveen Singh. Founder & CEO of 99tests.com, a company that offers testing solutions, admits, “Differentiating your products is key to success and building a market for it is crucial, I gathered.”

Considering its advantages, PNCamp has become a not-to-be-missed event for product entrepreneurs. Says Rinka Singh, entrepreneur, a person who rarely entertains disruptions or hardly ever stays away from work, but makes PNCamp an exception, “It was a great experience listening to the speakers and connecting with various participants. Besides, the boot camp model allowed us to share problems, discuss them through with those who were in the same state as us and to learn from each other. It will be worth coming back for it next year.”

If you missed this one, we hope to see you next time around!

Product warriors, pick your battles!

The first question that I asked iSPIRT volunteers running PNCamp, the first ever bootcamp exclusively focused on product entrepreneurs in India, was why Pune? They pointed to Dilip Ittyera whose greying strands of hair masks his passion to firmly perch Pune on the product map of India. Later during many conversations, it became evident why Pune was the destination for the “product mafia” (term courtesy Pallav Nadhani) for an extended Playbook roundtable format bootcamp, the PN Camp, for a couple of days. In its subtlety, Pune hides its product quotient. There have been global success stories from this quiet city that really doesn’t hit you on your face: QuickHeal, Druva, Pubmatic and let’s hope counting.

Pallav infused energy in his intro to the camp that would make you say “let’s make it happen” with a pumped fist. The very essence of this bootcamp was to enable lifelong bonds between entrepreneurs so that they can learn from each other’s mistakes. For entrepreneurs operating with limited resources and entrapped in a lonely journey, the peer group lending a hand makes it even more exciting.

_DSC3188

Another unique aspect of the camp was “cohorting” applicants for maximum impact. Only one out of every two applicants was accepted and then divided into cohorts matching the state in which they are in their entrepreneurial journey. The first day was for entrepreneurs just starting out to “discover” (discovery hack) the way to do it and second day was for “happy confused group” (scale hack) where the entrepreneur has figured out the product, has found a few customers and struck there, without a clue on how to take it forward.

As each cohort groups were ushered into their respective sessions, intense discussions ensued. The camp organizers had made it clear that the sessions wouldn’t be gyan but experiential discussions. A successful entrepreneur had a presentation and the questions he raised were basically discussed by the 15 to 17 entrepreneurs in each group for over three hours. The successful product entrepreneur’s success becomes a playbook for success-aspiring entrepreneurs to follow and reach heights.

Pick your battles

There are only 24 hours in a day. And it is left to the entrepreneur to choose what he or she wants to do. Picking the right battles pays you rich dividends. This is the thought behind the session ‘Picking Your Battles’ by Practo’s cofounder N.D. Shashank. Basically, Shashank’s presentation centred on four questions:

  • Do you have a compelling story around your startup?
  • Is your product really different?
  • Why is it exciting?
  • Does your product really solve a problem?

Story: If you are unable to build a compelling story around your idea and the startup, you will be less motivated to continue. So just ask yourself if the problem you are solving or your idea will keep you going for x number of years. Then build a story around the idea so that anytime you are asked why you started up, you can tell the story, which will be appealing. It’s another matter that the story will get refined over time like the events in history getting different perspectives at different points of time in future.

Differentiators: How different is your product? It would be great to create an entry barrier for a competitor to replicate your model. Here Kunal Shah of Free Charge provided an apt explanation. Create something that will become a habit for someone to use. For example, although G+ has better features than Facebook, users don’t switch because they are used to Facebook. Only when another innovation happens that changes this habit, it would be Facebook all the way. You should think of ways to appeal to the users by making a difference in the way the product serves the user that he wants to come back and use it over and over again. Sometimes customers can become your salespeople that they recommend your product to their friends and people in the network.

_DSC3464

Excitement: Taking a cue from Practo’s experience, Shashank said that among the specialists, dentists were high in number. So dentists were first targeted for PractoRay, a Practo software used by the doctor to schedule appointments with patients and keep their medical records. This proved successful as more users felt excited to find dentists in their neighbourhood. Customers will buy if they find the product useful and not make a fuss over price.

Solving a problem: You should build features in your product that are must-have and not nice to have. Then you should ask if your customers will pay for those must-have features. Unless you are solving a real problem, customers will not pay. Usually, the problem you are solving is the problem you faced yourself. Shashank got the spark of an idea on a platform like Practo after experiencing difficulty in mailing his father’s medical records to an expert in the United States. Then he studied what ails the system and built Practo to address each one of the issues he observed such as waiting times for patients (Practo helps you schedule appointments), non-digital medical records (information can be stored using Practo’s software), storing them and sending them (possible in the Practo platform).

_DSC3216Many aspects of product building, feature adding, and finding customers were discussed elaborately. Just to give one more useful example, when there is friction, it’s best to have a basic free model and then price the product for different sets of customers. Differential pricing by adding features is another

Breaking the Status Quo: Takeaways from a Revolution Taking Wings #PNCamp

It’s not often I find myself in a roomful of people driven by a shared vision. Inspiration was inevitably seeping in. It took me not more than a couple of minutes to realise that I should count myself lucky as I was in the same room as the bravehearts who were changing the world one product at a time.

The inaugural ProductNation Camp at Pune was a movement taking shape. More than 120 startups were brought together in the most unique of formats resulting in 2 days of high-quality discussions, learnings and mindshare.

The message behind the format was loud and clear. “No sage on stage”. Entrepreneurs never learn based on a pre-defined syllabi structure. They love to disrupt, destroy and re-build. The 2 days were filled with gems of knowledge, actionable insights and conversations from the heart.

What follows are some which hit me hard:

  • Pick your battle and fight it out: A product can’t solve all the problems of the world. Shashank ND, Co-founder at Practo emphasised the fact that a startup needs to focus on a single problem to solve first and fight it out in the market with that one product. This approach ensures a laser sharp focus and allows for the best of resources to be spent towards creating value for the customer.

 

  • Tell your own story, avoid drawing an analogy: I heard few founders introduce themselves saying “I run a startup ____ which is like ____ but with ____. Think of it as Dropbox meets YouTube meets Facebook.” Such a narrow vision or outlook of one’s own product has huge ramifications in the way people react. Not the best way to build trust and confidence. Write your own story, be proud of it and build on it.

 

  • Build an experience, delight the user: The most successful of web products have delightful and simple design at their centre. Harshit Desai insisted that designer(s) and developers should work closely in a team to build the product. Have an inclusive design, avoid focussing too narrowly on a set user profile. 

 

  • Being shameless is truly being human: Entrepreneurs are not a differentiated human race. They are brought up in the same systems, and often many of them carry the “What will others think” baggage.  “Self-doubt and fear of failure take many down”, said Kunal, Founder at Freecharge.in. Being true to your product and your vision is about losing the baggage and being ‘shameless’. Perhaps a sales attitude often overlooked.

 

  • Two wheels and an engine, the sales hack: Shashank led perhaps the best session of the camp as he dived into the sales philosophy and concepts which he believes in. A photograph of his bike was up on a slide (he still uses it to reach customers). Hit the ground running, talk to customers, no one refuses a cup of coffee. “Spend a lot of time with the end-user of your product and convince them that it’s THE solution they seek.”

 

  • An engaging story comes before a good copy: “Good storytellers, writers are born, not trained”, said Girish, Founder at Freshdesk. Experience counts for little if you are looking to create content as a marketing strategy. Don’t just talk about your product, share your ideas, opinions and learnings with a broader context. With content, be there out-to-educate, not out-sell.

 

  • Technologists are great sellers by-the-way: Ashish Gupta, Senior MD at Helion Ventures is a technologist to the core and he took upon himself to convince us that selling is a challenge and not a handicap. Look around… Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs! Something common? – all techies who rose up to the challenge of selling products (isn’t it about that at the end of the day?).  

 

If I can speak up for many like me, we couldn’t believe that we were in a room of like-minded individuals who shared similar challenges, had fought through and risen up with their head held high. I guess that was the vision behind the format. These startups are sure to change the world in their own little/big ways. As the camp drew to its inevitable close, I was invigorated by the inherited treasure house of learnings, experiences and friendships. The team behind the initiative should be proud and I hope the movement only gets stronger by the day.

Guest Post by Tejaswi Raghurama  who is helping build Entrepreneur Academy at the National Entrepreneurship Network. 

This is just the beginning …..picture to abhi baki hai dost.

For every successful movie one requires a huge team effort from the story writer, producer, actors and directors to the light guys, similarly for a startup to benefit one requires the vision, passion, team work, the agility to implement and mentors. This is what the delegate exactly gets at the #PNCamp, where startups work in cohorts, learn from one another, share their insights and break barriers.

Depending on your stage of company – Discovery or Scale you go through a grueling camp supervised by your Drill Sergeant, by the end,  the cohort together achieves what they thought was not possible.

Cohort4-2So are you ready to see what you can accomplish, challenge the limits of your thought…then come on over in the 4th set at the #PNCAMP.