iSPIRT works to transform India into a hub for new generation software products, by addressing crucial government policy, creating market catalysts and grow the maturity of product entrepreneurs. Welcome to the Official Insights!
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
We had some very good hosts @ Vizury office and also joined by their product folks Shiju and Subra for the Product Round table that was organized last Friday. The other awesome people who were part of the event were Siddharth Ramesh (Exotel), Jose (Weavedin), Vinay Simha (Dfy Graviti), Sridhar (ex-Inmobi), Avinash Raghava (Product Nation), Nari Kannan (The man with experience of over 7 startups and currently working on a project for Barack Obama), Anjali (Capillary), Chandra (i7networks), Santosh Panda (Explara), Venkatesh (Insieve), Pandith (Impelsys).
The discussions revolved around 3 things in Product:
1. How to track growth & health of a product or Product Metrics
2. Product v/s Sales (When to listen to customer and sales person and building the feature)
3. Product Marketing
and 2 small sessions of Santosh explaining his re-branding story from Ayojak to Explara and Venkatesh about how they balance in a unique way not building before selling and working on product demo’s without having to build the features.
Sridhar led the moderation of the session and showed his secret sauce of a graph designed for Product decisions:
The graph helps Product folks take decisions based on a problem, and how ideally first level and second level product problems when probed can be solved by Education & Processes. This sort of product thinking gives more bandwidth to technology & product managers to focus on building the tech as well, apart from features as a solution to everything. It helps keep your product from being stretched into a services play.
A lot of discussions around how sales folks like to ask fore more features, and how to decide what to build and what not to, but the graph helped a lot.
A snippet on the learning from Santosh’s Ayojak to Explara journey was that he communicated the brand change much in advance internally and decided to leave aside feature requests etc. and kept focussed on the UI/UX and internal communication of the change. It helped everyone realize that multiple massive changes should not be attempted together.
Venkatesh also spoke about how they develop new feature requests in a staging environment, and release it just for the customer in a prototype without pushing the code into the product, and ask him/her if they will pay for this and is this what they want. It is an interesting way to get a yes from the customer before getting your tech team working on something which might or might not sell.
All in all, everyone had some great learning’s, a few beers and cookies along with chai and coffee thanks to the Vizury team, and we hope to get some more Product Roundtable’s running consistently and involving more of the product companies to have cross learning’s via sharing best practices.
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 Ghosh, Lalitha Ramani, Vivek 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.
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.
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).
I met Avinash a few weeks back to share details about zest.md, and to discuss some of the challenges which we are facing. Avinash, helped me to understand a lot of issues better, and invited me to be a part of the #PNMeetup to discuss it with a larger group. To be honest, I was apprehensive initially, but seeing the conviction with which Avinash said that it would help us, I agreed and I am so glad that we did go and share our challenges at the #PNMeetup!
Zest.Md is a SaaS platform which provides with medical practitioners with a solution to get started with online consultation process, using their own website. One of the key challenges which we shared with the group was on how to drive initial engagement with the medical practitioners who sign up. Another aspect which we discussed was around pricing. Currently we have a single price solution, and we were in the process of considering Freemium model – what should we keep in mind while designing Freemium so that we don’t end up losing paying clients.
#PNMeetup was a great experience it was very refreshing to be amongst people who have been involved with various stages of product development, themselves. It was a very different space than the other entrepreneurship events that I have been in, almost everybody here was currently running an online product company, and they understood dilemma and the criticality of the decision around such questions.
I had attended along with two other members of my team, and the one of the greatest reaffirmation was that, there is no single answer or a single point of view when it comes to even simple questions pertaining to a product. Many a times we, as young start-ups, tend to get bogged down or keep changing paths based on feedback from a single person. Being at #PNMeetup gave a reassurance that it is justified that we were so concerned about our decisions on these questions as they are not so straightforward, and at the same time the forum was a great place for us to take feedback from a group as a whole, and it helped us to identify the range of possible solutions from which we could chart out our own solution. 🙂
Thanks Amit, Devendra & Avinash for helping me in the presentation and briefing you provided and for the opportunity. I really liked the venue and seating arrangement, and I feel that the ambience was instrumental in creating an informal atmosphere where people could exchange frank and honest opinions.
P.S.: The highlight of the day was meeting up with Amit Ranjan, co-founder Slideshare and to see him share his thoughts candidly! 🙂
My name is Vinayak and I’m the Founder & CEO at Zest.md.
When a bunch (around 45-50, I didn’t keep the count) of Product enthusiasts – with experience accumulating into decades – gather at a single place to share their learning on specific topic in a compact & well-moderated session of 2 hours, it’s worth every bit. That’s how I felt coming out of the inaugural session of #PNMeetup – Pricing for Enterprise Sales: Specific & Important Topic, Quality Participation, Richness of Experiences, and Quality Conversations.
The location, Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi, carries a constant buzz and energy. Very apt for a meet-up like this. Kunzum Travel Café (Thanks for being a great host for the event!), should be happy because participants used up every nook & corner of the place. Many of us had to settle down on the carpet with no more sitting or standing space left! Of course, the snacks & coffee was great too. But, that’s not what everyone coming in was specifically looking for (especially since the last 500 yards got harder to make with the traffic and parking situation ;-)).
We were looking for some great (practical, experience based, relevant) conversations and takeaways on Pricing. And, there was plenty of it, coming from speakers as well as from the participants. As much as is possible in 2 hours of time, that is, also thanks to some great moderating & counter-questioning by Arvind Jha during speaker sessions, and Rajat Garg & Vivek Agarwal in the un-conference session.
Tushar Bhatia, Founder of Saigun Technologies, set the tone for Enterprise Products Pricing by sharing his experiences on Pricing Strategies and Sales tactics. Tushar emphasized that Pricing is not a linear decision, but a complex process and subject to assessment from multiple parameters. He also differentiated the Pricing Strategy from Sales Process. Pricing, as per him (in the context set of Business Planning, Scalability, Consistency, Standardization, and a reflection of the Value Proposition) is a guide at broader level, while on sales tactics front, one should be willing to consider the customer & geographic circumstances as well. The decision matrix for Pricing decisions typically is pretty complex, and a product undergoes multiple iterations of pricing models
before arriving at the sweet spot. However, various types of customers may need to be assessed in their own contexts when deciding on a deal pricing, especially in the traditional Enterprise Sales scenario.
Tushar also emphasized that the Enterprise Licensing deals should consider not only the product pricing, but also the other costs (such as, hardware) and provisions (such as, for Product Support). The considerations on TCO are critical, because the customers assess the products, not only functionally, but also very critically from an operational viability perspective in longer term. Tushar also laid out few questions that need to be answered while deciding the pricing model. The detailed presentation from Tushar on “Pricing for Enterprise Sales” can be found here.
The discussion, then, veered towards the product pricing strategies in areas such as Telcos, serving also as a cue for Tarun Anand (CTO & Co-founder at Semusi) to pitch in and provide his perspective. He shared his experiences in working with the big Telcos on working out product strategies and pricing models. They tried out various pricing models, in partnership with Telcos especially, and had mixed results over time before arriving at something that seemed to work. However, pricing remains a volatile when dealing with the larger partners and in more complex ecosystems, such as Telcos.
In Tarun’s experience, one needs to ascertain that the partners in the ecosystem are ready to take your product to the market if that is the expectation. It is also important to ensure that the pricing terms & conditions are clear, and you are able to hold the customers as well as partners accountable in the operational limits as much as you can. After all, you want to focus on running the business and do not want complications of financial & legal nature. In the context of Pricing and products strategy, in areas such as VAS, as per Tarun, one needs to be very careful. “VAS is dead” in his words! 🙂
Tarun also emphasized “there are takers for product at ANY price point”. One need to clearly understand whom one wants to target, and also understand that it’s not only a question of moving the pricing point up & down in inverse proportionality with the volume of customer base. There are various triggers for the pricing, one of which is the “premium value perception”, and also the fact that once you move into a market with a particular price point, increasing it later on is almost impossible without hurting your customer base and overall strategy.
The heat in the Mobile Apps makes the App Pricing a very sought after topic, and that’s where Prashant Singh (Co-founder at Signals) came in and provided a good framework for the high level App pricing approach. There are two clear distinct possibilities – Free & Paid. Complete Free, as per Prashant, directly leads to an Ad based model for revenue that shouldn’t be a preferred model as such for most app developers. In fact the question is not whether to go Free or Paid. Question is when is the user ready for monetization. “You hit when the iron is hot, as simple as that”, Prashant says.
Prashant provided a high level framework to judge which approach should be adopted by the App Developers, based on the two parameters: “App Life Span” and “Time to Realization of Value”. Based on a combination of the two, one can decide on the high level strategy (Portfolio/Platform/Utility/Device Embedding/Brand Apps…) and Pricing model (Advertisement, Paid, Transaction based, Freemium, Development level, and so on). Check out this presentation – App Pricing Tactics for more details.
One key point that drew interest was around the Price Point for App at the launch time. Contrary to the normal belief, Prashant says, one needs to launch the app at a price point that is higher than the Median price point for the App store. That provides the App Store an incentive to showcase the App, and it is important since App Stores control the downloads more than the “content” or “quality”, at least until critical mass. Growth Curve of the app can be maintained around Median and depending on the value prop of the App, the baseline pricing can be used at sustenance phase. Another strong point of view from Prashant came around the Advertisement model, which as per him is the last to be considered. And if Ad model is considered, his advice is to “not” let the control away – “Always have your server in loop”.
While all the content and discussion, and few laughs in between, served well to our appetites, snacks were served amidst a quick “Unconference” session moderated by Rajat and Vivek. We discussed and debated on some great points. I’m finding it harder to capture every bit here and I don’t want to be partial to only what I remember right now! I hope that if you attended and are reading this, you would be able to add your takeaways in comments section! 🙂
Overall, I had a great time. The highlight of the session, for me at least, was the richness of experience and passion for products. And I met some really cool folks! Many of us hung out until later in the night and continued the conversations, which is a great sign. A small impetus can go a long way, and I’m very excited that Avinash has triggered this spark that all of us as a community have to fuel into a passionate ecosystem around products. Great initiative, ProductNation! Looking forward to the next edition on Jan 19th 2013!
PS 1: And, there was a cake-cutting for Avinash on his Birthday! Great gesture!
PS 2: Some Tweets from the session!
#PNMeetup “Enterprise decision cycles are long” Absolutely! Sometime too long in India – have felt it many times!
The event was kicked off by Arvind Jha starting out with a round of introductions. It was quickly realised that the community was well represented and people coming from Noida, Gurgaon and Delhi was heart warming to see. Arvind then went on to describe how diversity is important when you are running a business. Different regions, different customers and hence different pricing make it a much complex environment. It is in this scenario that choosing a good pricing model becomes important in accordance to your business model and scaling needs. Arvind then went on to invite Tushar from Saigun Technologies to share his thoughts and take the meet forward.
Tushar started out speaking on the relevancy or the need of pricing. The context here was clearly set when he announced that the discussion here is setting up ideas on enterprise pricing which is a whole different ball game as compared to consumer pricing. Factors like evaluation of potential customers, kind of money received from them, directing sales teams, consistency and setting a value to the offering brings in the need of pricing. He then went on to speak on the various challenges in enterprise pricing such as long decision cycles, decision matrix complexity and competition, no matter how good or new the idea is can never be neglected. A great example he shared was the case of Saigun’s HR product which is different to an HR manager and to a CEO. An HR manager would see it as tool which would reduce his work and a CEO would see it as an investment and in turn happily show a few pink slips to some of his HR managers. Tushar also spoke lengths and breadths on total cost of ownership of the product as well as the brand image when setting up your price. A cost is not just determined by the development cost but the service associated with it, the tenure of such a service is an important consideration. One cannot afford to give service away free. Brand becomes important in case when you have an established player in the market already. A SAP can price its product at 2 million but it is fairly practical to say that only SAP can. This is because of the trust and recognition it has built for all these years it has been in existence.
Tushar then spoke on the key parameters to a pricing strategy. Geographic focus and segregation of the offering based upon location always helps. The inclination of the pricing strategy to the company’s overall business strategy is another parameter one should look at. The case of virgin market and mature market were discussed to great detail by all participants. Tushar also shared that apart from his experiences the book written by Nagel on Strategy and Tactics of Pricing has helped him a lot. By this time the crowd appeared to really appreciate the thoughts of Tushar and his experiences. He then concluded with a short brief on the need to do discounting and how discounting eventually becomes a strategic view more than just being operational. He was applauded by all and then Arvind invited Tarun Anand from Semusi to take center-stage and share his thoughts on selling to enterprise customers, in his case, telecommunication service providers or telcos.
Tarun started off with his encounter with an Indian telco. His product offering took off on Nokia’s platform and with Middle-East customers. The product was well received and this is when Tarun decided to launch it in India too. The subsequent agreement with an India telco major pushed the product to India. However, moving forward it became clearer when the telco abruptly changed requirements and priced the product to almost 1/5th of its competition. There were cases of non-payments and violation of contract agreements with the telco as well. The rationale given here was that the product is new and there are not many takers for it. But when Tarun checked, the product had sufficient number of users as well as sufficient number of dropouts. It is here when it becomes important to choose a suitable pricing model, the two he suggested were full user pricing (FUP) and promotion pricing. In this case, eventually he rebranded his product and sold it through the app store which gave him a much better insight to the actual customers of his product.
After Tarun it was Prashant from Signals who was invited to take center stage. Tushar started describing pricing techniques for an app store. The question of whether the product should be transactional priced, free, in-app pricing or ad-based was put forth by him. The even bigger question that needs an answer first is to go free or to go paid for your product. This question really gets answered by a research on ‘when the user is actually ready to be monetised’. Tushar then went to describe the price decision matrix which was split across quadrants of short life span, long life span and instant realisation, realisation after a period of time. Games, Social network apps, Dropbox and VAS were examples spread across these quadrants. So the eventual decision is to place your product in one such category and accordingly accept the price model that comes with it. Another very critical talk by Tushar was on choosing a price point, the baseline (99 cents), the maxima ($1.20) or the median (between 99 cents and $1.20) for your product or app. If one goes by baseline, then the app store owner has no incentive to give your app the preference in his listing even if you have greater number of downloads. So he suggested that it is always good to keep your product priced at maxima and then slowly move towards baseline pricing depending upon the realisation value of the product. Tushar concluded his talk by adding some avoidance measures when choosing an advertisement based model.
It clocked 5:30 PM and refreshments followed in the form of tea and samosas along with flowering of ideas by everyone in regards to the overall feedback on the initiative and the format of the initiative, ways it should be carried out in the future. Finally everyone joined in to celebrate Avinash birthday and cut a cake which was the most pleasant surprise of the day. Sign of great things to come from this emerging community of product leaders.
Pricing is a mix of art science. Most product startups have a hard time figuring out their revenue model (freemium or, paid only) and what they should charge. If you chose freemium, you have to be careful that cost of incremental customer is low and it will be great, if this customer also helps spread the word about you. On the other hand, if you choose paid, you run the risk of having minimal traction, especially if your sales cycle is long and complex.
In either of the business models, you need to have clarity on who your customer is, what they are really looking for, does it have a direct impact on creating additional revenue or, eliminate inefficiencies and what your competitors are charging and why. Is your sales cycle long or, short? In a product company, you expect to cover the cost from multiple customers and not just one. However, most businesses falter as they fail to take into account the cost related to acquiring paid customers and customer service.
All being said, do remember that for most companies, pricing is an evolution as your product is.
You will hear from our experts on how they went about pricing their products and what if any adjustments they made along the way based on their learning.
#PNMeetup is an initiative by ProductNation and is meant for Entrepreneurs, Product Startups, Product Managers in the NCR Region. Here you can share, learn and network with fellow Product Managers and also discuss new trends innovations, get feedback on prototypes and insights from experienced people in the industry.
These meetups will be done on Third Saturdays of the month and will include an opportunity for professional networking. If you would like to volunteer and make a difference to the Product Eco-system in NCR, do send us a mail at volunteerpn.ispirt.in
Limited seating and registrations is strictly for Product Startups and Product Managers. No onsite registrations will be allowed. Register Now to avoid disappointment. This is a closed event and If selected you will get the confirmation for the event.