Lessons learned in SMB fintech

In the last post, I highlighted that SMB’s are mostly a long tail business with a majority of the market at the smaller end of the spectrum. An insight that I did not appreciate going into this market is the amount of sensitivity to price. The statement that “There are three things that are most important in SMB, price, price and price” is 100% true! With most small businesses being small and not really in it to grow this price sensitivity makes a ton of sense. So if you are a startup in this space you come across an interesting squeeze.Read More »

Small Business in the USA – myths, and realities

Small Business is the biggest market in the US and this is the best place to start a company in

This is an oft-repeated quote in many pitch decks, sorry to inform you, dear reader, it depends. After spending a decade in the SMB space, I’ve learned a few things – what follows is an attempt to describe some myths and mistakes. Hopefully, you don’t fall into the same traps!

Myth #1: SMB market is huge in the US and is underserved. This represents a big opportunity

The huge number everybody trots out is ~30M small business in the USA, the engine of growth, big big market, main street America – AMURIKA YEAAAAAH. Alas in practical terms this is a long tail market. This data set from the SUSB is the best place to start. Just by looking at the distribution of firms by employee size it is clear that this is a long tail market. There are a large number of firms that are <10 employees.Read More »

Product frameworks |User emotion and feature tradeoffs

I’m a big fan of frameworks, they help us categorize and make sense of the world around us. As you are building products, frameworks help you systematically approach the process. I’ve always been intrigued by Reid Hoffman’s quote that mapped consumer social products to the seven sins. This was a great framework to map a product strategy to a core human instinct, in this case, vices.

With the consumerization of enterprise software can we do something similar? can we get derive a systematic framework that represents emotion in the enterprise world?Read More »

Platform rewrites, part Deux

The last post was about what to avoid, this post is about what you can do to make a migration successful.

Sequencing is key

With any large initiative, the natural impulse is to throw a lot of people at it. Avoid this impulse at all costs. At the beginning of the project, it is better to have a small team of your crack developers and senior engineers and PM’s to focus on building a skeleton of what the end state would be like.

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Platform rewrites, lessons learned

At some point in your product career, you will do a systems migration or a system rewrite. In this two-part series, let’s explore some lessons learned. This first post is about the things to avoid before starting a systems migration. The second post will walk through some practical tips for organizations on the most efficient way to pull this off.

To set the stage – How do you get to the point of needing a rewrite in the first place? The general arc of startups starts with an MVP that is designed quickly. It’s all lean in the beginning, this is the MVP phase. Most backend processes are manual. It makes sense –  you don’t know if there is product-market fit and so you don’t over-engineer and make a full end to end software solution. As you find product-market fit, your user base starts growing exponentially and you enter the bolt-on phase. There isn’t enough time to slow down and add incremental features to the core product to make scaling easier. So you start bolting on hacks on top of hacks, pseudo automation based on excel macros and more policies and procedures to keep up with the growth. Your software system now gets to spaghetti level status.Read More »

Great PMs deal with ambiguity

I’ve always been interested in figuring out what signifies greatness in PM, what makes a great PM?

AmbiguityInVagueness

A source of signal for me has been the ability to deal with ambiguity. Great PMs have this innate ability to take ambiguous thoughts/ideas/strategies as input and come up with a coherent executable plan which then they execute ruthlessly. A great PM has the superpower of bringing clarity to everything.

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Compete or Die – LiveNation Part Deux

Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more Successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing ― Andrew S. Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive

So who should LiveNation be paranoid about? Who are its competitors?

As we saw the last post, LiveNation can be thought of a vertically integrated full-service live entertainment company. A comparable public competitor is the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG). They also describe themselves as the premier live entertainment company. Via their 10kRead More »

Specialists vs Generalists – it’s nuanced and why you should read 10-k’s in your spare time

specialist

The topic of generalists vs specialists always comes up in PM hiring and strategy conversations. I see PM hiring managers and PM’s themselves struggle with this a lot. What got me thinking about this topic is David Epstein’s new book Range. The core thesis in the book is, and I quote, “Range explains how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization.” So how should you think about this topic? What are the nuances?

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