We’ve grown from a founding team of 3 to a global team of 100 in just over 3 years. It’s an incredible achievement for many reasons, but most importantly it’s because it has been sustainable. The one thing I’m most proud of during this period has been our ability to provide high-quality product management to every Founder we’ve partnered with. This hasn’t happened by chance either. While we are blessed with an incredibly talented team across the company, the product team is where I’ve been able to make my impact.
This article explains the traits and skills that underpin product excellence at Founder + Lightning.
Before we dive in, it’s worth reminding ourselves of what product management actually is. It is the process of analysing a problem and coming up with the best solution. Here at Founder + Lightning that means starting off with user research and market analysis before fleshing out the product requirements piece by piece. Constant feedback loops and iterations then take the product forward as we prepare for launch and beyond - Product Managers and Delivery Managers are at the frontline of this journey. Now back to those traits...
The most important thing is that we live, eat and breathe product. For those of you still unsure what product actually is, it’s the amalgamation or intersection between data, people, processes and business systems. It doesn’t matter what industry your business operates in. It matters that we obsess over the interactions that occur between the forces behind the product. Paying attention to these helps us to create mental models and ways of thinking that are easily transferable across industries. It’s a winning formula and one that we have applied across travel, finance, communications, property and lifestyle to name just a few.
Application of technology
The nature of our business means that we work with a broad range of technologies. We’ve had the pleasure of working with the likes of blockchain and artificial intelligence but we haven’t done so because they’re the latest buzzwords. We’ve worked with them because they offer genuine value to the businesses we are working with. By understanding what technology can do, and how it can be applied, we make informed decisions alongside our Founders. We understand the array of options available and we constantly push ourselves to stay up to date with what is emerging. It’s this knowledge that has also enabled us to save our Founders a lot of time and money by opting to avoid these technologies because there simply isn’t a business case for them.
Another essential trait within ucreate is our empathy towards Founders. A Founder is anyone who is about to start or has started their business. So whether you are an industry professional, serial entrepreneur or a thriving business, we understand how you feel. Most companies claim to understand their customers but they barely scratch the surface. We’ve experienced the highs that come with successful launches. We’ve also experienced the lows that come when a startup flops. These experiences allow us to connect with Founders on a deeper level. We are able to put them at ease and it is their trust in us that allows our relationship to flourish.
Now it’s not as obvious as it may seem with this one. It’s not about being the loudest person in the room or having the gift of the gab. It’s about being a persuasive leader. Anyone can shout the loudest but not everyone is a distinguished intellectual. Thankfully we have a plethora of intellectuals here at ucreate. Individuals who carefully analyse the options, pour through the data and put themselves out there in the real world. They are incredibly fast at what they do but they don’t rush. They ooze confidence because they know what they’re talking about. It doesn’t take long for our Founders to find that out.
Propensity to adapt
Having knowledge and processes is one thing but adapting them to changing scenarios is another. An ability to adapt to changing circumstances or verticals is imperative. Even if you operate within a single vertical such as e-commerce you still need to adapt to the many modules within it. You might be working on payments one minute and messaging the next. It’s so important to be able to adapt your thinking and apply it to what life throws are you. I’m proud to say we’ve taken that a step further at ucreate by adapting our approach to work with the many verticals we are presented with. So whether it has been a marketplace, SaaS platform, e-commerce website or B2B communications we’ve been able to deliver experiences that delight the end user.
So if you’re looking to achieve product excellence I’d recommend finding a Product Manager with the traits and skills mentioned above. We find them to be highly effective and while traits of passion, empathy and confidence are difficult to teach you can learn how to apply technology and adapt to change.
I’d love to hear if you agree and if there are any other items you would add to the list, tweet us @Founder_L.