Today I’m talking to Janna Bastow. She is the co-founder of ProdPad along with Mind The Product.
Janna is a Product Manager by trade and she built her product SaaS and product community for Product Managers 🙂
We talk about what it means to be a Product Manager. Janna does a great job clarifying that for me as sometimes that definition falls in many grey areas.
We deep dive into the story of ProdPad. Her SaaS app had a great growth from 2012 and Janna has some interesting stories to share about challenges she faced.
[3:29] The origin of ProdPad and Mind The Product. Managing the 2 organizations.
- “When we launched ProdPad we assumed that the typical user would look like us, tech startup with up to 50 people working alongside a Trello board; but the reality is that larger companies have larger needs and have larger interest and budgets for this app.””
[14:09] What is Product Management. How to get into it. Comparison with Project Management.
[23:05] Competition. Balancing what competition is doing with listening to customers. Liabilities of building new features. When to really pay attention at competitors.
- “Pay attention what the competitors are doing but don’t let them change your vision on the spot.”
- “I like to think about competitors as what your customers would be using if you didn’t exist.”
- “Founders are the first product managers. But after growing the team it comes a point where they can’t manage the company as well as they manage the product.”
[28:59] Launching and growing ProdPad. Rebuilding the SaaS to move from a timeline chart roadmap to a time horizon roadmap.
- “That’s the role of a project manager, to tight the big picture vision of the company with What are we doing next?“
[44:51] Challenges. The big mistake to rebuild the whole app without a clear vision, while growth flatted out for an entire year. How they had more conversions by reducing the trial time from 30 to 7 days.
- “If you don’t have a reliable fast app there’s no point to build new features.”
- “I realized the only number I could play with was conversion rate from free trial to paying customer. And so we realized we didn’t need more developers or more sales people, we just needed product minded people which fortunately the company already had.”
[55:47] Plans and trends for 2018. The rise of Product Management.
- “Nowadays we see the rise of the Chief Product Officer. So now Product Managers don’t report into tech, report directly to the CEO.”