My Independence – End of a beginning

This is the final post in the series I started a few years back when I left US and landed in India (see first partsecond part and third part). It has been an inordinately long time since I wrote last in this series, and it must be attributed to my lack of perspective on things that were unfolding in my journey. It took me time to make sense of some things!

In my last post 20 months back, I had outlined a few options around rejigging my portfolio and I had to choose one or more:

  1. Continue to stay 1-person army and try to become high-end (thereby increasing my per-hour revenue)
  2. Hire and grow Palash into a consulting practice
  3. Rejig my portfolio by moving from people-intensive offering to technology-intensive offering

It turns out that I had not accounted for vagaries of my mind! I ended up making a choice that was not on the list by any stretch of imagination.  Continue reading

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My Independence – Growing up

This is part-3 of a series in which I am writing a post every 6-7 months to chronicle my entrepreneurial journey (see first part and second part) and share my roadblocks as well as lessons. It is hard to write connected posts with such a long gap, you tend to get lost in details and what to exclude. Let me try to distill my thoughts and present a short version of my last 7 months (this is still a very long post!).

I left the last post at a point where I had just come out of a pretty depressing phase where nothing seemed to be going for me –called ‘informed pessimism’ in psychology literature – and I had entered ‘informed optimism’ phase. Most of the comments suggested that people thought I was on the verge of giving up, and they tried to encourage me. I have good news for them: I am continuing on the same path, with much more determination and fun. All of your best wishes definitely worked for me! Continue reading

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Learning Product Management from City Administrators

Two real stories, one long and one short, and an observation on how you can learn product management from city administration.

Story 1: Caring about unmet need

I live in Greater Noida, which very clearly has been designed by people who thought a lot about city planning and had lots of creativity. Roads are very wide (even small streets are 4-6 lanes), Sectors have Greek names (Alpha, Beta,..), and every type of property has a designated location (all schools together, all colleges together, all factories together, all shops together, etc.). Continue reading

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B.Tech Degree Shops (aka engineering colleges) – Who will clean the mess?

Recently I met a 3rd year student of a private engineering college in Greater Noida. To avoid problems for me and the college, let’s call the College Best Standard Institute of Technology (BS-IT). Here is the profile of the student I met (let’s call him Sam), so that you can decide for yourself if this is a representative sample of students going to normal private engineering colleges in the hope of good education and degree:

Class XII – No name school in a no name place with average marks because he was preparing for IIT-JEE in Kota for 2 years

Class X – Top notch school in an industrial township, average marks

Decent performance in school level Maths and Science Olympiads (the ones that start from Grade 2-3), very good at logical and memory-related skills

Middle-class family, father a PSU employee Continue reading

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IIT Mania – Can kids be kids?

Recently, I read the news about JEE (Advanced) Delhi topper (who is also JEE 4 nationally), who said

I have been preparing for five years for this exam

Wow! This means he started when he was in Class VIII, aged 13-14 years. He goes on to say

When I had school, I usually could put in about four or five hours of study every day, but as soon as the holidays begin, I usually put in about nine hours minimum

So when was he doing things 14 year old kids are supposed to do – like playing with friends, net surfing, reading non-textbook books, watching TV, playing pranks, socializing, etc.? Continue reading

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Enabling Product Managers to manage Product Experience

In my last post, Product Manager, or Product Experience Manager, I described the disparate features and experiences that got broken in SiteZ and made the case that product management team should be responsible for overall product experience. In the final post of this series, I will present my views on how product management team should manage experience so that such issues can be minimized or avoided. Note that I am not talking about creating initial product experience or its next version, which is a topic of itself. I will focus only on managing the product as it goes through incremental changes.

There are 3 questions that must be answered by product management team at all times (and should be asked periodically):

  1. Are we seeing all the activities we should be seeing?
  2. Are we processing all the activities we see?
  3. Are we making good decisions based on our processing outcomes? Continue reading
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Product Manager, or Product Experience Manager?

In my last post Experiencing the product, or productizing the experience?, I talked about my experience with SiteZ and how their overall experience left much to be desired even though the core product was good enough. In this post, I will try to analyze things that went wrong which shouldn’t have.

Here are 5 things that went wrong for SiteZ if I look from a customer’s perspective:

  1. They misled the user about the time it takes to register.
  2. They didn’t allow the user to abort the registration attempt gracefully (which left the email address behind and created rest of the mess).
  3. They were not forthcoming about who is sending me these spam emails (the email address was hidden with a display name that was the advertiser’s).
  4. They exposed a feature to me (unsubscribe) which didn’t work
  5. They didn’t give me an easy way to delete my account – emails bounced, UI didn’t have a button to delete, etc. Continue reading
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