Designing Great Products: A Startup CEO’s perspective

This is a re-post of a writeup by our CEO, @_adi_jain for ProductNation on designing great products.

I had the opportunity to attend iSpirit Foundation’s #PNMeetup: Design great products through experiments – Product Leadership Workshop on 20th April 2013 at TLabs in Noida.

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 GhoshLalitha RamaniVivek 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.

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