A couple months ago, I was attempting to understand good retention for an on-demand service business. I was trying to get benchmarks for what good cohort retention rates would look like for businesses such as food delivery, groceries, laundry, and home cleaning. The goal of this post is to summarize my key learnings about how to evaluate on-demand, service based businesses
In my role at Naspers, we help a variety of companies with their core metrics. Having had less experience with on-demand service businesses, my goal was to get benchmarks for what was good and great in the space to help our portfolio companies evaluate their performance.
I ended up learning that the benchmarks are not all that valuable unless you are taking a number of other metrics and variables into account. My key learnings from the knowledgeable experts in the Greylock Partners Growth Community were the following:
- The cohort curve needs to flatten out at some point. If it continues to decline to 0, that’s much more challenging and a product market-fit question.
- It’s important that the LTV payback time of the cohort happens relatively quickly and predictably, preferably within the first 6 months
- The density of the business matters. Oftentimes, the way these sorts of businesses scale is largely dependent on the density of customers and the ability of a single service person to work across multiple customers in a given geography
- It varies quite widely based on the type of service based business.
Continue reading Evaluating On-Demand Service Businesses
Back when I had a career coach, (her name is Teri Dahlbeck and she’s amazing) one of the most important lessons she taught me was the power of empathy. Like many people, I was fairly young in my career, assumed I was always right, and I would occasionally get into arguments with folks about who was right or wrong about a product feature, metric, business decision, or some other detail. She accurately identified this early on, and we spent a lot of time discussing how empathy can solve many of the problems.
The dictionary definition of empathy is : the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else’s feelings. It seems simple, but the application in the workplace is often fairly complicated.
In this post, I want to cover three areas in my career where empathy has been incredibly helpful:
- Defusing conflict with co-workers
- Communicating and selling others on priorities (especially when those people don’t report to you)
- Having more effective 1:1s and interactions with direct reports
Continue reading 3 Ways Empathy Can Help Your Career
Hopefully my last couple posts helped you get through negotiations and you now have a job at a startup or tech company. How do you ensure success in your new role?
When starting a new job, you’ve got a short window to make a great impression. You also need to set yourself up for success in what may be a role you occupy for 1-5 years or beyond.
If you walk in the door without a plan and just hope your new manager will have everything ready to go, you’re making a big mistake. Every time I start a new job, I find my manager is really busy and just hopes to throw me into the fray to see what I’m capable of. It’s always easier to assume that this will be the case, and then when you do have that perfect manager, you’ll be over prepared.
In my experience, you have 90 days to make a great first impression.
Continue reading Being Successful in Your First 90 Days at a New Job
Sandi from Quibb had a great suggestion to write a post about the soft skills needed for salary negotiation, so I decided to take a shot at it here. Would definitely love any feedback!
As outlined in my last post, there are many tactical elements you must consider when negotiating an offer. However, this post did not cover how to properly convey these messages to a potential hiring company. That’s the goal of this post.
For sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you have already received one or more offers (again, congratulations, that’s awesome!). And you have decided that you are going to negotiate with a company for a higher offer for any number of reasons.
Continue reading The Soft Skills Required in Salary Negotiation
I had been writing versions of this, and then Eric Bahn wrote an excellent post outlining all the elements of a startup job offer, so I can spend far less time defining everything. For many of the terms I’m talking about here, I highly recommend reading his recently published article here.
I’ve been on both sides of job negotiations, both as the job-seeker and as the hiring manager. So, I’ve seen a fair number of tactics executed in the process of people attempting to match a new role for themselves.
This post is designed to help the job-seeker through the negotiation process.
Continue reading How to Negotiate Your Offer at a Tech Company (or anywhere)
How to optimize your signup experience?
There’s often a debate that happens at companies – should you force registration or should you allow your site to be open to users and then hope to provide enough value that they register later.
While I understand the merits of the second and think that optimizing the experience to reveal some parts of the site is great, giving the entire experience away for free is a waste of an opportunity to capture the email and other valuable information about a user. It’s telling that the majority of leading web services force you to register (and most always have).
The intent of this post is to describe how to optimize your reg wall to get the most people through your process, to collect the critical information you need, and have as low a bounce rate as possible.
There’s also a lot of evidence that collecting more email addresses is almost always a net positive for revenue and engagement.
There are going to be a series of multiple posts going through various important parts of how to optimize your registration experience. In the first one, I’m going to do a quick case study on how to optimize the actual reg wall itself and the experience around it.
Continue reading 4 Ways to Optimize your Reg Wall
How do you become a product manager?
Its not a job that has a single path in. It’s not like consulting, banking, or law where you go step by step through the process, do the right thing, and end up one day leading a product management organization.
Personally, I randomly picked Intuit’s Rotational Development Program to start my career. I couldn’t have described the difference between product management and any other job at the time, and really didn’t even understand what I’d be doing until I actually started. I just had used QuickBooks for one of my dad’s businesses and thought “hey, that software wasn’t too bad, maybe I should work for them.”
Good PMs can literally come from anywhere, with a variety of backgrounds. It doesn’t necessarily require a technical background, a business background, or anything. I know PMs who are just as good coming from a technical background as those who may have studied something as non-tech related as English in school.
It certainly depends a bit where you’re coming from, so I’ll try to go through some scenarios on how to get that first PM job or get the skills where someone will even consider you an acceptable candidate.
Continue reading So, You Want to be a Product Manager?
I’ve been asked a fair amount, how should product management be structured at my organization or startup?
There’s not a perfect answer, but there are some principles.
Any good product management structure should have the following characteristics:
- There’s a singular person (a CPO, VP of Product, CEO, Head of Product) leading the organization responsible for setting direction, vision, customer focus, and metric focus
- Each of the product owners should have tightly focused areas of interconnected responsibility. In the majority of cases, it’s easiest if each PM has 1 or 2 key metrics that they are focused on.
- When combined together, moving these metrics advances the company towards the product vision and increases the success of the company. If you move all your metrics up and the right and you aren’t improving as a business, it’s time to pick new metrics
- It should be obvious and apparent what area each product owner runs, what metrics they are responsible for, and how it impacts the business. If you have a PM working on special projects that don’t advance your startup, it’s time to question the purpose of the role (and you might need to fire the person if they can’t be repurposed)
- Product organizations are adaptable. As the business evolves, they need to grow and evolve with it, either to tackle new areas of the business or to fix problems in existing areas.
What follows are different examples of how you can think about structuring your product organization.
Continue reading How to Structure Your Consumer Facing Product Team
This topic has been about written extensively. I drafted this for a company I was consulting as they were getting their product management function into place for the first time and wanted help understanding the exact role of a product manager.
After writing it, I realized it sounds quite a bit like Ben Horowitz’s Good PM, Bad PM essay from years back, so I’m linking it here to be clear I had no intention of stealing the concepts from that post (although I did write it independently and realized how similar it was after reading it). Good PM, Bad PM
What is product management:
I view product management as the embodiment of the business, the customer, and the technical side of the company. It’s your responsibility to balance across all the stakeholders and make sure that you are the person pushing the product and the business forward.
Continue reading What is Product Management?