Startups and Product Management
As I spend more time in startup-heavy Austin, I think more about the role of product managers in startup companies. In most cases, that role is implicit–there is no “product manager,” per se, but rather a CEO and/or CTO who have a vision for a product and who chair a personal quest to bring it to market. There is plenty of risk here for those who understand product management and have delivered products to market.
The fact is that as demands placed upon a startup company mount, the focus of the CEO begins to split to operational and technical issues. If someone is not dedicated to the product itself, it seems very easy — to cite but one example — to experience feature creep where people think additional functions “can’t hurt,” while they’re really not focused on the specific target market and whether or not that target market will actually use the feature being considered.
In a recent On Product Management post and the related comments, several of my peers argue for hiring experienced product management early in the life of a startup to avoid missing the target and delivering a product that isn’t a winner. I hereby add my “ditto” to those opinions.