Nov 20, 2021
Startup
3
 min read

Building Products vs Company — what I learned building Zeda.io

I have been building products since the beginning of my career. How I got into this field as a fresh graduate is another story of luck and product sense. But yes I have launched some decently good products, worked with great product teams, and companies.

But if I compare it to building a company, the quote “PM is CEO of the Product” jumps out of the window. Not to say Product Management is easy, but it is focussed, and especially when you have been like me, part of billion-dollar companies, where resources are not much to complain about, even though I always wished I had more designers and engineers.

But now I am working less on defining the product, but more things are to be taken care of like legal, investors, hiring team, talking to users, doing business deals with potential partners, even getting Wi-Fi/laptop arranged, setting up accounts, and the list goes on. Thank god I have a co-founder in this journey.

Someone over the weekend said, for you, it should be easier building Zeda.io since you have already built products, worked in startups, and managed people. I had a smile on my face, but deep inside I was screaming, if only I could vent out. But that is another thing about being the founder and CEO, you can’t rant anymore. So, I decided to write a blog to share some things I have learned so far on how Product Management and Entrepreneurship are different and similar-

Differences –

  1. Product, although one of the most important elements of the company, is still one part of the company. If you don’t have a great product, you are doomed to fail. But if you have a great product, it doesn’t mean you will succeed.
  2. You understand the real cost and implications. How a product or feature is going to impact the business, company, and strategy becomes more important. Your cost of an engineer, designer, and marketer starts aligning with the product. In short, your product just doesn’t remain a thing you have to ship, but a ship which you have to sail.
  3. You become more strategic in thinking and approach. Earlier, I used to have my product vision and product strategy in mind. So, my prioritization will be within features using the RICE framework. But now you have to think strategically in terms of company. Is this the feature which my users from a mature market like the USA want? If yes, then how should I prioritize against my requirement to be SOC2 compliant? These are two very different questions with different levels of context needed. Now I have to take the call.
  4. You are now managing marketing plan, design sprint, hiring pipeline, engineering (though in my case @Vaibhav helps me with this), and product definitions. So, you are more empathetic towards various stakeholders. Basically, now you know how all the wheels work in motion to run the machinery called the company.
  5. You become more mature. You are no longer involved in small talks/politics with your colleagues during coffee breaks. You start discussing the roadmap, the business plans, the future plans of the company. Furthermore, you know you are the founder, and each word coming out of your mouth has a lot more weight than just a PM, and thus you need to be careful.

Similarity —

  1. You still have the Imposter Syndrome. People expect you to know stuff that you don’t know, and you have to just learn on the go. (FEMA/SHA/ODI, My investors will kill me if they got to know I had no idea about these terms till 2 months back.)
  2. You still lead without authority, at least you should. Though now you have authority, it is still the best if people are working for the vision, users, and problem and not because you asked them to do something.
  3. You still have to do a lot of context switching, and your mind may be into N different things at any point.
  4. You still have to do stakeholder management, just that now your stakeholders include investors, business partners, and your company.
  5. You still don’t have a good tool to manage your product. I am working on it at Zeda.io for this. Sorry for the product placement, but seriously I believe Zeda.io will be super helpful to entrepreneurs, to define, manage, and collaborate on their product all at one place. Making even the investor, user, and team onboarding calls super easy and smooth.

If you are an Entrepreneur or a PM, please do share any point if I may have missed or something you would like to add.