Startups benefit from sound product management techniques

Pinkesh ShahDo startups need product leaders? Yes, says Pinkesh Shah, Co-founder and Director of Programs, Institute of Product Leadership( “Most founders have to transition from focusing on technology delight to customer delight. Hence, startups benefit from sound product management techniques. A Product Leader will help reduce fatality of products and the number of iterations, and launch a more marketable MVP (Minimum Viable Product),“Pinkeshreasons, during the course of a recent interaction with YourStory, over phone and email. Read on.

Examples of how product leaders can add value in startups. Also, examples of startup failures owing to gaps in product leadership.

Most founders are the startup’s first product managers. Steve Jobs was Apple’s first Product Manager.

In our experience, many successful Product Managers invariably turn entrepreneurs. The Director of Telecom Major, a recent ICPM alumnus, quit to launch an innovative second screen based mobile app, Teletango. Another alumnus is building an innovative app for paediatricians called Appzoy. So, product managers are already impacting the startup ecosystem.

About the short-term intervention in IPL for startups, and the questions that the participants bring up.

IPL, essentially, acts as growth incubator. We follow a BYOI (Bring Your Own Idea) approach with our participants. As a result, we see a significant number of alumni turning entrepreneurs, post the program.

Another important feature of the program is ‘Immersions’. In the final leg of the course, a participant implements his learning from the course in a startup and he is graded based on his impact. Thus, startups avail high-quality resources to solve their problems.

Questions, generally, centre on whether ideas/ learning will be vetted by industry experts/ VCs, and whether the course will be delivered by professors and academicians or industry practitioners.

Our USP is the fact that programs are facilitated by industry practitioners, who have built and scaled world-leading products, and endorsed by technology heads of Fortune 500 companies and key industry bodies.

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India’s advantage, as you see it, in product leadership, and the opportunities that will arise for entrepreneurs, going forward.


– Culturally, Indians are experts in jugaad, or innovating under constraints. This is a very viable skill in product management.

– Due to the service economy and outsourcing model followed over the last couple of decades, India’s technology breadth, from Cobol to web 2.0 and Hadoop, is huge. And, so is the talent availability.

Combined with the right amount of product thinking and leadership, we can have a thriving startup ecosystem.

Any other points of interest.

Key to India’s transition from IT backoffice to IT backbone is the scaling up our talent resources. Courses have to adapt to cater to an individual’s aspirations. A one-size-fits-all course such as an MBA, a graduate of which is eligible to work in finance, technology, operations or marketing is soon becoming redundant in this changed economy.


Pinkesh Shah is a Silicon Valley Executive who has been a Product Management Executive for the last 14 years in US. Most recently he was the global Vice President of Product Management at McAfee R&C BU(now acquired by Intel). Having played a key role in understanding how global products have to be adapted to work in emerging markets, he also started the product management organization in McAfee India. Shah started Adaptive marketing ( a vision to create next generation product managers and marketers in India to enable technology product and services companies to market their product globally. He is a guest faculty at several B-schools like IIM Bangalore, Amsterdam University etc. He is an angel investor and is currently one of the founding Board member at Institute of Product Leadership (– a Business school focused on technology professionals.”

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