6 Months. 3 Lessons. 1 Startup.
I worked with a startup for 6 months between October, 2015 to March, 2016.
180 days in this organization, taught me way lot more than what I learnt during my MBA and/or in more than 4 years spent with multi-national companies, I worked with.
I joined the young organization, with the only intention of learning as much as I can, which will help me to start up on my own in the future. And the experience truly paid off without a doubt.
3 big lessons I picked during the last 6 wonderful months are:-
Working on different business functions.
As a product manager (or as a member of product management team), got exposure and hands-on experience with multiple number of new tools, new technologies and new ways of solving problems.
1. I learnt on how to write personalized cold emails (record reply rate of 10%)
2. I learnt on how to gather customer problems and practiced hearing more than talking (conducted more than 50+ problem interviews).
3. Involved with inbound marketing team with content at different phases of the product. (problem awareness, solution awareness)
4. Working closely with co-founders, on understanding what's the market, the market size, who is the customer, what's their paying capability and more.
5. Making engineers believe in us and making them believe that something we are thinking off is definitely possible in a given time.
Importance of lean and MVP.
In like just a few days after I was in the company, I started hearing to these terms so much like never before. I started reading about them and in the process became a big fan of Ash Maurya and his concepts on building lean product startups.
1. I realized like N number of mistakes I made in the past when building products (like Let's Volunteer) or I see my friends (startup enthusiasts) building huge websites (product or service), wasting lots of resources (time, money, efforts).
2. Building lean, building the first 3 features that's required for your product, identifying those features actually, filling of lean canvas, more and more.
3. These lessons are for my life and I can proudly say that today I can build a product lean very successfully. (already implementing what I learnt in building a self-drive car rental website)
The Culture of transparency and ownership (be it a success or a failure).
I have never seen in my life (professional or personal), a group of people working towards a goal, being so transparent. Even at times, we see our family members or friends hiding a few things from us. However, this place, was like, you have all the passwords openly known to everyone at the tip of their tongues, (including company's credit card numbers and codes), you have all the excel sheets open to everyone (salaries, expenses, customer payments, churn, what not), and I strongly believe that's like the family it has to be which we even don't see at our homes these days.
1. Success is celebrated with crazy fun among everyone, while at the same time, failure is so transparent, that the person responsible puts his/her hand up to own it up the same way.
2. I learnt the real meaning of leadership is standing among rather standing ahead of your team members. Our Co-founders, took the blames many a times on wrong ideas, wrong steps, wrong hires etc. And that needs a lot of will and quality of life to do that.
My tenure was so short with the company, however, it was truly so sweet and memorable. Even today, I advise with strong will and reasoning on why should one join a startup rather than an established company (yes, definitely a few terms & conditions apply).