Archive for the ‘Startups’ Category

The Art of Product Management.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

I have been researching the trade of Product Management in today’s tech driven world.

There are a lot of interesting takes on what this person should do and the role of this person in an organization. And the best description of this “unicorn” comes from Ben Harowitz found at the Stamford’s Leadership of Technology Ventures program.

I re-posted the text here:

Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager
Courtesy of Ben Horowitz

“”Good product managers know the market, the product, the product line and the competition extremely well and operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence. A good product manager is the CEO of the product. A good product manager takes full responsibility and measures themselves in terms of the success of the product. The[y] are responsible for right product/right time and all that entails. A good product manager knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan (no excuses).

Bad product managers have lots of excuses. Not enough funding, the engineering manager is an idiot, Microsoft has 10 times as many engineers working on it, I’m overworked, I don’t get enough direction. Barksdale doesn’t make these kinds of excuses and neither should the CEO of a product.

Good product managers don’t get all of their time sucked up by the various organizations that must work together to deliver right product right time. They don’t take all the product team minutes, they don’t project manage the various functions, they are not gophers for engineering. They are not part of the product team; they manage the product team. Engineering teams don’t consider Good Product Managers a “marketing resource.” Good product managers are the marketing counterpart of the engineering manager. Good product managers crisply define the target, the “what” (as opposed to the how) and manage the delivery of the “what.” Bad product managers feel best about themselves when they figure out “how”. Good product managers communicate crisply to engineering in writing as well as verbally. Good product managers don’t give direction informally. Good product managers gather information informally.

Good product managers create leveragable collateral, FAQs, presentations, white papers. Bad product managers complain that they spend all day answering questions for the sales force and are swamped. Good product managers anticipate the serious product flaws and build real solutions. Bad product managers put out fires all day. Good product managers take written positions on important issues (competitive silver bullets, tough architectural choices, tough product decisions, markets to attack or yield). Bad product managers voice their opinion verbally and lament that the “powers that be” won’t let it happen. Once bad product managers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail.

Good product managers focus the team on revenue and customers. Bad product managers focus team on how many features Microsoft is building. Good product managers define good products that can be executed with a strong effort. Bad product managers define good products that can’t be executed or let engineering build whatever they want (i.e. solve the hardest problem).

Good product managers think in terms of delivering superior value to the market place during inbound planning and achieving market share and revenue goals during outbound. Bad product managers get very confused about the differences amongst delivering value, matching competitive features, pricing, and ubiquity. Good product managers decompose problems. Bad product managers combine all problems into one.

Good product managers think about the story they want written by the press. Bad product managers think about covering every feature and being really technically accurate with the press. Good product managers ask the press questions. Bad product managers answer any press question. Good product managers assume press and analyst people are really smart. Bad product managers assume that press and analysts are dumb because they don’t understand the difference between “push” and “simulated push.”

Good product managers err on the side of clarity vs. explaining the obvious. Bad product managers never explain the obvious. Good product managers define their job and their success. Bad product managers constantly want to be told what to do.

Good product managers send their status reports in on time every week, because they are disciplined. Bad product managers forget to send in their status reports on time, because they don’t value discipline.”

Calling all innovators: Don’t miss the #LATISM Hackathon!

Friday, September 13th, 2013

With the excitement of our conference this year, and all the great things that we’ve prepared for all of you, we couldn’t be happier to announce our first ever Hackathon (¡¿un jaka-qué?! you are probably asking). A Hackathon is an event that engages computer programmers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate and create projects that positively impact the Latino community.

It is also a vehicle to introduce products and ideas that benefit from the Latino market. Hackathons are known for allowing people to problem solve together as teams. “El Hackathon” will be hosted on Friday, September 20th, during our 5th Annual National Conference, LATISM’13, at the amazing Waldorf Astoria in New York City. For a 24-hour period, hackers will be scrambling to execute and produce their concepts into demonstrable functional hacks.

Hackathons allow people to isolate problems and create forward thinking solutions in a creative, yet fast-paced manner, due to the limited time available to perform. This helps people focus on core systems and their “MVP” or Minimum Viable Product.

The goal for the event is to get as many people involved in the innovation process. Teams are then asked to “Demo” their hacks, which exercises a vital part of the innovation process on how to explain an idea. The biggest benefit of hackathons, are the increase awareness around emerging technology and products.

This year’s prizes for the winners of “El Hackathon” include a grand prize of $5,000 for the best hack, chosen by our panel of judges. With sponsors in the ranks of Google, AT&T, McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson and Toyota, this is sure to be a pretty fancy hackathon!

All are welcome to participate. For tickets and more information for this event visit: 

How We Won TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon NYC 2012

Friday, September 7th, 2012

So I decided to go to the Disrupt Hackathon this past May to get some free snacks and maybe even a Beer! After a few hours of bumming around and talking to people; trying to convince them to do a little mapping hack. I ran into Justin @justinisaf who had a nice little idea at hand. He wanted to create a little hack for A-B testing of product performance, which I though had legs but sounded kinda boring. I told him I would think about it and get back to him.

I spent another hour talking to other hackers about their projects, sharing my ideas, giving each other feedback and suggestions. From previous wins at these things, I found that the best way to reach that amazing idea is by putting your idea on the table. Shoot it out there, tell everyone about it and take good notes on the feedback. As I was telling everyone about my ideas for hacks, I realized that there was one a crucial element that was not very strong on all my concepts. It was not strong, not because the idea was bad, but because I had not spent enough time thinking about a way to monetize the idea. This is often the downfall of great concepts at hackathons.

Thinking back to Justin’s hack, I saw the great potential for the product and you could see that there was something there waiting to jump at you. I went back to talk to him and after another 10 min of dialogue, the synergy could be felt and I decided to join the project. The team consisted of Justin, Tyler @tylerstalder and Jon @jonmarkgo

We all chiped in to develop different aspects of the hack with one goal in mind (after some discussion on what the hack was actually going to be). The Hack would be called Thingscription and it would be a platform that would allow anyone to subscribe to any product for home deliery. Once you bought a subscription to a product (like shaving cream), you would get your product in the mail every week, month or whatever amount of time you chose for the subscription.

What was great about this hack, its that it started with a nifty way to do business and it expanded into a general money making machine that would benefit the average Joe.

After a pound of snacks, a gallon of Beer, a barrel of coffee and the occasional redbull it was 3am and decided that Justin would present Thingscription, so it would make sense that he go home, get some sleep and look pretty for the camera =) For the rest of us, it was break time, perhaps a massage courtesy of Mobli and then a well needed nap!

From 4:30am till 9am it was crunch time, designing, coding, frameworks, elevator pitch! The MVP is always the main focus and features are fun to talk about but placed way, way in the back burner.

Before we knew it, they moved us out of the main hack space so they could setup for the Main Disrupt event. And then while putting the final touched on the hack it was almost time to present! We were #31 out of 92 teams. #27 was presenting when our team was called to set up! Jon was literary still coding as he was walking up to setup the laptop for demo.

The presentation went well and we were confident that we gave our 100% on this project. You can see the presentation here:

After the presentation, we grabbed some coffee and actually started paying attention to the other teams; which I must say, had impressive hacks. My favorite project was this hack called Poachbase, a website to go find talent from startups that did not make it. Such a great idea, and so funny! All the teams finished presenting and the judges went to the back to discuss and pick winners.

When they called everyone back in, the sponsored prizes were announced; non won by Thingscription as expected. Most of the prizes are won by hacks using sponsored APIs, and we did not use any of those. We kept it real and went out on a limb to make a project we thought was cool and had potential to make some $$.

The finalists were finally up, third place went to Practikhan “A platform that lets teachers create their own online quizzes to share with their students.”

Second Place went to Poachbase, which I thought was well deserved! And the winners, which I felt for a slight millisecond might be us, but then realize that there were 40 other projects that were just as amazing. Is… Bla bla bla bla bla!?? When the winner was announce, I completely spaced out and did not hear the name of the hack. I looked over at my team, and they were all looking back at me super shocked! And then finally Justin clarified the whole thing by exclaiming; We WON!!!

It was a very cool moment, yet we all felt we deserved the darn first place. A well thought out idea, with skilled hacking and an awesome team!

Here are some highlights:

From Artist to Entrepreneur

Friday, April 27th, 2012

“Entrance to Heaven” by Oscar

It’s been an interesting 2012 so far. And if the world happens to end by december, then I have spent the last days on earth working for nothing. My guess is that the world is not ending. My guess is that a new age is being born, the age where our little friend the micro chip and us will be more intimate than ever.

“Spheres” by Oscar

Since I began my quest to interpret the world and encapsulate my perspective through art, I have found many things that I would never have expected. The first thing that I found, was that art is not just visual, as a matter of fact, its not just physical. Art can be found everywhere from Architecture and Engineering to Medicine and Business. Its all there, staring back at you with the memory of one thousand exponential ancestors. The craziest thing is that the more you know about everything, the more you begin to make sense of things that once were invisible.

Pythagorean Sky
“Pythagorean Sky” by Oscar

One of the first artists I knew and my favorite artists till this day is Salvador Dali. I had the pleasure of seeing his amazing work in various part of the hemisphere.

“Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory” Dali, 1954

Most of his work I understood immediately. It was the surreal content that he became famous for, but there was other work that made no sense to me. It was his late work. Fast forward a decade or so, and I have finally begun to figure out where he was in his intellect and his understanding, fascination and frustrations of the world. As I learned more about life in my terms, I began to assimilate to the work he was creating. Is as though every so often when I would figure something out about life, I unlocked a new concept in one of his paintings.

“Gala looking into the mediterranean sea” Dali, 1976

And this is why even after all these years, the madman that everyone carelessly forgot about, resonates so deep in my yet to be made memories. It makes me exited and looking forward to all the new things I will learn as I go.

“The Swallow’s Tail” Dali, 1983

An other artists that inspired me to make the leap into the unknown is Da Vinci. I always wondered how he became so smart and so creative, in ways that seemed more than human. I mean he created art and a bunch of crazy machines and innovations, like the crossbow:

or wings!

He also created “The Last Supper” depiction which brings me to the entrepreneurship…

You are probably familiar with the famous image of Jesus having his last meal with his disciples. But you rarely see this image in the actual wall it was painted on. As you can see on the image above, the image was painted on a wall and that wall contains other images. The images above the last supper are emblems, shields of the family that commissioned Da Vinci to paint the famous painting. What does this have to do with entrepreneurship you ask? Well, the fact that Da Vinci did not create the painting to satisfy his fascination and intellect. He made the painting because his business was art. He was an entrepreneur that got paid to make ideas and then got paid more to make them come to life.

Not all creative people are successful entrepreneurs. The ones that are not fearless enough to make a business of their own art end up becoming apprentices or assistants to the artists that took the leap. One of my favorite inventors was Nikola Tesla, one of the smartest and craziest people that the planet has seen. You would think that some one that smart would be able to capitalize on his creativity.

The truth is that he died a bankrupt, lone man. Some of his innovations were far superior than other innovators at the time, like Thomas Edison. The difference is that Edison knew money and how it worked, resulting in Tesla working under Edison. Had Tesla mastered money the same way that Edison mastered it, the world may have been a bit different. The lesson here is that Ideas are cheap and if anyone got rich by coming up with ideas, I like any other artist would be billionaires. The bottom line is that an idea is worthless in our Capitalistic world. In order for an idea to be influential, it has to make money. Just look at the last supper painting by Da Vinci, its still making money even today.

This brings me to my own endeavors. As I sit here looking for inspiration to keep on going with my bootstrapped ideas, I made an observation that is encouraging me to keep on going. I noticed that the shields on top of the last supper look like badges.

I take this as a sign that the company I co-founded, Badger Media Inc. has a chance to make it. The same way that a noble family made a shield to represent their kingdom, people can create a badge to represent their wisdom.

We are in the process of rolling out a new website that will allow people to explore and participate in the mapping of things easier and to share not only with other people on badger, but with people in other networks like facebook or twitter. There is more coming too!

The truth is that being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It take more than guts, it takes fearlessness and a bit of recklessness. In today’s society, we are taught to follow rules, stay inside the lines and to take others into consideration. These are good rules, it makes great workers. As an entrepreneur that sees flaws in the current system, I realize that the status quo is wrong. You cannot expect to have a kick ass company if all your “workers” are followers. Its kind of like a team that requires the acknowledgment of its captain before doing anything; that team will clearly not win any games. What you need is thinkers that will talk the talk and walk the walk. Thinkers that deliver. Of course that is all an optimistic point of view on business. So I will seattle for people who are willing to push the status quo just a tiny bit.

As you can probably tell by my blabbing, I’m clearly a rookie at entrepreneurship. I feel like I’ve been in an internship to learn how to make companies come alive, build them from the ground up. And from the looks of it, i’m only getting started. Stay tuned for more companies. Companies are the new art… or are they the new black..?

…in other news, the Enterprise zoomed by NYC today:
original by rui here: