What It Takes to Become a Great Product Manager

What It Takes to Become a Great Product Manager by Julia Austin

Because I teach a course on product management at Harvard Business School, I am routinely asked “What is the role of a product manager?” The role of product manager (PM) is often referred to as the “CEO of the product.” I disagree because, as Martin Eriksson points out, “Product managers simply don’t have any direct authority over most of the things needed to make their products successful — from user and data research through design and development to marketing, sales, and support.” PMs are not the CEO of product, and their roles vary widely depending on a number of factors. So, what should you consider if you’re thinking of pursuing a PM role?

Aspiring PMs should consider three primary factors when evaluating a role: core competenciesemotional intelligence (EQ), and company fit. The best PMs I have worked with have mastered the core competencies, have a high EQ, and work for the right company for them. Beyond shipping new features on a regular cadence and keeping the peace between engineering and the design team, the best PMs create products with strong user adoption that have exponential revenue growth and perhaps even disrupt an industry.


Distribution by Ben Horowitz

When I ask new entrepreneurs what their distribution model will be, I often get answers like: “I don’t want to hire any of those Rolex-wearing, BMW-driving, overly aggressive enterprise sales slimeballs, so we are going to distribute our product like Dropbox did.” In addition to taking stereotyping to a whole new level, this answer demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of how sales channels should be designed.



Arlan Hamilton and her firm, Backstage Capital, have raised a new seed fund for underrepresented founders.


Backstage Capital, a venture fund that invests in underrepresented founders — “women, People of Color, and LGBT founders,” according to the firm’s website — announced a new $36 million fund on Saturday that will invest exclusively in black female founders.

“They’re calling it a ‘diversity fund,’” tweeted Arlan Hamilton, the firm’s founder and managing partner. “I’m calling it an IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund.”


"What I’d do differently if I were the CEO of Kellogg’s" by Ryan Caldbeck

The world of consumer goods is changing at a breakneck speed. This isn’t a shocking revelation to anyone who’s worked in or around the sector. Consumer tastes are becoming more and more fragmented and big incumbents continue to lose market share to upstart brands. It’s often difficult for these incumbents to figure out how to respond. On paper, a lot of big CPG companies look great. They’re full of smart people, they have well recognized brands, international distribution networks, and a lot of money in the bank. Despite all this, many of these brands have seen their sales stagnate or decline over the past several years.    


Once-Hot Social Startup VSCO Finds Success With Subscriptions


VSCO, a hip photo-and-video-editing app popular with people younger than 25, captured attention as a startup riding the early mobile, social wave. Instagram tried to buy it at one point and VSCO later raised $70 million in venture funding. But finding a profitable business model was tougher. To cut costs, the Oakland, Calif.–based company closed its New York office last January.

Now, 7-year-old VSCO has found new life selling subscriptions. VSCO says it has amassed more than one million subscribers in the 14 months since it launched a $20-a-year membership program called VSCO X. It offers photo filters, which it used to sell only individually, as well as video-editing and photo tutorials.


Primary VCs Q1 2018 Seed Funding report: Optimism and seed-stage FOMO persist despite 2018’s lackluster start

If it was action you were hoping for from the seed market last quarter, you’d be better served watching the first two episodes of Silicon Valley, Season 2Pizza anyone? As for our own startup news, New York City saw a total of 25 seed deals completed in Q1 - just shy of last quarter’s 26 - and a total of $39.2 million in funding, which was down 26% from Q4. Compared to this time last year, Q1 saw 29% fewer deals and 32% less in total funding.