Originally published on the mobile spoon.
2020 is here and I thought it would be nice to reach out to some good old friends of mine, leaders in the product space, successful entrepreneurs, and basically check how they were doing.
I apologized for not returning their calls, not being responsive in the last decade or so, and then I practically begged them to answer a few questions that I believe would interest the readers of the mobile spoon.
I asked them to share some important product decisions they’ve made recently, insights and lessons learned, successes or flops, and finally, I asked them to share some productivity hacks that helped them become so successful in what they do.
But I’m a stubborn guy.
I don’t quit that easily, and plus, I may know stuff about a few of them… and therefore, here we are:
10 successful entrepreneurs and product leaders share their insights and tips about creating successful products in 2020
Here’s what they had to say:
“We’re no longer satisfied with simple automation of repetitive manual tasks”
CMO at Gong.io, Author, Forbes Council Member
“Consumers and especially businesses are expecting to see more and more AI driving intelligent products. We’re no longer satisfied with simple automation of repetitive manual tasks. We want to see our products make increasingly complex decisions and support our daily decision-making with insights, recommendations, and smarter automation. We also expect the user experience of B2B products to be simpler and delight us as much as we’ve become accustomed from many B2C products we use, like the Amazon e-commerce experience or the Apple retail experience.”
“We use Product Board to automate the gathering of customer feedback on the good, the bad, and the ugly in our product. It collects information from public and internal sources like G2 reviews and NPS surveys, so we have our finger on the pulse of customer requests and complaints. This helps us prioritize product development and areas for improvement.”
Udi Ledergor is the CMO at Gong. He is a 5-time VP Marketing with 20 years of industry experience heading world-class marketing teams for public and private companies across a variety of industries. He’s also the author of The 50 Secrets of Trade Show Success, a popular public speaker, and start-up adviser.
“Our respect for developers made us say NO to creating a public API for our product”
Founder and CEO at Any.do
“Despite popular demand from our customers, we avoided launching a public API for years. The main reason was because of our respect for developers and the amount of work it can take to maintain a high-quality API (we didn’t want to release a half baked, not carefully maintained with the product).
In 2019 we decided that instead of launching a public API, we will build multiple integrations to help us grow and monetize faster: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Zapier and WhatsApp. That worked extremely well for us.”
Omer Perchik is the Founder and CEO of Any.do. He is a passionate entrepreneur who loves putting simple yet effective products in the hands of millions. Fascinated with behavioral economics, neuroscience, and people at large, Omer sought to explore new ways of how people interact with the world and those around them. As the Founder & CEO of Any.DO, he aims to revolutionize the way people get things done.
“The best hack for making good decisions fast is not having to take them at all”
VP Products at Perception Point, Blogger, and Podcaster
“In 2019 we have seen the rise of data-driven product management and with it more and more product managers relying on data for their daily decisions. This trend has made companies aware of the need for data analysts.
Recently, this trend has started taking a wider approach with the rise of product ops role. When companies recruit good marketing leaders they almost always demand that a business analyst will be recruited also because they understand that they can do their job properly without proper data. I believe that in 2020 we will see more and more product leaders demanding a product ops person in their team to strengthen their position and their product. Having the product ops role will ensure better data gathering and analysis, better communication with the rest of the organization and better processes. Product ops role is going to be there to improve alignment, communication, and processes around product development, launch, and iteration.”
“The best hack for making good decisions fast is not having to take them at all. From the moment I enter a new product leadership role, I constantly work towards this goal to create a culture that enables decisions instead of a culture that requires me to take the decision and become the bottleneck. This is, of course, a never-ending job, but one that is very rewarding. It starts with defining values and product principles. It continues with defining proper strategy and working on a goal and problem-driven roadmap together with the entire team and ends with a willingness to accept decision mistakes from the entire team, as long as they are willing to put the time to fix them. It means that whenever someone approaches you for a decision, instead of making the decision by yourself, you spend the time working together with them all the “whys” so you can make the decision together with them and they learn the process for next time. Once you manage to build such a culture you do not need to be too productive in your daily work. You can start focusing on finding new problems and dreaming about the future of your product.”
Benny is an experienced and passionate product leader and entrepreneur with over 15 years of product management in various companies, products and markets. In his current role, he serves as VP Products at Perception Point, a cyber start-up. In addition to his day job, he acts as a mentor to many product managers both in programs such as Product League and Lead With, as well as informal opportunities.
“Web applications UX is becoming influenced by mobile UX simplicity, blurring the distinction between ‘mobile’ and ‘desktop’ even further”
Co-founder, CTO and Head of Product at Spike
“UX focus is more important than ever. Web and Mobile experiences are becoming more alike. Web applications UX is becoming influenced by mobile UX simplicity, blurring the distinction between “mobile” and “desktop” even further. Gesture-based navigation on mobile is becoming the new standard.”
“tips for handling emails more efficiently and effectively:
1. Email prioritization:
- Separate priority emails and other, less important ones
- Answer priority emails immediately instead of putting it off till later.
- Go over the “low priority emails” once a day
- This is simple with Spike, which splits important from low-priority messages.
2. Manage all your messaging in one place:
- Limit the number of apps you use
- Use one app for email, chat, calendar, tasks, file management
- This cuts down on context switching, wastes less time, keeps things simple
- An app like this didn’t exist, so we created it, and all from your inbox
Erez Pilosof, Spike Co-founder, CTO, and Head of Product, is one of Israel’s leading internet entrepreneurs. Pilosof founded Walla!, which became the first Internet media company and leading webmail provider in Israel. After spending over a decade on email and realizing it’s untapped potential, Erez is trailblazing the email revolution at Spike by reinventing the way businesses and individuals communicate.
“We have created a network of nano warehouses to improve our post-purchase customer experience”
Co-founder and VP brand & Design at Shookit
“It seems like 2020 is gonna be about 2 major trends:
- Eco-alternatives go mainstream — consumers want you to help them make a difference, evolving from a linear approach of create-use-recycle to create-use-reuse-sustain. We’re gonna see a lot of sharing and renting products ecologically and ocean plastic recycled packaging and products. Sustainable alternatives are starting to be affordable, reachable, and consumers are seeking for brands and products that will help them take part in the sustainable revolution. Yay!
- On-demand going faster — 2020 will be focusing on getting to the consumers’ doorstep faster, better, and hassle-free. BTW It’s predicted that 50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2020. We’ll probably see more of the rising evolution of voice experiences and Voice User Interface a.k.a. VUI.”
A product success story:
“We discovered that 60% of online shoppers experience disappointment during the purchase process — and mostly during the Post Purchase phase.
This motivated us to come up with our own solution, one that would give control over the post-purchase phase of the customer journey back to our brand, for the first time.
Instead of using a giant warehouse outside the city, we created a ‘nano warehouse’ model, with a local neighborhood distribution center.
Each night, a truck full of goods would arrive at the nano warehouse with the next day’s deliveries, and in the morning, a team of local entrepreneurs would handle all scheduling, deliveries, and returns.
It worked so well that we launched more and more of these local warehouses until we had created an entire network of nano warehouses throughout the city.
The business grew faster than we could imagine, and the results were incredible:
- Improved satisfaction: our customers received their orders exactly when they wanted them.
- Better retention: happy customers kept coming back!
- Increased AOV: they even purchased more with each order.
- We gained control of every step: The nano warehouses, located close to the customers’ homes, made delivery fast and easy. It made the return process smooth and simple. And it made the whole post-purchase experience much more personal, so we were able to create a special connection with our customers.”
- “Inbox zero method — if you haven’t read it yet you probably never will. (P.S — you can drag emails from your inbox to your tasks drawer on Gmail, that way — you can keep emails for later but keep your inbox ZERO.
- Use a task app, or just a pen and paper. Crossing things out is the most fulfilling feeling you can get (plus you will not forget anything!)
- If you’re stuck or not sure — talk about it with someone, just saying the words out loud will make you criticize yourself and get to a decision faster.
- Enjoy what you’re doing! It will show.”
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“ Roadmap isn’t about what we’re building, it’s about what problems we’re going to solve “
“In 2019 I started to change how I’m creating roadmaps for my team at Culture Trip. Ariel has been creating products for the last 14 years, focusing mainly on B2C startups. Check out Ariel’s amazing podcast —
The main shift is: Roadmap isn’t about what we’re building, it’s about what problems we’re going to solve.
How does it look like?
How will stakeholders understand what is going to be built in the upcoming months?
- Months 0–3 are about: we’re going to solve this problem by focusing in that area and experiment with these X/Y/X features/products
- Months 3–6 are about: we want to solve this problem(s) and we will explore/research this area in order to understand if and how to solve them
- Months 6–12 are about: we might want to solve this problem(s) but we don’t really know everything about it now, so we will get all the relevant data and decide later.”
“FAIL EARLY, FAIL FAST, FAIL OFTEN”
“We recently launched an important update to AppsFlyer’s fraud protection suite- Protect360. One of the new features introduced was a new protection layer called Post-Attribution Fraud Detection. This feature was very hard to “sell” to many of the company’s stakeholders as it went directly against what many in the company and the industry believed — that ALL ad fraud should be blocked or detected in real-time. Claiming otherwise could have heavy business ramifications, as our competitors claim this is something they do, thus putting us at a disadvantage.
But I had our clients’ best interest in mind, I knew that there’s clearly fraud that’s getting away and if my team managed to apply this new detection method the industry would have to shift the way it approaches fraud protection.
I managed to win over specific individuals by personally laying out my vision and more people understood our new direction, so we went ahead and developed a prototype.
Once we rolled it out it became clear what had in our hands.”
“FAIL EARLY, FAIL FAST, FAIL OFTEN.
With over 800 employees and 16 offices worldwide, AppsFlyer is not really a small startup anymore, but my team and I still think lean. Whenever a new product or feature idea comes up we start small with a POC and don’t go through the long processes of product exploration, UI and UX. We go ahead and develop a prototype, launch it and conduct our market validation by releasing the POC to our customers and see if they’re interested. Only once we get enough feedback from our clients so we go through the conventional process.
Startups have the benefit of a smaller size advantage, decisions can be made faster and more independently, I try and keep this mentality going.
This process can, of course, lead to its fair share of failures, but more often than not it will lead to priceless feedback from our clients and indicate the product’s market fit.”
“Summurai is a UX-first company, where UX design takes place in all of the aspects of the product, including sales processes”
International UX award winner | Founder and CEO at Summurai
“After 2 years of endless attempts to find Summurai’s market-fit on the B2B market, we started working with a sales agent. Watching him sell the product easily helped identify the correct messaging the product should move to. The new messaging tells the Summurai story from a different point of view, which seems to open the B2B door easily. Interestingly, we stated testing the new messaging in Facebook ads and found an outstanding engagement. The website and product messaging will start to follow soon.”
“As founders and product leaders, falling in love with your own feature requests is usually a mistake. However, I do think that joy of creation is an important part of being a founder and it’s sometimes worth that price.”
“Coming from UX design, Summurai is managed as a UX-first company. UX design takes place in all of the aspects of the product.
A unique place UX is taking place on is sales: we created quick processes to create live demos for the product and allow the sales guys to have the most high-end product demo, in a process that requires 15 minutes of work from the account manager’s side.
This allows the sales process to move from storytelling to showing. This method, together with a super high-end product experience — opens lots of doors for us.”
Tal is an international UX award winner and the founder and CEO at Summurai.
Summurai opens the door for brands to add branded audio content to their customer journey.
“When validating a startup idea, it’s important to build an MVP that drives adoption”
Product Builder. As seen on Product Hunt #1 and Lifehacker
“Earlier this year, I wanted to test a startup idea. I thought all I needed for an MVP was to build something functional and ship it to get people to use it.
Unfortunately, my “MVP” didn’t solve problems. Specifically, I built something that is functional and working but didn’t validate the hypothesis I wanted to validate.
When validating a startup idea, it’s important to build something that drives adoption. It can be engagement, paying customers, and it should help answer your initial hypotheses, even if it’s in the earliest version of your MVP.”
Once your product reaches a certain level of traction, segment your users to find out the most profitable use case or marketing effort to focus. Divide user segments by persona, user behavior, purchase behavior, LTVs, etc. Compare retention, revenues, engagement across all of these user segments.”
Zoe Chew is a product builder in tech & design. Her app has been featured on Product Hunt #1, Lifehacker & tech blogs from 7 countries. Currently, she leads the Product/Growth strategy at RemoteHQ. She also helps US/APAC startup clients in product, community and user base discovery.
“You’ll learn more about your product and your business in a 15-min conversation than in hundreds of hours looking at numbers”
“2020 will mark the explosion of the “privacy” era. With GAFA under investigation and the rise of public awareness towards privacy issues, this will become a fertile ground for newcomers. New products will use this opportunity to market themselves as the “X but private” (we can already see this trend). However, privacy won’t be enough for users to move away from already deeply rooted habits. Meaningful user experiences will be the main differentiator for those products.
Also, customers will continue to ask for authenticity and transparency from the products and the brands they follow. If those are not deeply ingrained in your company’s culture, it’s a great time to introspect on the matter!
Finally, sustainability is going to be a “HOT” marketing theme. With climate change knocking on our door, everybody has to change and adapt. Some brands will try to use this to their advantage, but be aware: FAKE won’t cut it.
And as usual, good design will win the hearts of the crowd. ❤️”
“The line between good and evil can sometimes be blurry. To shine some light onto your challenges, here’s one question you should ask yourself:
If people knew everything the product designers know, would they still act the same? Would they regret doing the intended behavior?
- Nir Eyal, Behavioral psychology specialist
If transparency and authenticity are part of your company values, this question can help you make better business decisions every day.
Spreadsheets will never question you. People will.
Try to get closer to your customers. If you haven’t talked to a customer in the past weeks or months, pick up the phone or get out of the building and start meeting with the people that use your product every day. You’ll learn more about your product and your business in a 15-min conversation than in hundreds of hours looking at numbers.”
Louis-Xavier is a Co-Founder at Growth.Design, a place to learn the growth and design strategies used by the top product companies in the world. Here’s one of his guides: 9,000 Subscribers in 9 months: 5 Key Tactics.
That’s it for this one.
I hope you found some useful insights that you can take back home (or office).
On a personal note, I would like to thank this amazing list of people for contributing to this unusual post. I know you are all too busy and yet you agreed to spare some of your precious time for this. I appreciate it, and I’m sure the readers feel the same.
And as usual — make sure to subscribe to the mobile spoon and become 23% more awesome than average.