Failed Startup to Product Management


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I closed my startup down in 2017 after working on it for around 3 years. I won’t get into details of how the journey turned out; there are countless unique stories on the same, with nerve-wracking incidents of successes and failures. Some become unicorns and some die a slow death. However, life goes on, as it always does.

I failed to launch a successful venture. However, once I called it quits, it was disappointing to realize the dearth of resources when it came to helping entrepreneurs who want to pursue a job further on. And for a guy, who was in a dire need of positivity, Product Management as a career choice has been fulfilling.

I would be honest here. I gave in my everything to the Startup, but it was work done in a shell. Yes, I read a host of books and blogs on Lean Methodology, Web Designing, Database Management, Fund-raising, Scrappy Business Tricks, Success Stories, Sales, Marketing, Leadership, Ideation, and sorts. Yes, I had a team of trustable and talented co-founders and employees. Yet, it always boils down to getting work done, jugaad as we call it in India. Somehow, this trait of being unorthodox proves to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it proves to be instrumental in scaling up a startup to make it a profitable company. On the other hand, it leaves the founder in a confused state of mind when it comes to gauging one’s skill set and aspirations in the event of changing career paths.

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Again, it’s a subjective comprehension and there might be people who have had an entirely different experience. But I hope this article resonates with people who should know that they are not alone. Once, I got some time at hand to figure out what to do with my life, while on a break after shutting down my company, there were quite a few choices laid out, like being an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Consultant, Business Development Manager, Product Manager, etc, etc. The dilemma of choices makes it even more difficult. One should always take time to research all the aspects of a startup work that one wishes to explore further. I was fortunate to get calls from companies offering me roles in Product Management, and I am thankful for that.

A Product Manager is not the CEO of a Product per se. This myth needs to be debunked early on. A startup founder, even though if in a team of 5, has a direct authority to decide the roadmap. Unlike that, a Product Manager needs to justify each decision to the team as well as the superiors, through logic, data, and diplomacy. Product Managers need to learn about processes, unlike a founder who can deprioritize organization skills over rapid growth. One can learn about the interview patterns of the big tech companies through some already famous books like Decode and Conquer, Cracking the PM Interview, etc. Depending on the company, one may face questions like Guesstimates, Product Design, Analytics. Some of the responses need to be structured in a way which reflects upon multiple skills the interviewer could be gauging. And for a person who has worked for their own projects, some of the questions might seem familiar. Depending on the stage at which the startup ended, some questions might also seem intimidating, for example, analytics questions may not seem natural for a founder who worked in the initial stages of a B2B venture.

Irrespective of the company and domain, a founder can make an excellent PM if the unconventional experiences are put to conventional use-cases. Gaps can be filled in places like working in a large team, different types of teams like UX, QA (predominantly absent in an early stage startup), Upper Management, Customer Success, Sales and Marketing, all leading to the development of a well balanced professional.

This article was originally published at Medium