The Accident of Friendship

I’ll tell you something….these Jacques Derrida ideas sound very hollow to me..

I’m not critiquing you, rather the general superficial environment. My mind is full of radical departures from this naive babble..in my mind we’re in a fight to finish civilizational war and these derrida memes are used to just hijack the remaining brains of a great civilization away from their traditional thought processes.
these hijacked ghazal lovers then get busy to strike the final dagger into their own people..
peacetime art has zero appeal to me in times of war
peace time artist is no more to me than street theater begger….
you & many others with potential are just becoming fluff of history by mimicking when you can be great heroes in your native thought proceses
Die Doing Something was the poetic chant of our great fathers as they set out from central asia to spread themselves and their ideas….Buddha and some of his ‘shunyawadi’ ideas just made these lion hearted heroes into sleeping cats
I’m sorry if I come across carping sometimes, but I want you to know i’ve molten fury in me and the moderate has no appeal.
I don’t associate with ‘artists’ because I find them fartists.. but you I’ve to bear by accident of friendship.

When a product is so superior – Travis Law

Many startups pay lip service, false passion, startup fashion, startup culture and a lot of other trash. They sooner or later fail. A true technology led re-imagination of a market HAS to follow The Travis Law.

OUR PRODUCT IS SO SUPERIOR TO THE STATUS QUO THAT IF WE GIVE PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE IT OR TRY IT, IN ANY PLACE IN THE WORLD WHERE GOVERNMENT HAS TO BE AT LEAST SOMEWHAT RESPONSIVE TO THE PEOPLE, THEY WILL DEMAND IT AND DEFEND ITS RIGHT TO EXIST.

App of Dreams – But Why Won’t They Come?

Have you seen a salesman who has to unsell? That’s a thing I end up doing most often in my new job.

I run a product design company and work to create very few products in a year. My clients tend to have corporate backgrounds (not IIT freshers). They’ve usually quit their jobs and want to build a digital lead business around a genuine insight. I’m happy to meet them till here.

It’s the elementary problem they’ve not considered. How will you drag the user on the app/website?

A lot of argument goes for them to unlearn the corporatese and realise that digitally onboarding a customer is a series of well linked hypothesis about the user and his psychology. Each hypothesis has a corresponding feature in the product and a corresponding marketing hook to get him inside the app. And all these finally hook the user to the app’s core value proposition. Each of these hypothesis further requires certain minimums in place, untill one final smallest logical unit of offering that needs to get out of the door is defined. Now the budgets are no longer ‘just for an app’. And not just budgets, the human energy, commitment and odds are now at another level. This is when the smart one’s will backoff. The ‘impossible is nothing’ crowd gambles on.

I’m happy to say in 2016, I convinced 3 people to not start a startup. That’s a lot of future unhappiness for a lot of people. Believe me, I know.

Prodio Goes FastLane

Every product development needs to be kept on track for effortless delivery of functional value to clients in every defined time frame. For Prodio that time frame is a week. Every week we must move a product forward through a pre-defined set of functional features.

Since, testing if your team delivered functional features cannot be left for last day, we have daily handouts to each team members. These items are delivered by the team in their respective Gerritt branches everyday evening and code merged. This merged code has to be made available to Product Team to test on the subsequent day. This establishes a rapid feedback loop to the programmer.

This would mean everyday programmers need to waste time in creating and sharing APKs. This would also mean product team hassling programmers for APKs for next days testing. We decided to simplify this where programmer’s job ends at his Gerrit commit. The Scrum Master will merge code onto testing if it is worthy of testing and FastLane will deliver the APK onto closed alpha testing group on which client is also present apart from product team.

Now Product team get their testing APKs everyday evening. Nobody waits for anybody.

There’s work and it can not be lessened. What can surely be reduced is the uncertainty and waiting around by defining clear actionables to the team connected through a set of well chosen tools. They act as bots taking one team member’s delivery and passing to other, automating mundane tasks. Cutting the crap, in short.

Platform As Product Strategy To Generate Outsized Economic Surplus

The digital armageddon disrupting the real world comes as ‘Platforms’. Platform for this, platform for that. OLX, Housing.com, TripAdvisor, whatever. And platforms come with a power to disrupt existing businesses.

What is the source of this power. Not just match making.

The power is the way they empower the end user. If they just acted as match makers, the only economic value is reduced transaction value. Instead the really good platforms provide multi-dimensional surplus, which means more value to sell for an OK amount. That offers so must to the users for so little that sticking forever is guaranteed.

We’re developing a platform for Location Managers & Film production houses to come together. The three choices we had were

  • Build all locations data and become subscription product

    Bring all location managers & production houses together and become transactional market place

    Add value added tools for both location managers and production houses to provide a surplus value that ensure transaction stickiness

By creating Location Manager portfolios and allowing them to bid on new shooting schedules coming up, we ensured their ambit of opportunities expanded drastically. The production houses, on the other hand running on tight budgets and tighter schedules, can now have a certainty about their shooting locations. Too much economic surplus through the value added tools to both parties. That’s user’s creating value for other users -essence of network effect.

And a core value addition is the identification of the risk that platform can absorb better than it’s user – by bringing all location managers on the platform we ensured they are on an industry standard, and because they’re on industry standard we expect zero defaults from them for the pure reputational risk and the risk of getting banned from a business generating platform. In turn, we use this leverage to get better & uniform terms for the production houses and thus provide them stability and predibictibility. Against this predictibility, the production houses must pay upfront to ensure quicker cash flow cycles for the LMs. All sides win.

A platform investment model is therefore different from the efficiency model. Not to have all players but to make them interact in ways where the net surplus benefits all. That’s the true platform strategy executed through a good product.

 

Vendor Hat vs Product Manager Hat

My business often requires me to think on behalf of my clients. The germ of idea they’ve come up with, is often just that. A germ. It needs growing into an organism that will work, compete, grow and win. And there’s always capital constraint to build the ProductV1.0 of the idea. How do you define the right V1.0.

Many times you’re able to see a V1.0 that’s far larger than what the client thinks would suffice. If you accept client’s version, what sort of product designer are you – cause you’re not really thinking.

And, V1.0 is always in absence of proof from the market. It’s an hypothesis. If the client team is good enough to execute it correctly, then more information on product market fit will emerge during business operations. That will go into redefining the product. And that’s Product V2.0. Prodio has to continue to wear the product manager hat and track the product-market fit data and define ProductV2.0 on client’s behalf and execute this.

The vendor hat, on the contrary is quite limiting. Even if I believe your idea of V1.0 is grossly shallow and won’t take off, its none of my business. You loose your shirt, I gain some and the idea is forgotten. Almost every client we have has come to us after being hit by a vendor hat.

 

Marketplace Model vs Inventory Based Model

After a totally disastrous vacation, felt great returning to Mumbai. Sitting on my favorite wooden table, sweating off malarial fever, I’d a small discussion with a client. I thought it needed a note.

What should we build – an online market place for rented assets in a particular category or a platform to aggregate inventory and offer to customers?

Shallow analysis calls eComm portals as market models but I say it’s a closed integrated system customer is falling for. When buying –

  1. Customer needs price, product, substitute comparisons
  2. Transaction assurances – counter party guarantees, delivery time, returns, refunds etc

And the heart of buying is 2nd point- hence world got over eBay.

So, before a loose call to go for ‘asset light market model’ is taken, it’s important to understand what is at the heart of the problem you are solving. Most often it requires building integrated closed loop system to deliver that value – not just provide handshake with counter party. That time is gone.

Money Won’t Solve The Problem, Maths Will

All of us have heard of the Indian Foodtech meltdown & juicy stories of startup founder sieged by employees. And it’s some what fashionable to kick the investor’s teeth for being so stupid to throw all the money.

But trying to solve the same issue for a client who’s into deliveries on electric bikes, I formulated the problem somewhat differently.

What is the product that allows me to work with a team of ONE.

And, I think it’s this boundary condition for which product has to designed; at least in the imaginary story board.

If internet business are about creating new business categories where none existed earlier, and none existed because none was possible with that times technology or market, then why is the delivery problem still being solved with more people, capacity overhang, and traditional way of doing business where technology is just seen as enabler.

I believe when enough math is thrown at it, it’s possible to create a delivery business platform with dynamic routing algorithms & alignment of incentives where the ‘corporate’ team will be a team of 5. ceo, hr, ops, marketing & office boy.

And unless the delivery players operate on this razor’s edge, there’s no business to be created in delivery. We’re out to prove this with one of our client. We’ll share the results in time to come.

Extreme Programming & Product Design

I’ve never been involved with projects that are not short of something. Time, money, patience, wisdom something.. or everything, is always short.

The the thing that’s always short is – plan.

And designing products while business is being rolled out is the most significant challenge I’ve faced. Product design requires thoughfulness, business rollout requires relentless execution. And, over a period I’ve come to acquire a few ideas in product design from extreme programming.

XP attempts to reduce the cost of changes in requirements by having multiple short development cycles, rather than a long one. In this doctrine, changes are a natural, inescapable and desirable aspect of software-development projects, and should be planned for, instead of attempting to define a stable set of requirements.

Same principle applies creates Extreme Product Design. End goals are fixed, but you’ve to reach there while meeting the market. A good product designs gives up more than it takes, but giving up while taking on clutter during business execution requires a methodical focus and product planning processes in place.

Flow Of Work

So, an org is working. In their silos — whether emails, cabins, phone extensions, buildings or continents.

But where is the org. It’s in its flow of work. As it happens. And for most layers, there’s no way to see the flow of work.

There is just abstraction of work through statistics that get reported in MIS. A lot lost in translation.

So what we do is insert a simplest layer on top with which the org emails & phones plug. Now whole org is on this layer, but everyone can see everyone, to the extent they want to be seen or shown.

And the fact of visibility creates responsibility.