At the inception of every startup is a team of founders and a vision. That vision involves a product – something you create and then sell to customers.
As the business grows, the founding team and their responsibilities grow along with it. A sales and marketing team is added, and the race intensifies – the race to get to market, to raise funds, to innovate first and to stay ahead of the game. Often, this is when the founders’ energy and attention toward the product gets divided.
This, here, is when you will benefit from getting a product manager.
What does a product manager do?
At the beginning of any startup, it is typically the CEO that’s fully hands-on with the product, from vision to execution. Now imagine handing over the execution part to somebody else.
That somebody else would be your product manager. A product manager, or PM, is responsible for a product’s entire life cycle, unpacking the founders’ or CEO’s vision, executing it, and getting it to market.
It is the PM that liaises with the engineering or development team to work out what must be built or improved in the product; it is also the PM that aligns these features with design.
As well, the PM works with the sales and marketing teams to ensure they understand the product’s unique features that need to be communicated to customers.
Externally, the PM also stays closely in tune with users, empathising with their needs and pain points. It is equally important, then, that the PM has their pulse on both the product’s functions and the market’s evolving needs, to be able to understand trends as well as to foresee them.
The PM then brings back valuable insights to the team, and once again works with all members involved – engineering, design, research and development, sales and marketing – on the next iteration of the product.
A product manager, however, is not directly involved in each of the aforementioned departments – they’re not responsible for coding software, for example, or gathering user and market data, or even selling the product per se – although skills in these areas are no doubt valuable.
Instead, the PM strives to ensure that everyone working in these areas are working together efficiently and effectively to produce desired results. It is the PM’s responsibility to get all working parts to move in this direction and deliver the promised product – and more – to customers.
Benefitting from your product manager
A product manager’s role depends on factors that include the business nature of a startup, the stage of the startup, as well as culture.
An early-stage startup, for example, will benefit from a product manager that’s also responsible for pricing and marketing, or even sales and shipping. In a mature company, on the other hand, a product manager may have the more clearly-defined role of managing the moving parts of a product’s execution.
A PM can also be as involved in the product as to work closely with the startup’s founders. Or, in the case of a company with multiple products, the PM can take more ownership over the product (or products) they are managing, entrusted by the CEOs to deliver.
If you’re in an early stage startup or you’re about to launch one, the role of the product manager is one worth considering as early as now. Will it be one of the founding members eventually, or will this be a role you’ll hire for in the future?
Because once your startup is firing on all cylinders and you’re doing your best to serve your market while making preparations for the next round of fund-raising, you’ll want to make sure you don’t neglect the very thing your company’s promise and future are hinged upon: your product offering.
You’ll want to be sure you have a product manager taking care of that for you.
About White Knight Group
White Knight Group is a revolutionary investor dedicated to partnering with startups and helping them succeed. Get in touch with the White Knight Group at whiteknight.asia.