4 Entrepreneurship Lessons I Learned as a Product Manager

Context on My Story

The header of ShopHop’s 1-pager that made it to the inboxes of at least 200 angel investors in India..
CIRCA 2017 — The header of my startup’s 1 pager that made it to the inbox of at least 200 investors in India..
Pitching ShopHop as an ‘Alpha Startup’ at RISE Hong Kong with my founding team (seated from left — Amer, Dhruv and me).

1- Pick Your Candy! ‘Focus & Prioritize’

This emphasis on ‘focus’ however is the most important advice I would give to myself as a founder. As founders, we often have a grand vision for what our startup can eventually be. What is significantly more difficult, is breaking that vision down into the first indivisible piece. Bezos started with books on the long and arduous journey to making Amazon the ‘everything store’. That initial focus, however, allows you to build and dominate a niche, build the foundations for scale, and most importantly — allow consumers to easily identify your brand.

2- Perfection is the Antithesis of Growth

During my Masters at Cornell Tech I had the privilege of learning from an illustrious set of practitioners in the tech industry. One of these was Greg Pass who was the first CTO of Twitter. Professor Pass believed the number 1 reason startups fail is ‘premature scaling’. This really stuck with me in part because as product managers we have to be cognizant of this on a daily basis and also because it resonates with my time building ShopHop.

3- Management is Hard

We were young, hungry, and driven. But we were not well managed. Great management can build discipline, inspire learning, build self-accountability, and drive outcomes at a regular cadence. This was hard for me to provide as a 23 year old manager, and unfortunately — exactly what my startup needed.

4- Customer over Technology. The Little Fixes Go A Long Way

In my early days as a Product Manager — I yearned to build the next ‘big feature’ that would leverage machine learning, personalization, and inspire awe simply with the complexity it entailed. It felt like the ‘sexy part’ of the job and I wanted to take up more of it.

Conclusions

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Columbia’14, Cornell Tech’ 19. Group Product Manager at Walmart+. I like football, marketplaces/subscription-commerce, geo-politics and philosophy.

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Anirban Poddar

Anirban Poddar

Columbia’14, Cornell Tech’ 19. Group Product Manager at Walmart+. I like football, marketplaces/subscription-commerce, geo-politics and philosophy.

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