Building the Right Product versus Building the Product Right

In my 7 years in the industry, I have seen that the relationship between the product and engineering teams can make or break the product, and the whole business around it. Product management is about building the ‘right‘ product while Engineering is all about building the product ‘right‘. However, in a business both are equally important and myopic views about any one of them will end up hurting the business in the long term. This hold more true for startups and internet based companies than for established and growth companies where the ‘right‘ product is already identified.

Part of the Same Team

Product management and Engineering need to work together as they are part of the same team, while having very different roles. It is critical that the two see themselves as peers, and on the same side of the table. In most companies these two teams sit far away from each other, limiting interaction, which is critical especially in the beginning stages of any product. It is important to understand that out of PM and Engineering, none is subordinate to another, and steps must be taken to introduce a cohesive working environment between the two to enable better understanding and co-operation.

Make Engineers Understand the Customer

Most of the times engineers are unaware of why they are building what they are building. Their focus is on getting the requirement spec from product management, and then working on implementing that. But without an intricate knowledge of why they are building that product, and for whom, they can never get a complete understanding of their place in the whole company and fully contribute to it. In my view, making each and every developer in the engineering team aware of why they are doing what they are doing is critical to discovering problems in time and preventing frustration and despair later on.

Is this the story in your company?

Is this the story in your company?

Encourage Engineers to Come Up with Ideas

Your engineers are the ones who are the closest to the product, and they know the technology best. They have the best idea of what can be done and what not, and the relative complexities of implementing any two different solutions. Involving them in idea generation and encouraging them to come up with ideas can prove vital in reducing the PM-Engineering mail clutter to come up with better solutions sooner. At the same time, it also gives engineering a sense of ownership about what they are going to implement.

Product Manager should focus on Minimal Product, then regular Increments

It is often considered fancy to come up with a product plan which will take 2-3 months for engineering to build. The product team think they have done a great job detailing every feature and detail in the spec, while the engineering team devotes their best resources to doing it right. But after the product ships (or sometimes even before), the product team (together with sales and marketing) gets valuable feedback from the customer and wants to drop some features, change a few, and add a couple of new ones. This becomes the Product Spec v2. All the while engineering has no idea why their efforts of the last 3 months have gone down the drain, which leads to frustration and reduced productivity. And the cycle continues.

Another way to approach this situation could be to come up with a minimal set of features to build in the first version of the product. It is critical that both PM and Engineering sit together and decide this based on each other’s inputs. If the two work cohesively together on a minimal product, and then add small increments as customer inputs start coming in, the kind of productivity that can be generated could be awesome for both teams, and for the company as a whole.

Why CricketRadius? The problem and the market

As you know, I launched CricketRadius.com on April 2nd. It is my second stint at entrepreneurship after SaleRaja earlier. In this article I will try to answer what idea I had so as to convince me to leave Yahoo and jump full time into this. Being very frank, I got the idea (and it is still refining) after leaving Yahoo. I had a very basic vision of doing something to connect fans when I left Yahoo, but the idea of a social network and what all features it will have have only come in the last three months. See below paragraphs to know more about the problem, the market and the solution.

The Problem
As a cricket fan, right now there are websites where you can check scores, read articles and stories written by former players and experts. Cricinfo, CricBuzz, CricketNext, Yahoo Cricket are some of the popular names. There are also a lot of fan blogs where bloggers share their views about the game. But there is no platform which gives you a cricket profile, where you can express your love for your favorite teams, players, stadiums and matches. There is no platform where all the fans can come together and share the experience which comes when our team wins, or our favourite player gets a century or a hat-trick. We watch cricket and enjoy it with our friends and family, and that is where the real love and joy for the game comes out.

We can obviously share about cricket on social networks like facebook and twitter. But it is annoying when you share about your favorite team on social networks, and every other non-cricket update gets in the way? Like someone‚Äôs birthday wishes, or what dish has one cooked, or some funny pic about a guy getting hit by a car. Wouldn’t it be great if you could talk just about Cricket?

CricketRadius - Because Fans Deserve Better

CricketRadius - Because Fans Deserve Better

The Product?
CricketRadius is a social network for cricket fans by cricket fans. Interact with others who have cricket in their blood, and discuss about your favorite players, teams and ongoing matches. Check in to the players and teams you are watching, score runs and let the world know your cricket acumen. Also, score runs and get rewarded on the way.

The Market
Currently there are more than 100 million Indian internet users, of which 45 million are on facebook. There is no need to quantify in numbers the popularity of cricket and how many of these users visit various cricket websites or share about cricket on facebook and twitter. This number is expected to rise to 300 million by 2014, according to Google India. A large young population (more than 50% of Indians will be under 30 by 2015) with better incomes and a growing economy are all reasons for this impending growth.

Online advertising in India is only worth $200 million, of which $100 million is of Google alone. Online ads and engagement models have yet to catch on in India, considering the global online ad market is $ 80 billion while global revenue for Google is $29 billion. This despite the fact that India is the third largest internet populace, only behind US and China. Some more figures can be found at http://thenextweb.com/in/2011/09/16/internet-users-to-triple-in-india-by-2014-google/

This presents to me a huge gap and a product missing for an ardent cricket fan like me. Cricket is something about which I am really passionate about, and it has been a dream come true creating a product which more than anyone else, I want to use and share with my cricket lover friends.