Nov 15, 2013

Notes from Nasscom Product Conclave - Oct 2013

I participated in the Nasscom Product Conclave event from Oct 28th - 30th. It was my first professional networking event in the past 3 years. It was a good experience, interacting with industry experts and peers. Also, it was great to catch up with many of my ex-colleagues from Yahoo! and Cleartrip.

Though I was there on all 3 days, because of the distance, I couldn't spend as much time as I would have liked to. Here are the notes from some of the sessions I attended:

Day 1:

Growth Hacking workshop by Ravi Trivedi - one of the best sessions I attended. He was extremely clear and focused on the topic. I only wish we had more time. 1 hour was just not enough.

Growth hacks

- are short-lived

- Requires limited spend

- Focused towards rapid growth

Three ways:

- Inbound marketing - customers convert better

- Conversation marketing - make sure to check if the customer is ready

- Organic customer acquisition (organic search)

3 step marketing plan:

- Identify your target market

     - Get as niche as possible

     - 18-35 years old => too broad a definition

- Create your messaging

     - For your target audience

     - Create messaging based on what the customer care about

     - broad messaging => drop off rates are high

     - good benchmark for Bounce rate - < 40 to 50% of traffic

     - bounce rate impacts SEO

- Pick 3 marketing tactics

     - Criteria to use => Highest ROI and volume

     - Vanity metrics - don't track (good to have but not actionable)

     - 90% of Google analytics metrics are vanity metrics, especially if you are in SaaS

     - "If you want big improvement in results, be ready to make big changes"

- FB returns - measure by CPA, as the audience can be targeted extremely well

- Twitter acquisition costs - lower than Adwords or FB (case study - for a travel company)

- Running contests in twitter - very effective

- Share compelling content at relevant moments

- FB PPC - greedy algorithm, will exhaust the budget quickly

- App store optimization - Google+ +1s have an impact on search results on app searches in playstore

- Microconversion v/s Macroconversion

- LinkedIn groups => quite effective to reach B2B target audience

- Goal of Initial marketing spends - to figure out CPA and filter out noise. Spend in short bursts

- => research tool that has traffic data similar to Alexa. Can also do keyword research

- Look into getclicky, hittail

- In Adwords, do add sitelinks to increase CTRs

- Google has 97% of search market share in India

- 53% of clicks go to first rank in Google organic search results => focus on your SEO

    - Target long tail / mid tail keywords where competition is less

    - Use FAQs to target SEO keywords

Design workshop by Sunit Singh - Though I have worked with Sunit in Cleartrip, we haven't collaborated together on a product. Having seen the magnificent user experience in Cleartrip's mobile app recently, I definitely wanted to hear more from him.

He took us through two case studies to illustrate the basics behind good design -

redesigning a boarding pass and redesigning a credit card statement. It was an interesting and collaborative exercise with other participants, though it could have been a little shorter on time.

Some of the points I jotted down:

- Reduce the effort to find information

    - Who needs this info? (Passenger in the case of a boarding pass)

    - What is most important? (Requires gate number, flight number, boarding time and seat number in that order)

    - What is the context? (Passenger needs to know which gate he needs to board the flight from, needs to know the seat number once he is in the flight)

Once these 3 questions are clear, from a design standpoint, we need to link business objectives with user needs

    - What do you want the customer to do? (Could be a promotion or an ad displayed in the boarding pass)

Design process:

- Set design goals

- Group the information

- Start the design

Day 2:

Panel discussion on the art and science of building successful product teams

- Hire people for attitude, not skills

- Find out why they want to join your team, what is the overpowering reason?

- For outbound effort like talking to customers and investors, experience is important

- Very strong ICs can be strong team players

- A product manager has a good idea of who the customer is, lives and breathes customers, see how they solve their problems currently

- Consumer product - attention for 30 sec

- Product culture is extremely important

- Identify your dominant trait - new idea to conception, scaling the product, maintain the customer base

- Product person -

     - notices good products, competition, user experience.

     - Understands how customers use the product.

     - Tries to validate with proxy experiments.

     - Focuses on scaling and sustainability at a later stage.

- To scale, you have to delegate => have trust in your team => then let go of the ownership

- Communicate / network with transparency

- Should have strong points of view to conduct experiments and be accountable for results

Discussion on Start up product management - MVP and hypothesis testing

- Define hypothesis in less than 7 words

- Assumptions => Hypothesis => Data needed to prove the hypothesis => Minimum work needed to get that data (loved this point !)

- Social Q& A => Aardvark => used email to test the MVP

- What can you do without a line of code?

- Build => Measure => Learn => Listen

- MVP resistance by pilot customers

    - Remove friction

    - Champion the customer with 2 weeks of trial

Tips and tricks for building a successful mobile app by Rohit Singal

- Brainstorming phase

    - One line description of your app

    - Excitement (Others should contribute to your idea and not just say "It's good")

    - Impact

    - Name of app

    - team

- User experience and specs

    - Focus

    - Friction

    - First minute magic

    - Design guidelines (Follow Android / iOS7 design guidelines)

    - "Mobile apps should not come with a help menu"

    - Use unique features of the mobile OS

            - G+ login necessary for Google app reviews for featured list

            - Actions within notifications (Android specific feature)

    - Gamification

    - Invite hooks (Make the incentives contextual)

    - Social hooks

    - Notifications - meaningful, customized / personalized

- Development

    - User acquisition and analytics SDK - plan ahead. Look at Mixpanel, swerve, chartboost

    - "Listen more to your happy users"

    - In app rating form - when you should display, what should be the message?

    - In app user feedback form - very important. give a channel for users to vent their frustration

    - Pivots and iterations

    - MVP or 1.0? Apps are unforgiving

- Prelaunch marketing

    - User acquisition and building a community

    - Temporary and launch website

    - Twilio - sent SMS of app download link

    - App video

    - App store screenshots

    - App store description and app store title - very important

Mobile app showcase event:

We demoed our HealthifyMe Android app and it gave us a good opportunity to share what we do in the health and fitness space.

Day 3:

SaaS startups showcase event:

Among the many startups that demoed their app, the ones that caught my attention were bookpad (document management software) and DoCircults (online circuit simulation).

Small screen, big impact:

Three startup founders (awaaz, sound of silence and janacare) talked about how they are leveraging the power of a mobile phone to create social impact.

The afternoon sessions were more for the entertainment factor and not much of real value, especially the panel discussion on scaling your startup.

Traveling from South to North Bangalore, battling the traffic in Outer Ring Road was such a pain. Wish the next year's event is somewhere closer.

Nov 5, 2013

Nutrition for infants and toddlers - Part 1

At the beginning of the year, I set out a goal for myself to share with other moms on what I have learnt during the last 2 years, when it comes to feeding my little daughter. I'm neither a doctor nor a nutrition expert. So please use the tips shared below at your own discretion and consult with your pediatrician.

I plan to write this topic in a 3 part series. In the first part, the main focus will be on nutrition in the first 6 months after your baby is born. I can complete the post in a single phrase - "breastfeed exclusively for 6 months"

But to reiterate the importance and to share my experience, I think a few more lines is necessary. Even before my daughter was born, I made a commitment that I will breastfeed her and I was quite strong about it. Since I decided to take a break from work much earlier than delivery, it gave me time to read up and understand the benefits of breastfeeding. Towards the middle of the third trimester, I started to include oats, bottlegourd, fenugreek leaves (methi), spinach and masoor dhal regularly in my diet. These foods have helped me maintain a good supply of milk for my new born.

Once my daughter was born, the nurse at the hospital helped me to give the first feed within an hour after delivery. This early feed helps the baby to feel the mother's warmth and also learns to latch on quickly. The lactation consultant clarified a lot of questions around breastfeeding. The initial few days were extremely painful but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature to you as well as your baby.

After we brought our daughter home, for nearly a month, I couldn't sleep for 2 hours at a stretch. She would wake up for feeding many times in the night and I used to feel extremely exhausted due to lack of sleep. Though elders in the family suggested that I should start bottle feed, I resisted that temptation. Once the baby gets used to the bottle, I learnt that it becomes very difficult for the mom to nurse the baby. Thankfully, my supply was also good enough to exclusively breastfeed my daughter, without the need for bottle feed.

Regarding my diet, my doctors advised me to take normal foods that I would eat anyday, with no excess ghee, no hard lentils (channa, rajma) or vegetables (cauliflower, potato) that can cause bloating. I also used to take a tsp of roasted ajwain seeds after lunch and dinner. That was quite helpful to prevent my baby become colicky.

When my daughter was around 4 months, there was pressure from elders in the family to start introducing other foods. Though I resisted for a month, I eventually succumbed and started other foods when she completed 5 months. Wish I was more strong and continued exclusive breastfeeding for 1 more month !

To other moms, please bear in mind that there's certainly no hurry. Your child has his/her whole life to eat solid foods. So there is no need to rush into introducing other foods. Wait for the completion of 6 months, be strong and do not give in to pressure from others.

If you need to get back to work after 3 months, you can still use a breast pump. Talk to your doctor / lactation consultant and understand how you can continue to nurse your baby. Keep formula milk as the last resort.

Breastfeeding also helped me to reduce my pregnancy weight easily. As for my daughter, she didn't fall sick many times (touchwood!) and she has been an active and happy child. Until she was 22 months old, I continued to breastfeed her, along with regular foods.

To summarize, start preparing your mind and body for breastfeeding your baby even before delivery. It's the best gift you can give him/her. Be strong, believe you can do it and most importantly, do not take stress. The post partum period will have an upheaval of emotions. Keep yourself calm without any stress or tension. Get your husband to support your decision to breastfeed your baby.

In the second part, I will talk about the next exciting and challenging phase - introduction of solids.

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