Sep 17, 2014

Notes from Product Camp Bangalore 2014

Couple of weeks back, I participated in a Product Camp event in Ebay-PayPal office premises in Bangalore. It was one of the well-planned and executed events. Product Camp is an unconference where the interested speakers volunteer for a topic they want to speak about and participants vote on such topics before the event. The schedule of the event is decided just before it starts, based on popular topics and speaker availability.

The event kicked off with two inspiring keynote speeches. Piyush Shah, VP of Products at InMobi talked about how the playing ground for mobile startups is the same irrespective of geography. Couple of interesting points he shared:

"You can build and launch an app in 100+ countries on the same day"
"Fast iterations, pilots and making mistakes crucial to learn in fast paced markets like mobile"
"Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details"

The second keynote was by Ravi Gururaj, Serial Entrepreneur and Chair - Product Council, NASSCOM. What a power-packed inspiring talk!

He emphasized the elements that are crucial to building a product startup. Key take-aways from his session:
"For product startups, it is a staircase to heaven".
"VUCA world. Volatility | Uncertainty | Complexity | Ambiguity. Grow up and deal with it"
"Launching is cheap. Competition is everywhere. Discovery is impossible. Loyalty is non-existent. Scaling is hard. Winning is disproportionate"
"Purpose drives plans. Pace trumps perfection"
"User experience design, data science and product management are the careers of future"

He also talked about the diminishing gap between dreaming and doing.

The two examples he shared on innovative design were just amazing. The Chinese bridge construction on top of a bullet rail track without disturbing the train schedule is a spectacular feat. Tesla model S cars redefined innovative design.

His Q&A session was equally enriching as well. If hiring people is a challenge, he asked startup founders to be more generous - not just in terms of equity but also in accepting new ideas and giving the space for startup employees to execute. And most importantly, he stressed on the fact that you don't ALWAYS need to be a founder to run a startup. You can also work for a startup. The role of a founder is to share a powerful vision with his/her employees, customers and investors.

After the keynote sessions, the breakout sessions began with 3 tracks in parallel. I attended the talk by Pandith Jantakahalli on jobs-to-be-done framework. He talked about the basics of why this framework is relevant and the classic milkshake example, followed by how to go about implementing this framework as part of product design.

In the afternoon, Ram Narayanan, General Manager of Ebay India spoke about the key elements to focus when building a two-sided marketplace. Trust, value and selection are the building blocks of a marketplace model. There needs to be a balance between quickly on-boarding new sellers and ensuring the marketplace is not polluted by spammers.

As part of the breakout session, I presented on a topic that I am extremely passionate about - "Influence of consumer motivations and behaviors on product usage". I hope it was useful to the audience and piqued their interest in human psychology and it's relevance in product conceptualization and design. Here are my slides:

It was a great experience, interacting with many product enthusiasts and sharing / listening on topics that are relevant to today's products ecosystem.

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