image of Succeeding as the First Product Hire in a Startup - Usama Khan, Stage TEN
Monday, August 8, 2022

Succeeding as the First Product Hire in a Startup - Usama Khan, Stage TEN

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Podcast information


Episode Details

Usama and Aram discuss what it’s like to be the first product person in a company. They chat about how to understand the founder’s vision, how to juggle the expectations of leadership, developers, and users, why product managers are misunderstood, and how product managers can get more people to agree with their decisions. Usama also explains why relying solely on data tells less than half the story.

Show notes

Being the first product person in a company is similar to being a detective. You have to expose, articulate, prioritize and map out the founder’s vision. Sometimes you’re met with skepticism and other times you’re misunderstood. Tune in for this PM’s story of being the first product person in his company.

About Usama Khan
Downloading the founder’s vision onto a product roadmap was Usama Khan’s job when he first started out at Stage 10 where he is Head of Product. He was the first product person there. Today, he leads a whole product team there. Usama has been working in the product space since 2013. He believes that one of the most valuable skills a product manager should hone is their ability to communicate and articulate the reasoning behind the decisions they make.

00:00 | Who is Usama Khan?
00:37 | Being the first product person joining a company
03:18 | Framework for uncovering the founder’s vision
09:22 | The hardest part of running a product department alone
13:39 | Building a product team from scratch
14:20 | Marginal improvements vs. shipping fast
18:58 | Differentiating your product from clones/copycats
25:50 | 3 expectations every product manager has to juggle
33:27 | Fireside questions (researching your questions, understanding user behavior, prioritization, why data metrics aren’t enough, why product managers are misunderstood)

[04:54] “When you have access to the founder you can try and understand, from his or her perspective, where they want to take the company, what’s the intention, and what their board thinks about it.”
[33:54] “If you’ve thoroughly researched what you want to know from your users and stakeholders, you usually get better answers.”

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What is Product Innovation Series with Aram Melkoumov?

Product Innovation Series is an in-depth interview series featuring product & innovation leaders from small startups all the way to Fortune 500 behemoths. Our guests share their battle-tested perspective on what prevents teams from shipping a great product. The show is hosted by Aram Melkoumov, the CEO of Crowdlinker.

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