Infosys launches Springboard program to accelerate digital reskilling

  • Information technology services major Infosys has announced the launch of Springboard, a digital skilling program for India.
  • A part of Infosys’ environment, social, and governance goal, Springboard brings a curriculum-rich virtual platform that delivers corporate-grade learning experiences to students from Class 6 to working professionals.
  • While the Springboard platform is powered by Infosys’ Wingspan ed-tech solution, the courses on it have been developed in collaboration with digital education industry leaders such as Coursera and Learnship.


ESDS Software Solution files draft papers to raise funds via IPO

  • ESDS Software Solution files draft papers to raise funds via IPO Premium.
  • MUMBAI: ESDS Software Solution Ltd, a Nashik-based cloud services and data centre, has filed draft papers with the Securities Exchange Board of India to raise funds through an initial public offering.
  • ESDS Software Solution is among India’s leading managed cloud service and end-to-end multi-cloud requirements provider.


Freshworks appoints book managers for $100 mn US-IPO

  • Indian Software-as-a-Service unicorn, Freshworks Inc. has filed for an initial public offering worth $100 million with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Freshworks joins the growing list of Indian unicorns which are making a beeline towards public markets.
  • Freshworks has raised more than $327 million in funding till date from the likes of Accel, CapitalG, Sequoia India, and Tiger Global Management.


MapmyIndia looks to raise Rs 1,200-1,300 crore via IPO

  • Digital mapping product company Mapmyindia is looking to raise Rs 1,200-1,300 crore through an initial public offering.
  • According to news reports, the company posted a net profit of Rs 24 crore on revenue from operations of Rs 149 crore in the year ended March 31, 2020.
  • Data provided by Tracxn show the company’s revenue for fiscal 2019 at Rs 162 crore against Rs 161 crore the previous year.


Infosys Public Services to digitise Manitoba Public Insurance ops

  • US-based Infosys subsidiary Infosys Public Services on Thursday said it will digitally transform Manitoba Public Insurance, a Crown corporation that provides auto insurance and driver services.
  • Infosys Public Services CEO Eric Paternoster said that the company, along-with Celtic, had previously helped 19 jurisdictions across North America modernize and digitise various vehicle and driver licensing processes.
  • Founded in 2009, Infosys Public Services helps public sector organisations navigate their digital transformation, helping them renew existing systems into modern, agile, intelligent platforms.


Google dominance in smart TV space at  risk from  WebOS

  • Google may soon have more competition in India’s smart TV market, with brands, including Intex, planning to launch televisions running on LG’s webOS platform.
  • Currently, India’s smart TV market is dominated by televisions running on AndroidTV, but LG started licensing its webOS platform earlier this year.
  • The Competition Commission of India had ordered a probe into allegations that Google is abusing its market dominance in India.


Buffett-backed Nubank to seek IPO valuation of over $55 bln

  • BANGALORE/SAO PAULO, Aug 25 – Brazil’s Nubank is seeking a valuation in its planned U.S. initial public offering that would push the eight-year-old fintech past the $55.4 billion value of the country’s top traditional lender, two sources familiar with the matter said.
  • One source said that in recent weeks Nubank’s bankers have pitched a valuation of as much as $100 billion.
  • Nubank declined to comment on the expected valuation.


Droom converts Indian entity to public limited company

  • Online automobile marketplace Droom, which recently announced its $200 million pre-IPO round, has converted itself from a private limited company to a public limited company.
  • According to the company’s regulatory filings, it has converted the name of its Indian entity from Droom Technology Private Limited to Droom Technology Limited.
  • Significantly, Droom Technology has received all of the funds from its Singapore based parent Droom Pte, which controls 100% stake in the aforementioned Indian entity.


Subtle Process of Customer Acquisition

What takes a business to grow? Online presence? More sales? Or more profit? Anyway, it all comes down to one factor ― more customers!

By definition, customer acquisition is the process of acquiring new customers or converting potential leads into new customers ― in a way that is measurable, achievable and repeatable. Every business needs customers ― your idea could be utterly awesome, but if it doesn’t serve anyone, it’s practically vague!

Thus, comes customer acquisition. For an organization, be it a small-scale or a vast one, customer acquisition is essential and a significant time-consuming task. A multinational organization might have a dedicated team to handle this process; however, a company with a small team might not be at leverage to spend time. Most of the time, a gap is seen between acquisition and meeting the customers’ needs. 

Let’s talk about how one can fill that gap ― with different methods and correct strategies.

Channels for acquiring new customers

Traditionally, customers were brought in using personal selling and marketing. However, a study shows that more than 50% of people agree that a close relationship is necessary to trust a brand. It brings revenue. Yet, the advancement of digital marketing and e-commerce has a massive impact on this model. Starting from an individual to an MNC, reputation and customer feedback is a must. In fact, authors Gabriel and Justin have suggested that any company must divide their time equally between customer acquisition and product development.

These are some of the popular methods and ‘easy to adapt’ channels that can help you in acquiring new customers.

Viral Marketing

A widely popular technique is viral marketing, where your existing customers and users bring more people. This strategy requires the least amount of time with a minimal investment.

  • Word of Mouth – when a customer uses a product, they tell their friends about it. However, the company has no control over this, and sometimes it might have an adverse reaction.
  • Virality due to usage – when you use a product, your friends start using it too. A classic example is when Facebook was inducted in 2004, only a few people joined. Gradually, people got addicted, and another social media platform, Orkut, gradually became obsolete.
  • Communication and features – some applications like Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams are preferred in organizations. Looking at their benefits, a user may start using them personally.
  • Rewards and incentive programs – applications like CRED, Google Pay, American Express, have expanded their business hugely by providing referral rewards. After all, who doesn’t like freebies!

This process of marketing has seen much positive feedback; however, it has no control over customers. People might switch to another product, and you may not be in leverage as to know why. Also, many times comments and social media impacts can hugely overturn the business. For example, when WhatsApp introduced its new policies, a lot many people rethought and switched to Signal, making it one of the highest-grossing apps in the play store overnight.

That’s where ORM, aka Oral Reputation Management, and PR, aka Public Relations, comes in!

Public Relation

It is basically reaching out to your customer via newspapers, media, and blogs. When you reach a newspaper or a magazine, you use the monetary resource to let the mass know. Blogs are also a choice, but it needs time. Most of the time, positive feedback is circulated; however, you might have to use significant time and money to meet your customer expectations – since reaching out to the masses does not automatically guarantee that all the people will start using your product.

Social media platforms, like YouTube, are heavily used today for unconventional methods. Brands take support from celebrities and popular individuals to get their business/ product reviewed. That’s where the term Influencer Marketing comes into play!

For example, YouTube channels like The Linus Tech Tips, Technical Guruji, etc., are viral channels where they review gadgets like smartphones. Based on the channels’ fan-following, you get customers without spending much time.

Search Engine and Social Media Advertisements

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are well known and widely used. All of them provide an advertisement option where you pay to show your product at the top of the search page. Similarly, social media like YouTube, Facebook also have premium services where your products are displayed in-between videos or in the banner to the masses. Social media advertisement has seen a market growth of more than 40% in the last few years (Hoelzel 2004); obviously, the business has gained!

This has also given a boost to the Performance Marketing career. Brands pay huge amounts to experts just to maintain their ROAS!

Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

There was a time when Search Engine Optimization had outcasted everything ― and it still does, however, content rules!

And as I’m writing this, there will be another viral content ― in the form of photos, video or blog ― making users gaga.

Offline Advertisements

Hoardings, banners are not dead! They are pretty much used widely and are an efficient way of bringing customers if appropriately used. Again it’s all about what kind of content you are putting on it ― great content attracts customers and grabs attention! 

Business Development and Sales

For serial entrepreneurs, nothing beats if you have a proven record! If your previous product were widely accepted, likely your new product will be too. Similarly, if your product has a good reputation in sales, it will generate qualified and close leads.

For businesses who are new in this space, if you try this channel, bear in mind that you should still be on the lookout for areas of your pipeline that are slowing down the sales process. Are there any inefficiencies or items that prospective buyers might get hung up on that you can smooth out and make the purchase decision as simple as possible? The fact that you are contacting people explicitly does not preclude you from maximizing your pipeline as well.

The bottom line

Given all the above points and channels of customer acquisition – now is the crucial time to decide which is the best one and choose your medium. The below points should clarify some doubts.

  • If your product is similar to some other service in the market – use the same channel to let people know. Your competitor should have done their study, and you should minimize research and work. Precisely, understand where your competitor lacks and use it to your advantage.
  • Budget is crucial; some channels cost you more! Goals are the third most priority. Do you gain by reaching out to mass? Can you handle your product if your customer increases exponentially?
  • A strategy is to choose three channels and study their reach, effect, and customer growth. 

What did work for your business? Share your learning with us, and we’ll be happy to share it with the masses!!

Product Management | Entrepreneurship | Growth & Marketing

“Empathy is being concerned about the human being and not just their output” : Simon Sinek on understanding Empathy

Simon Sinek, author and well known motivational speaker, talks about the importance of empathy and how to understand and practice it as leaders. He goes over the traditional meaning of empathy and how it is presented versus how true leadership demands it to be practiced.

Talking points:

Empathy and perspective are two of the most important things a leader should have.

Leadership is a skill that can be learnt. It is learnable and practiceable.

The daily practice of putting the well-being of others first has a compounding and reciprocal effect in relationships.

Empathy is being concerned about the human being and not just his/her output.

Netflix Product Designer reveals the ‘scientific method’ behind their design process

Netflix is designed to keep you glued to it for as long as possible – and, as you will learn in this video, the process behind the design is scientific to a great degree. Netflix Product Designer Navin Iyengar provides a fascinating peek into the ‘scientific’ methods implemented behind the scenes by designers like himself to ensure that design choices make actual sense, and are not simply arbitrary.

Talking points:

Start with a hypothesis, work it into A/B testing, collect data and evaluate results.

Behind a hypothesis is ethnography, surveys, focus groups & usability and trends in data.

Observe what people do, not what they say.

Four growth marketing principles to help you create your unicorn

Larry Kim, founder of WordStream, which grew from a small startup into the world’s largest PPC marketing software company managing over a billion dollars of ad spend with millions of users.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing though. The company had its fair share of challenges, and in this talk at WebSummit, Larry covers those and distills the 4 greatest growth marketing principles that can help turn any startup into a baby unicorn.

Watch a Stanford professor explain how to develop a ‘growth mindset’

Stanford Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck explains how to go about developing a growth mindset as opposed to a ‘fixed mindset’.

Her work on developing mindsets is groundbreaking and she places an emphasis on the power of ‘yet’ in helping students break shackles.

As a leading expert in the field of motivation, her book ‘Mindset’ is a bestseller. Watch her break down the process and mindset required for true inner growth.

“Be careful if you show up to your board meeting as a Growth gentleman” : AMA with Indus Khaitan, Chief of Growth @ Chargebee

Indus Khaitan, Chief of Growth at Chargebee joined us for a lively AMA on the ProductGeeks Community (Slack Channel) on growth, product and much more. Here is a quick summary of what went down:

Q1. Would be great if you could introduce yourself – and your life experience so far.

A: 30 second bio: Born in Dhanbad, not far away from where the whole Gangs of Wasseypur screenplay happened. Computer Scientist by profession. Did a few startups, and a seed fund.

Q2. You have mostly been doing B2B startups – what has changed since your first one?

A: Yeah, mostly B2B. First startup was packaging and selling social media data to very large media companies. The most recent one packaged fear of one’s corporate data getting compromised and sold a mobile security stack to super large Fortune 500 companies.

Q2.1 Do you see a notable difference in sales cycle? Distribution options?

I would say B2B startups are easy (well, I don’t know any better of B2C 🙂 ) — I think B2C startups are a coin toss. B2B starts at a tangible problem.

Q2.2 However, B2B is mostly sales driven. How do you think geeky/engineering driven founders handle this (esp in the early stages)?

A: I don’t think it is “purely” sales driven. Just like B2C is not just acquisition driven, Sales is a fulfillment function, you need a solid product & marketing engine to drive awareness.

Q3. How should founders instill a growth culture at their companies?

Growth is nobody’s problem so difficult to get a “mindset” going. eg. Sales is focused on this quarter’s $ quota, marketing is focused on enabling sales to meet the quarter’s quota. Product is thinking 1-2 years. Hence, no one’s thinking things beyond the quarter and <12 months.

Easy way to kick start – say a single person growth “Team” – is to find a problem that would fix or give a boost to something. For example, you could think about a retention problem in your company and say add 1-2% retention (or less churn).

Q4. Whom should growth team report to? Product? Marketing? CEO?

A: It depends. If the CEO is numbers oriented, then never to the CEO as you would not be able to prove a thing in a quarter. At the same time if the CEO is not convinced then the growth team would be never become mainstream. Look at the startups as an example. You can tell by looking at the CEO whether he would hire a Growth person. 🙂

It is tricky when the growth function shows up at board meetings. For a board, growth is $ growth, everything else is snake oil. So be careful if you show up to your board meeting as a Growth gentleman.

Q5. Chargebee’s SAAS dispatch is great. Tell us a little about how that came about and what kind of dividends has content marketing initiatives paid Chargebee?

It started with a goal of demystifying the nuances of Payment Gateways. How should one choose? What’s the matrix of volume, payment method, country, currency, payout time lag, compliance, etc. This is NxN matrix where you could give plenty of content love to your audience.

Without giving real numbers I’d say a BIG, I mean bigly BIG portion of our opportunity funnel is inbound from our content engine. There’s a team of around six people who just do this and of course supported by extended product and marketing teams.

Q6. How do you define growth? Given that none of your stints are/were market leaders, what is the key element missing in your piece?

A: Growth is your impact on particular metric: Acquisition, Activation, Retention etc.

Q6.1 You mention on your LinkedIn profile “Growth is not a hack, but an orchestrated effort across Marketing, Product, and Partnerships”. What does ‘orchestrated’ mean here?

Orchestrated means: you gotta work with product, marketing, sales, customer success. You don’t have these individuals reporting to you. For example, if you are announcing an integration (part of growth strategy), you gotta work with product to build the pieces and marketing to do webinars, blogs, social media, events, etc.

Q6.2 A lot of companies and we as well get stuck at multiple points in growth or probably growing multi-fold primarily in customer acquisition. How do you accelerate customer acquisition?

A: Depends on your business. No straight answer. For example, if you are B2B, and your segment is large enterprise (Fortune 5000), then you gotta do analyst relations, finding partners, spending money on events. Versus, if you are B2B selling to SMB then you’d launch on Product Hunt.

What you call “acceleration”, I may call fundamental. The above examples are given.

Q7. We have heard and thought a lot about “product driven growth”. Still grasping with understanding what is it exactly? I am not talking about just retention, but also gaining new users. A referral program? User delights that increases word of mouth? Strategically inserting social share at different points in the journey? How to strategically trigger this?

A: Product driven growth if the product has virality built in. For example, Chargebee is sold to VP Finance. There’s little virality in that segment. So you gotta choose whether the product you have built has that. If we force virality into Chargebee — we may miserably fail.

I personally do not like a referral program which has economic incentives — it is gamed ultimately.

Q8. How should growth teams be measured on? Say over a quarterly OKR.

A: Would depend on the objective. To give you a specific example at Chargebee, we do integrations as part of growth. My Top level KPIs are number of integrations per quarter. The second order KPIs are engagement with the partners (webinar, events, blogpost, etc.)

Q9. For a B2B product with a certain set of features and a pricing model that a customer is paying, how do you approach adding new awesome “features” from pricing perspective. When would adding base slab make sense? How would a ‘take all features a-la-carte and here’s the price for each feature’ approach, get percieved?

I would start at the segment — who is your buyer and then add features to that segment. example, a cheap hosting plan has a single user as a buyer. He is looking to quickly build a few pages and GTFO. Would you add plugins? Would you add security? Would you add ecommerce?

I would throw features in the laundry, dry it, iron it and hang the clothes in the room. Then build three wardrobes as three segments. Decide where would you put what. Once you have stuffed the wardrobe then put a price tag.

You can’t give a luxury vest to someone who like running bare chested. 🙂

Q10. What do current accelerators/incubators lack? How would you do The Morpheus differently?

A: Oh man. AFAIK and tell sitting 6,000 miles away in the Bay area, there is still a whitespace in the incu/acc area.

Very few accelerators/incubators are run by people who have been entrepreneurs themselves — many run by friends so I’m gonna stop at that comment.

Q11. What’s the career path of growth team members? (FYI: Except 1 or 2 companies, no company in India has growth team)

A: Product -> Growth -> Back to Product.
Marketing -> Growth -> Chief of Growth at Coca Cola
Marketing -> Growth -> More Marketing

Eventually Marketing is going to split between Corp Marketing, Demand Gen, Product Marketing and Growth.

Marketing would be busy keeping sales happy, everything else is noise for them that would be picked up by growth.

Q12. Broadly, what kind of tool stack would you recommend to SAAS growth marketers?

#1 Recommendation. Choose the best analytics tool for your specific needs. In B2C chasing and measuring consumers across channels could be the main goal. So a combo of demand gen analytics + mobile + social media.

May require some data management — using segment to funnel everything in a warehouse on redshift and building dashboards on top.

Q12.1 What tools do you guys use at chargebee? Possible to share?

A: We use broad range — PowerBI for all my freemium and payment gateway analytics. Hubspot for all marketing automation. outreach for drip. Cloud elements for integration. Aha for product board. Mixpanel for product analytics. There are 30 more!

Q13. What does your typical planning time looks like? How much is strategy? How much action?

A: Plan could be immediate getting parties agree on an action is 2-3 weeks. Strategy is essential our POA (Plan of Action) — what are we doing? why? who are the owners? timeline? outcomes?

Q14. Books and podcasts (if you listen to) you’d recommend (in the context of growth / product marketing).

A: Listen to very few growth podcasts as they all talk hacks. Books around psychology are the best. How people decide? What they decide? What motivates them?

Thinking Fast and Slow by Danny Khanneman is 101 on our psyche.

Psychology of Influence is a must read for growth marketers. I’d also recommend reading Messy Middle by Scott Belsky — gives a Product Management perspective.

Do not recommend any marketing books — because growth is beyond marketing so would not be helpful — you gotta already know that.

A big thank you to Indus for taking the time out (and staying up late at -7 GMT) and doing this AMA. I’m sure everyone will be able to takeaway something out of this that they can apply to their product or business. We’ll be doing a lot more of these AMAs going forward, so keep an eye out for those! Apply for membership to the ProductGeeks Community by clicking here.

What Slack’s First Product Manager Learnt Of Growth Strategies

Slack’s growth has skyrocketed ever since its launch and many years later it still doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon. Kenneth Berger, the first Product Manager at Slack, spoke at an event called ‘Manifesto’ on the growth strategies utilized by Slack and what lessons others can draw from it.

Key Takeaways:

  1. “Pick three key attributes or features, get those things very, very right, and then forget about everything else.” – Paul Buchheit
  2. One metric is not enough. Have enough meaningful data points which can give you actionable insights.
  3. Every strategic and product decision is a trade-off. Make sure you analyze the upsides and downsides of each carefully.

Kickstart your Product Management career with NextBigWhat Academy’s Product Management Course. Featuring 10+ product leaders from across the industry.

How not to kill your Million $ Product Idea


Do you get excited when you find an unsolved problem and start thinking how can you build a product that can be used by millions? Don’t jump off the cliff thinking you have wings and then try to build a parachute while you are in the air before hitting the ground. Fate of such experiences could be fatal.
It’s not enough to choose your product idea based on problems that you or people around you face. You need to think like a product, engineering, business and a marketing professional to build a successful product at the first go.  Here is a framework that attempts to capture how to think about developing a good product and helps you find answers to crucial questions. Where should one zero in while conceptualizing, building, iterating and launching the product and in what order?  Can there be a way to evaluate chances of success ? How to ensure that it will be liked by millions of users ? What should be the priorities for a product that is inherently designed to grow and sustain itself?

Solve a monetizable problem or/and Total addressable market size should be large enough

Your product should ideally solve a monetizable pain point.  Zomato helps you choose a restaurant based on locality, cuisine and menu. You should appeal to a vast and large audience either by creating a novel and engaging product or by exceptional marketing. Consider Pokemon GO. There is no burning problem that you solve by building a game but games manifest innovation, unleash creativity and are one of the most successful app categories when it comes to engagement and monetization. More than 20% apps on play store and app store are games.
More often than not, we don’t understand the difference between a problem and viable business idea. How can you be sure that you are really solving a problem that can help you build a sustainable business ? I think there is no other way than talking to your potential users or customers. If you are building a B2B product, you should try and sell it even before you start building it. Either you will get to know that it doesn’t sell or you will know what to build in order to sell the product to the customer. Try to get a pre-order if customer agrees to buy. If you are building a B2C product, try to do as many user interviews as you can and understand the way currently users/people are solving that pain point. Then, evaluate if your product offers a superior solution or not.
A product can create a large enough market in many ways. It can serve vast number of users (e.g. Music streaming apps) Or the frequency of transaction/interaction could be very high in a niche segment (e.g. dribble). By large enough market, I mean revenue potential and hence how likely is it to build a sustainable business.
Let’s take an example. If you wish to build a feedback & ratings app only for educational institutions(K-12), you shouldn’t only look at total number of parents living in a city/state/country or number of schools in that particular city/state/country. Find out who are your customers/users – Schools or Parents ?
What are existing ways to find out reviews about schools?  How many parents have their children who study or studied in K-12 institutions recently? How many of them can go to internet to review an institution? How many of them will actually review a school? How will you be able to monetise these users?
Will this further reduce this number? Try to match this number by looking at existing competitors’ traction. How much money can you make using your revenue model considering this target user segment. The money you can make by monetising TA is a fair indicator of your actual market size.

Pricing Model & Affordability

Pricing is the most tricky part. Your product should be affordable to a large part of the target audience and you should be able to make profit. If affordability matters, few may argue- shouldn’t we then offer every product for free? Well, then you may not be able to survive. You need to find out the right price point at which you can sell your product or service to a large enough audience to survive. Well researched pricing structure defines your brand positioning, funding requirements and your sustainability.
Youtube Red that competes with Hulu and Netflix, offers monthly subscriptions at the cost of 10 USD. Even after an year of launch, it has only 1.5 M users among 11 countries.  USA alone has ~160 MN youtube users. Conversion rate is way below than 1%. Before we deduce that users didn’t find ‘ads-free content, offline viewing, off-screen listening, google play music subscription and exclusive content’ exciting at 10$ per month, we should consider how much money does Youtube make from a user, who watches 1000 videos every month, from ads – may be not more than 2-5 USD.
Why is Youtube Red priced at 10 USD per month then? Comparing the subscription fee of Hulu and Netflix with Youtube Red’s explains the rationale. But is 10 USD per month right price for Youtube Red? It’s debatable.
Consider few more examples- Lumosity has a freemium model. A Limited version is accessible to everyone. For more games, you need to upgrade. Wikipedia and Quora are completely free. Quora has recently started showing adverts. Twitter is free but makes money through ads. Prisma never made money, they are still trying to figure out how to sustain.
I find pricing model of Audible( by Amazon) pretty impressive. Your first book on Audible is Free. Later, you can pay a monthly subscription fee and get one credit every month. You can use this one credit to buy a book every month. If you don’t like the book, you can return it and get another one. You can keep as many audiobooks with you as many credits you have. I am an avid listener of audiobooks. In the long run, I found out that buying an audio book is cheaper than buying a hard copy of books.
Technology products (B2B or B2C) make money in 4 ways –

  • Through Transactions  e.g. Mobile Wallets. E-commerce.
  • Through subscriptions e.g.  Amazon Prime, Basecamp
  • Advertisements/Sponsorships e.g. YouTube. Zomato.
  • Backed by another product that utilises users’ data or data generated by users. e.g. LinkedIn sells – ads , job seeker products and talent solutions by using user-generated data. Practo’s appointment booking app is supported by their practise management s/w.

Your product should make money right from the day 0 or should have a way to turn on revenue channels at a later point in time. It’s absolutely necessary to brainstorm your approach of earning money at the idea stage.
Gone are the days when VCs used to back business models that aimed to make money after 5 years. Key to a sustainable robust business is to grow the company using customer revenues. Your revenue model will evolve over the course of time but you should have a plan to make money from day 0.

Be Effective

Your product should solve at least one pain point very effectively. If you are planning to launch a product in a crowded space, focus on differentiation and be superior to everyone else with that one USP.  e.g. Gmail offered 1 GB of space, cleaner UI, better spam detection and killed Yahoo!Mail.
Your differentiation can be either or all of these-

  • Better design
  • Much desired feature that is not available in competitor’s product
  • Excellent customer service (Quality= Your offering – Customer’s expectation)
  • Different positioning in terms of price or audience
  • Brand messaging

Be remarkable and solve few pain points extremely well. Zivame (an indian online lingerie brand) is an outstanding example of differentiation. They ensure customers choose the right size.
I consider UX part of being effective. You should not make users think about how to use the product and it should be super easy for users to perform their desired/core actions. Consider these examples-

  • If you open periscope using your twitter a/c, you are presented with a world map with several live broadcasters. It’s pretty intuitive to go live. Periscope serves the need to see the world in real time.
  •  Sign up for Pinterest. The first thing it does is to ask you for your top five interests. Next, you are presented with loads of infographics and photographs that can brim you with ideas. It does exactly what it claims.
  • Let’s consider a different example. Search in twitter assists users with trends, recent searches and also provides users an option to filter results based on photographs, videos etc. They are darn good in assisted search.

It’s not only core interaction that needs to be very simple to use but other features too should be easier to use.
Another way to be effective is by creating amazing product experiences focussed on stickiness of product. Cost of switching to another competitor product should be very high for users. You can only achieve this by offering incremental value to users. The more they use the product, the better it should get for them. People have a very short span of attention. Novelty matters. In order to consistently provide fresh experiences, you need to utilise the data generated by users to render personalised experiences.
Repetitive interactions of users around core features and users’ trail should give clues on how to incrementally create delightful and intelligent product experience every time the user logs into the product.  Most importantly, you should figure out how to entice the user to come back to the app/product frequently. This can happen if the product succeeds in locking some reward for the user. Rewards can be anything from endorsements to discounts.
When you publish a post on pulse(LinkedIn) comments, likes and content are locked in linkedIn. Endorsements, recommendations and wealth of your connections are valuable assets for you and you can’t export/detach these from linkedIn. These assets are only usable inside LinkedIn’s platform.
Visual design is another aspect you should worry about in your plan to be effective. Yet, solving pain points and many other things listed here are far more important than a splendid visual design. Just by using material design and by following conventions you can go very far. Simplifying UI and improving the UX should be your priority but not extraordinary visual design. You may omit to focus a lot on aesthetics in the beginning. But aesthetics do matter. Just like marketing matters, copy on your website matters , splendid visuals do matter but as an entrepreneur/Product Manager you can first channelise your energy on rest of the items listed here. Delivering superior quality of service and running the business well by focussing on right metrics can easily trump the benefits of a beautiful app design.  A perfect example of this theory is Amazon’s e-commerce website. Another example is basecamp by 37signals. They are only 50 employees strong and are running a profitable business from last 14 years. Visual design is not exemplary but their website is fast, reliable and easy to use.
An app named Clue that helps women track periods is an awesome app, it does all that it claims and visual designs look stunning. If you can accomplish something like Clue along with other factors, users will love you.

Choose your Metrics wisely

They are compass of your product. They can help you channelise your efforts and resources on areas that can create maximum impact on success of your product and business. Nearly everyone, who has a mobile app measures and chases DAUs, MAUs, stickiness (DAU/MAU), retention (D30, D60), avg session time etc. In my observation, more often than not, these numbers prove to be vanity metrics. Top 2 or 3 metrics to chase should be thoroughly brainstormed inside the company. You should also tweak or change the metrics as your business evolves. Notably, your metrics should be tightly coupled with your business objectives.
For example, as a recharge app your metrics should include the number of transactions made per month and number of transaction processed per month per user. It doesn’t matter what’s your DAU, you only make money when user completes a transaction. If you are clear about your business objectives, eventually you will land up making right decisions. You might even argue what’s the point of building an app and spending money in growing installs if i can achieve similar results using a progressive webApp. That’s exactly the kind of insights you can derive if you focus on right metrics.
Pinterest , world’s catalog of ideas, tracks several engagement metrics since their current/future revenue model revolves around native ads. They measure a unique metric and call it – Xd28s.  Xd28s are the number of Pinners who have used Pinterest for X days in the past 28 days.
Soundcloud tracks number of listeners and number of hours of audio uploaded per minute. These metrics are directly related to their revenue model. They make money by offering paid tiered model to artists/brands with specified audio upload time limits. Soundcloud has a concept of ‘ad-supported listening experience’. They let artists/brands/distributors register as premier partner and make money by ads.

Product as Marketing

Before you build your product, think how can you leverage your product to grow it organically. Such tuning of your product features can give you massive leverage in the initial phase. Using engineering as marketing, empowering your customers utilise the product for an additional benefit and exploiting other platforms by intelligent integrations are few common strategies.
It’s well known that word of mouth is best marketing technique but you need to build the appropriate structure to facilitate such network effect. A marketing campaign that becomes viral over social media is different than a feature or hack that helps grow the user base organically.
P.S. I love you. Get your Free Email at Hotmail – is possibly one of the earliest and best growth hacks that has ever been executed. It was so integral to the product that it helped Hotmail achieve quick insane growth without spending any marketing dollar.
Bland referral campaigns and discount coupons also work but they should be your last resort.
Explore integrations with external tools/products, build partnerships and think hard to build a feature that can empower users with some bragging rights. One of the hacks will work for your product and the target segment, hence consistent experiments are the key.
Few popular ideas used by famous B2C products are –

  • Let users share a valuable content/badge within their network e.g. Crowdfire is a social media engagement platform. One of the features of their product is to let users automate 1st response to new followers on twitter. They give this feature free to all users. All such introductory messages are appended with -via @crowdfire. Simple but very effective hack.
  • Integrate with a very popular product. e.g. Spotify piggybacked on facebook by integrating with itself with news feed.
  • Build a feature that either solves a popular topical problem or is an extraordinarily clever bait. (e.g. Walnut app used its massive user base to let users know which ATM had cash during demonetisation phase in India.)
  • Freecharge initially offered users to choose coupons at the final payment step of recharge. This became a talking point and an additional advantage for users to use free charge. Now, there is a startup codemojo that offers a similar solution as plug & play service.


Building for scale is in DNA and an integral part of business strategy of few companies. I am not talking about scaling technology infrastructure, I am talking about the slope at which your revenue can grow without incurring extra cost at the same rate. Let’s take an example. Assume  you are trying to build a personal assistant, but instead of using AI, you thought it’s good to begin with supporting few use cases and to get it done you hired a team of operators. You can train operators for use cases such as movie ticket booking, train & flight ticket booking, e-commerce or booking a cab but one operator can only handle N number of requests per day. Your product may see a lot of demand and you might think this looks like a great idea to pursue. But, you can’t grow your revenue without incurring more cost i.e. without hiring more operators. If magically, you are able to show some healthy profit margin with this model, it will be extremely tough to move the margin higher as you serve more and more customers unless you are able to automate a large number of requests. This problem is difficult to crack because of complexities around language, semantics and prevalent human – machine interaction in providing assistance. Had it been easy, you might have built it in the 1st place.
I believe that it’s not easy to figure out which model can’t scale. In Shorts from India is another good example. They are news aggregators and give you a 60 words summary of news articles everyday. These articles are written by editors. At prima facie, it may seem that to produce more articles per day they will need more editors to write those stories. It’s absolutely right to assume. Let’s work on the numbers.  Say one editor can summarise 10 articles per day and you have hired 25 editors. Giving some space for operational inefficiencies, you can produce 200 articles per day. Now with varied type of articles, you can serve lakhs(N X 100K) of DAUs, considering your choice of language has such large market size. Currently, they don’t make revenues but native ads could be a way for them. If they are able to figure out enough revenue streams to cover the cost and generate a good profit margin. You can say they have a good business but are they scalable ? There could be one solution which can further increase the readership without incurring more cost if In Shorts can programmatically create article summary. But it’s a very complex problem to solve if you add news articles from different languages, this problem becomes even more difficult to solve.
In nutshell, try to figure out what’s the profit margin you can settle for and would that be sufficient for you to have sustainable business for a long time. There could still be several ways to manage the show and make money at the end of the road. A quick study of silicon valley startups can show you the way, but now a relatively mature ecosystem has taught a lot to investors so your selling skill may be the most coveted weapon in such case.
I asked a question to a set of VCs and angel investors in an event on how do they figure out if a model is scalable or not. I wasn’t surprised when I got no clear answer from them. One partner from a well known VC firm said – “You can only figure it out in hindsight.“ The reason why I think scalability is extremely important is because it can really separate you from a startup and help you become self-sustainable business. Right from the beginning  you focus on increasing revenue and decreasing your operational cost, you possibly have the formula to success.
There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.  – Morpheus from The Matrix. I would be more than happy if you think I can help you in planning, developing and refining your path of execution.