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A Startup’s Product Roadmap

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Here’s a simple generalization of the product and sales CEO in a startup:mcdonalds-hug

  • Product CEOs – They love the thrill of inventing new things and new ways to help customers while generally spending most of their time with the R&D team. Often, they have an engineering or analytical degree.
  • Sales CEOs – They love the thrill of closing a new customer and figuring out how to win more deals while generally spending most of their time with the sales team (see the SaaStr post on Hyperaggressiveness). Often, they were a sales executive before becoming a startup CEO.

The next time you meet with a startup CEO, see if you can figure out if they’re generally product focused or sales focused. Most fall into one of these two buckets.

What else? What are some more thoughts on product or sales focused startup CEOs?

David Cummings on Startups

Product roadmaps are a tricky thing in startups. As a startup, one of the most important aspects of the business is the ability to move fast and make decisions quickly based on new information. With a detailed roadmap, especially one shared with key customers, the ability to change direction can be greatly diminished.

Here are a few thoughts on product roadmaps:

  • Consider outlining the public-facing plans in minimal detail for flexibility
  • Maintain an internal-only roadmap with more information and specifics
  • Incorporate feedback from sales, marketing, services, support, engineering, customers, and partners
  • Capture internal ideas in a simple Google Sheet with separate tabs for each constituency
  • Provide an idea exchange for customers to submit requests (e.g. tools like GetSatisfaction)
  • Constantly revisit the roadmap and question how the pieces fit together

Product roadmaps are an important part of any tech company. In startups, roadmaps are especially sensitive and should be dynamic whenever possible.

What else? What…

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