PRODUCTHEAD: Acting like a startup seeking funding

PRODUCTHEAD: Acting like a startup seeking funding

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

pyramid product #


tl;dr #

Bootstrapped startups have free rein with their strategy

Successful startups try to anticipate failure, and learn from it when they don’t

Investors look for long-term defensibility of your product’s proposition and unique advantage

Operational velocity is key to company success


a favour: please share this with other product people

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to

hello #

I’ve always tried to provide thought-provoking content for product people of all types, whether they have ‘product’ in their official job title or not. I also believe inspiration comes from perspectives outside of our usual beat. If it gets you thinking in a different way, then that’s no bad thing.

This week I’ve decided to bring together some great content for you on startup funding.

Chances are that you’re working at a well-funded or profitable organisation. So what can you learn from stories of how founders bootstrapped their companies, or how venture capital firms decide whether to invest in a startup?

You may not have direct P&L (profit and loss) responsibility for your product, but you could certainly benefit from adopting a mindset of a bootstrapped startup. Think of it this way:

How would you change your approach to prioritisation if you could only afford to do two of the ten things on your roadmap?

How could you get a greater, more meaningful outcome by extracting every last drop of value from the skills and resources you and your team already have available?

How can you make every iteration of your product work harder commercially to help you unlock the revenue to fund your next expansion?

In the same way, thinking like a founder pitching to VCs for Series A funding means you have to have a razor-sharp and detailed understanding of the problem you’re solving with your product, and for which people. What’s your plan to handle different scenarios? Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) calls this the ‘idea maze’.

Enjoy the podcasts and articles, and have a great week!

Speak to you soon,

Jock Busuttil

what to think about this week #

Bootstrapping a business: tips from successful founders in the game

Experts suggest that startups – which are not funded – are more likely to become successful. They hold the point that this happens because startup founders who have their own funds at stake (bootstrapping a business) are more likely to work in their startup to get their funds back.

To a bootstrapped startup, money is air

[ARSALAN SAJID / CLOUDWAYS]

The state of venture capital

Chris Dixon is a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). This interview provides a rare peek behind the scenes of what happens at a16z and the business philosophies that laid the foundation for its success. Chris also reveals what he looks for when he evaluates a company in search of funding.

How great ideas are funded

[SHANE PARRISH / THE KNOWLEDGE PROJECT]


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

We can help you prepare for your product manager interview, including mock interviews.


“Jock has been instrumental in my personal growth as a product leader but also as a person.”

Ludovic Lacay

Ludovic Lacay
Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Napo


A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.


Top 10 tips to early-stage fundraising success

It’s a rare startup that successfully makes it from seed to Series A in under three years. Research from Dealroom suggests that the average time to achieve next-level business funding is 18 months — with the majority of companies not hitting this milestone until month 36. In fact, only 5% of startups successfully complete Series A funding rounds within the first year.

How to build a strong plan

[CAYETANA HURTADO / BALDERTON CAPITAL]

Ramp’s Eric Glyman

Eric Glyman is the Founder and CEO @ Ramp. To date, Eric has raised over $390M for the company from some of the best including Thrive, Stripe, Founders Fund, Coatue and Box Group to name a few.

Why does Eric believe that “funding rounds are science experiments”? What should founders look to prove or disprove with each round? Why does Eric believe “you should never take the highest price”?

How to work with venture funds

[HARRY STEBBINGS / THE TWENTY MINUTE VC]

recent posts #

What to do when service transformation goes wrong

When companies set out to improve a service or redesign a product, the results can sometimes be underwhelming. Instead of delivering service transformation, the team recommends only minor efficiency tweaks. If this has been happening to you, there can be many underlying causes. I’ve identified a few common problems and what you can you do about them.

Change means doing things differently, not just a rebrand

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

The neverending quest for product-market fit

Often the biggest barrier to your product’s widespread adoption is going to be whether it reaches product-market fit early on. Even if you do, you’re wrong if you think you never need to worry about product-market fit again.

It’s not a one-off exercise

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

Mission to Mars

Imagine you’ve just been told that you’ll be a member of the team responsible for the first manned mission to Mars.

Now imagine someone asks you how much the mission’s going to cost. The whole thing. There and back. By close of business on Thursday.

Aaaaaarrrrrrgggh. It depends

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

upcoming talks and events #

I’ve spoken at various product management and technology conferences around the world. I share ideas primarily on the topic of product management, and this tends to overlap with agile and ethical product development, digital transformation, and fostering healthy product cultures and communities.


“Day 2 saw an impressive presentation by Jock Busuttil on user testing. He asked the attendees to lend each other a smartphone and take a picture. What a turmoil that caused ;-) ”

Walter Schärer

Walter Schärer
Marketing & Business Development Director, BlueGlass Interactive


If you’d like to book me to speak at your event, please get in touch.

can we help you? #

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

Product People Limited logo

Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from stuff we found lying around the office.

Jock is a freelance head of product, author and conference speaker. He has spent nearly two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. His clients include the BBC, University of Cambridge, and the UK's Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, a product management consultancy and training company. He is also the author of the popular book The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management and the blog I Manage Products.

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