I had the pleasure of interviewing Rohan Chandran on the topic of product management, during the second edition of the event dedicated to entrepreneurship, Techsylvania. The concept described in his presentation within the event is the Minimum Delightful Product, a subtle modification of the well-known concept of Minimum Viable Product, but one which has a great impact.
[Ovidiu Mățan] Minimum Delightful product is a great idea for developing new applications. Please describe it in a few words for our readers who couldn't attend Techsylvania.
[Rohan Chandran] Minimum Delightful Experience is an evolution of the well-known concept of the Minimum Viable Product. In fact, the intentions are exactly the same. However, I believe that the change of two words causes a radical shift in how we approach it, because our thoughts and actions are shaped by the words that we use. The key concepts here are:
a) The purpose of doing this at all is to find Product-Market fit. MySpace, Friendster, Orkut and other social networks all found problem-solution fit. Facebook found product-market fit.
b) You are building an Experience, not a Product. A Product tends to be a set of features that you deliver. An experience engages and embraces a person. It tells a story, and evokes some emotion. When you connect on that level, people will respond to what you deliver, and actually become a part of the process of evolving it into the ultimate vision.
c) You are aiming for Delight, not just Viability. When you do the latter, you check off a list of features, and ask your user to validate whether they have been checked off. When you aim for delight, you are creating wonder, awe, surprise, that feeling of "wow!" You want your user to feel like a child does when they discover something new.
d) The hardest, and most critical thing, is the Minimum. Your goal needs to be to create the smallest self-contained delightful experience that allows you to validate product-market fit by testing specific hypotheses that you set up. Anything extraneous should be left out, until you have product-market fit established.
Rohan Chandran Vice President and GM, Mobile Business Unit at Telenav
Knowing your audience for a startup is an important thing. How should a startup consider target audience segmentation?
[Rohan Chandran] I read something a couple of days ago - my French is not perfect, but it translated roughly to "You must reach the people who count, not count the people you reach." These are simple but profound words when you're starting out. We all tend to see the great success stories, but ignore how much went into getting there. Josh Elman, formerly of Twitter, does a good talk explaining how Twitter found its path to growth and success in the early days. Their key, and the key for everyone, was to understand the nature of the user base that was truly engaged, to understand their behavior and how they used the service, and figure out how to replicate that.
When you're starting out, the first challenge is to have a clear target in mind. You might segment by geography (as Uber did), or by demographics of some sort, but don't try to please everybody. Note that this doesn't always mean that people outside your segment cannot participate, but they are not what you are targeting explicitly. From then onwards, it's about looking at the data and understanding the engagement. You may be surprised - you thought you were selling flowers to errant husbands who needed a last minute bouquet, but your best audience may be daughters sending flowers to their mothers.
What will be the minimum for a new online service that is selling something/flowers? Should they try monetization from Day 1 ?
[Rohan Chandran] If you're selling something, then absolutely, your Minimum Delightful Experience has to include the monetization component - after all, that is the cornerstone of your business. What you probably would want to do here is focus on a narrow geography, with maybe just one type of flower and arrangement. You're not trying to test whether people prefer roses or tulips - you are trying to validate that they actually want to use your service as you have set it up. Have you made it simple and delightful for them to order from you, and can you fulfil their order? If you get that right, adding different flowers, different geographies, and the like, is the easy part.
How do you see Product Management in an Agile world? How does it work with development and design cycles ?
[Rohan Chandran] The art and science of Product Management is evolving. The goal of a product manager in an agile world is similar to the goal of a startup founder/CEO. To define the context for the team - what are we trying to achieve and how will we measure success; to ruthlessly prioritize - define what the MDE is and how we iterate from there; and to enable and facilitate however needed to help all members of the team deliver - which means being a jack of all trades as well as a master of a few.
Any tips for designing a delightful product?
[Rohan Chandran] There isn't a magic formula, but I would above all countenance people to focus on the minimum, because if you can keep that constrained, you are already halfway towards a delightful experience. It is the hardest and therefore most critical thing to do, because there are always more little features and ideas that you imagine will make your product better. Beyond that, it is essential to be really open minded and unattached to your ideas, and then to get users - real people - looking at your experience very early on. Go out to coffee shops, bus/train stations and ask people for their feedback. Watch their body language, and learn to read between the lines, and you'll know very quickly if you're delighting them or not.
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