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Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

What TikTok Paid Me in 2021 with 100,000 Followers

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Rachel Greenberg

Rachel Greenberg

1 year ago

The Unsettling Fact VC-Backed Entrepreneurs Don't Want You to Know

What they'll do is scarier.

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

My acquaintance recently joined a VC-funded startup. Money, equity, and upside possibilities were nice, but he had a nagging dread.

They just secured a $40M round and are hiring like crazy to prepare for their IPO in two years. All signals pointed to this startup's (a B2B IT business in a stable industry) success, and its equity-holding workers wouldn't pass that up.

Five months after starting the work, my friend struggled with leaving. We might overlook the awful culture and long hours at the proper price. This price plus the company's fate and survival abilities sent my friend departing in an unpleasant unplanned resignation before jumping on yet another sinking ship.

This affects founders. This affects VC-backed companies (and all businesses). This affects anyone starting, buying, or running a business.

Here's the under-the-table approach that's draining VC capital, leaving staff terrified (or jobless), founders rattled, and investors upset. How to recognize, solve, and avoid it

The unsettling reality behind door #1

You can't raise money off just your looks, right? If "looks" means your founding team's expertise, then maybe. In my friend's case, the founding team's strong qualifications and track records won over investors before talking figures.

They're hardly the only startup to raise money without a profitable customer acquisition strategy. Another firm raised money for an expensive sleep product because it's eco-friendly. They were off to the races with a few keywords and key players.

Both companies, along with numerous others, elected to invest on product development first. Company A employed all the tech, then courted half their market (they’re a tech marketplace that connects two parties). Company B spent millions on R&D to create a palatable product, then flooded the world with marketing.

My friend is on Company B's financial team, and he's seen where they've gone wrong. It's terrible.

Company A (tech market): Growing? Not quite. To achieve the ambitious expansion they (and their investors) demand, they've poured much of their little capital into salespeople: Cold-calling commission and salary salesmen. Is it working? Considering attrition and companies' dwindling capital, I don't think so.

Company B (green sleep) has been hiring, digital marketing, and opening new stores like crazy. Growing expenses should result in growing revenues and a favorable return on investment; if you grow too rapidly, you may neglect to check that ROI.

Once Company A cut headcount and Company B declared “going concerned”, my friend realized both startups had the same ailment and didn't recognize it.

I shouldn't have to ask a friend to verify a company's cash reserves and profitability to spot a financial problem. It happened anyhow.

The frightening part isn't that investors were willing to invest millions without product-market fit, CAC, or LTV estimates. That's alarming, but not as scary as the fact that startups aren't understanding the problem until VC rounds have dried up.

When they question consultants if their company will be around in 6 months. It’s a red flag. How will they stretch $20M through a 2-year recession with a $3M/month burn rate and no profitability? Alarms go off.

Who's in danger?

In a word, everyone who raised money without a profitable client acquisition strategy or enough resources to ride out dry spells.

Money mismanagement and poor priorities affect every industry (like sinking all your capital into your product, team, or tech, at the expense of probing what customer acquisition really takes and looks like).

This isn't about tech, real estate, or recession-proof luxury products. Fast, cheap, easy money flows into flashy-looking teams with buzzwords, trending industries, and attractive credentials.

If these companies can't show progress or get a profitable CAC, they can't raise more money. They die if they can't raise more money (or slash headcount and find shoestring budget solutions until they solve the real problem).

The kiss of death (and how to avoid it)

If you're running a startup and think raising VC is the answer, pause and evaluate. Do you need the money now?

I'm not saying VC is terrible or has no role. Founders have used it as a Band-Aid for larger, pervasive problems. Venture cash isn't a crutch for recruiting consumers profitably; it's rocket fuel to get you what and who you need.

Pay-to-play isn't a way to throw money at the wall and hope for a return. Pay-to-play works until you run out of money, and if you haven't mastered client acquisition, your cash will diminish quickly.

How can you avoid this bottomless pit? Tips:

  • Understand your burn rate

  • Keep an eye on your growth or profitability.

  • Analyze each and every marketing channel and initiative.

  • Make lucrative customer acquisition strategies and satisfied customers your top two priorities. not brand-new products. not stellar hires. avoid the fundraising rollercoaster to save time. If you succeed in these two tasks, investors will approach you with their thirsty offers rather than the other way around, and your cash reserves won't diminish as a result.

Not as much as your grandfather

My family friend always justified expensive, impractical expenditures by saying it was only monopoly money. In business, startups, and especially with money from investors expecting a return, that's not true.

More founders could understand that there isn't always another round if they viewed VC money as their own limited pool. When the well runs dry, you must refill it or save the day.

Venture financing isn't your grandpa's money. A discerning investor has entrusted you with dry powder in the hope that you'll use it wisely, strategically, and thoughtfully. Use it well.

Alex Mathers

Alex Mathers

23 years ago

400 articles later, nobody bothered to read them.

Writing for readers:

14 years of daily writing.

I post practically everything on social media. I authored hundreds of articles, thousands of tweets, and numerous volumes to almost no one.

Tens of thousands of readers regularly praise me.

I despised writing. I'm stuck now.

I've learned what readers like and what doesn't.

Here are some essential guidelines for writing with impact:

Readers won't understand your work if you can't.

Though obvious, this slipped me up. Share your truths.

Stories engage human brains.

Showing the journey of a person from worm to butterfly inspires the human spirit.

Overthinking hinders powerful writing.

The best ideas come from inner understanding in between thoughts.

Avoid writing to find it. Write.

Writing a masterpiece isn't motivating.

Write for five minutes to simplify. Step-by-step, entertaining, easy steps.

Good writing requires a willingness to make mistakes.

So write loads of garbage that you can edit into a good piece.

Courageous writing.

A courageous story will move readers. Personal experience is best.

Go where few dare.

Templates, outlines, and boundaries help.

Limitations enhance writing.

Excellent writing is straightforward and readable, removing all the unnecessary fat.

Use five words instead of nine.

Use ordinary words instead of uncommon ones.

Readers desire relatability.

Too much perfection will turn it off.

Write to solve an issue if you can't think of anything to write.

Instead, read to inspire. Best authors read.

Every tweet, thread, and novel must have a central idea.

What's its point?

This can make writing confusing.

️ Don't direct your reader.

Readers quit reading. Demonstrate, describe, and relate.

Even if no one responds, have fun. If you hate writing it, the reader will too.

Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

In November, I made an effort to pitch 10 brands per day. Here's what I discovered.

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

I pitched 10 brands per workday for a total of 200.

How did I do?

It was difficult.

I've never pitched so much.

What did this challenge teach me?

  • the superiority of quality over quantity

  • When you need help, outsource

  • Don't disregard burnout in order to complete a challenge because it exists.

First, pitching brands for brand deals requires quality. Find firms that align with your brand to expose to your audience.

If you associate with any company, you'll lose audience loyalty. I didn't lose sight of that, but I couldn't resist finishing the task.

Outsourcing.

Delegating work to teammates is effective.

I wish I'd done it.

Three people can pitch 200 companies a month significantly faster than one.

One person does research, one to two do outreach, and one to two do follow-up and negotiating.

Simple.

In 2022, I'll outsource everything.

Burnout.

I felt this, so I slowed down at the end of the month.

Thanksgiving week in November was slow.

I was buying and decorating for Christmas. First time putting up outdoor holiday lights was fun.

Much was happening.

I'm not perfect.

I'm being honest.

The Outcomes

Less than 50 brands pitched.

Result: A deal with 3 brands.

I hoped for 4 brands with reaching out to 200 companies, so three with under 50 is wonderful.

That’s a 6% conversion rate!

Whoo-hoo!

I needed 2%.

Here's a screenshot from one of the deals I booked.

These companies fit my company well. Each campaign is different, but I've booked $2,450 in brand work with a couple of pending transactions for December and January.

$2,450 in brand work booked!

How did I do? You tell me.

Is this something you’d try yourself?

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Looi Qin En

Looi Qin En

1 year ago

I polled 52 product managers to find out what qualities make a great Product Manager

Great technology opens up an universe of possibilities.

Need a friend? WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, etc.

Traveling? AirBnB, Expedia, Google Flights, etc.

Money transfer? Use digital banking, e-wallet, or crypto applications

Products inspire us. How do we become great?

I asked product managers in my network:

What does it take to be a great product manager?

52 product managers from 40+ prominent IT businesses in Southeast Asia responded passionately. Many of the PMs I've worked with have built fantastic products, from unicorns (Lazada, Tokopedia, Ovo) to incumbents (Google, PayPal, Experian, WarnerMedia) to growing (etaily, Nium, Shipper).

TL;DR:

  • Soft talents are more important than hard skills. Technical expertise was hardly ever stressed by product managers, and empathy was mentioned more than ten times. Janani from Xendit expertly recorded the moment. A superb PM must comprehend that their empathy for the feelings of their users must surpass all logic and data.

  • Constant attention to the needs of the user. Many people concur that the closer a PM gets to their customer/user, the more likely it is that the conclusion will be better. There were almost 30 references to customers and users. Focusing on customers has the advantage because it is hard to overshoot, as Rajesh from Lazada puts it best.

  • Setting priorities is invaluable. Prioritization is essential because there are so many problems that a PM must deal with every day. My favorite quotation on this is from Rakuten user Yee Jie. Viki, A competent product manager extinguishes fires. A good product manager lets things burn and then prioritizes.

This summary isn't enough to capture what excellent PMs claim it requires. Read below!

What qualities make a successful product manager?

Themed quotes are alphabetized by author.

Embrace your user/customer

Aeriel Dela Paz, Rainmaking Venture Architect, ex-GCash Product Head

Great PMs know what customers need even when they don’t say it directly. It’s about reading between the lines and going through the numbers to address that need.

Anders Nordahl, OrkestraSCS's Product Manager

Understanding the vision of your customer is as important as to get the customer to buy your vision

Angel Mendoza, MetaverseGo's Product Head

Most people think that to be a great product manager, you must have technical know-how. It’s textbook and I do think it is helpful to some extent, but for me the secret sauce is EMPATHY — the ability to see and feel things from someone else’s perspective. You can’t create a solution without deeply understanding the problem.

Senior Product Manager, Tokopedia

Focus on delivering value and helping people (consumer as well as colleague) and everything else will follow

Darren Lau, Deloitte Digital's Head of Customer Experience

Start with the users, and work backwards. Don’t have a solution looking for a problem

Darryl Tan, Grab Product Manager

I would say that a great product manager is able to identify the crucial problems to solve through strong user empathy and synthesis of insights

Diego Perdana, Kitalulus Senior Product Manager

I think to be a great product manager you need to be obsessed with customer problems and most important is solve the right problem with the right solution

Senior Product Manager, AirAsia

Lot of common sense + Customer Obsession. The most important role of a Product manager is to bring clarity of a solution. Your product is good if it solves customer problems. Your product is great if it solves an eco-system problem and disrupts the business in a positive way.

Edward Xie, Mastercard Managing Consultant, ex-Shopee Product Manager

Perfect your product, but be prepared to compromise for right users

AVP Product, Shipper

For me, a great product manager need to be rational enough to find the business opportunities while obsessing the customers.

Janani Gopalakrishnan is a senior product manager of a stealth firm.

While as a good PM it’s important to be data-driven, to be a great PM one needs to understand that their empathy for their users’ emotions must exceed all logic and data. Great PMs also make these product discussions thrive within the team by intently listening to all the members thoughts and influence the team’s skin in the game positively.

Director, Product Management, Indeed

Great product managers put their users first. They discover problems that matter most to their users and inspire their team to find creative solutions.

Grab's Senior Product Manager Lakshay Kalra

Product management is all about finding and solving most important user problems

Quipper's Mega Puji Saraswati

First of all, always remember the value of “user first” to solve what user really needs (the main problem) for guidance to arrange the task priority and develop new ideas. Second, ownership. Treat the product as your “2nd baby”, and the team as your “2nd family”. Third, maintain a good communication, both horizontally and vertically. But on top of those, always remember to have a work — life balance, and know exactly the priority in life :)

Senior Product Manager, Prosa.AI Miswanto Miswanto

A great Product Manager is someone who can be the link between customer needs with the readiness and flexibility of the team. So that it can provide, build, and produce a product that is useful and helps the community to carry out their daily activities. And He/She can improve product quality ongoing basis or continuous to help provide solutions for users or our customer.

Lead Product Manager, Tokopedia, Oriza Wahyu Utami

Be a great listener, be curious and be determined. every great product manager have the ability to listen the pain points and understand the problems, they are always curious on the users feedback, and they also very determined to look for the solutions that benefited users and the business.

99 Group CPO Rajesh Sangati

The advantage of focusing on customers: it’s impossible to overshoot

Ray Jang, founder of Scenius, formerly of ByteDance

The difference between good and great product managers is that great product managers are willing to go the unsexy and unglamorous extra mile by rolling up their sleeves and ironing out all minutiae details of the product such that when the user uses the product, they can’t help but say “This was made for me.”

BCG Digital Ventures' Sid Narayanan

Great product managers ensure that what gets built and shipped is at the intersection of what creates value for the customer and for the business that’s building the product…often times, especially in today’s highly liquid funding environment, the unit economics, aka ensuring that what gets shipped creates value for the business and is sustainable, gets overlooked

Stephanie Brownlee, BCG Digital Ventures Product Manager

There is software in the world that does more harm than good to people and society. Great Product Managers build products that solve problems not create problems

Experiment constantly

Delivery Hero's Abhishek Muralidharan

Embracing your failure is the key to become a great Product Manager

DeliveryHero's Anuraag Burman

Product Managers should be thick skinned to deal with criticism and the stomach to take risk and face failures.

DataSpark Product Head Apurva Lawale

Great product managers enjoy the creative process with their team to deliver intuitive user experiences to benefit users.

Dexter Zhuang, Xendit Product Manager

The key to creating winning products is building what customers want as quickly as you can — testing and learning along the way.

PayPal's Jay Ko

To me, great product managers always remain relentlessly curious. They are empathetic leaders and problem solvers that glean customer insights into building impactful products

Home Credit Philippines' Jedd Flores

Great Product Managers are the best dreamers; they think of what can be possible for the customers, for the company and the positive impact that it will have in the industry that they’re part of

Set priorities first, foremost, foremost.

HBO Go Product Manager Akshay Ishwar

Good product managers strive to balance the signal to noise ratio, Great product managers know when to turn the dials for each up exactly

Zuellig Pharma's Guojie Su

Have the courage to say no. Managing egos and request is never easy and rejecting them makes it harder but necessary to deliver the best value for the customers.

Ninja Van's John Prawira

(1) PMs should be able to ruthlessly prioritize. In order to be effective, PMs should anchor their product development process with their north stars (success metrics) and always communicate with a purpose. (2) User-first when validating assumptions. PMs should validate assumptions early and often to manage risk when leading initiatives with a focus on generating the highest impact to solving a particular user pain-point. We can’t expect a product/feature launch to be perfect (there might be bugs or we might not achieve our success metric — which is where iteration comes in), but we should try our best to optimize on user-experience earlier on.

Nium Product Manager Keika Sugiyama

I’d say a great PM holds the ability to balance ruthlessness and empathy at the same time. It’s easier said than done for sure!

ShopBack product manager Li Cai

Great product managers are like great Directors of movies. They do not create great products/movies by themselves. They deliver it by Defining, Prioritising, Energising the team to deliver what customers love.

Quincus' Michael Lim

A great product manager, keeps a pulse on the company’s big picture, identifies key problems, and discerns its rightful prioritization, is able to switch between the macro perspective to micro specifics, and communicates concisely with humility that influences naturally for execution

Mathieu François-Barseghian, SVP, Citi Ventures

“You ship your org chart”. This is Conway’s Law short version (1967!): the fundamental socio-technical driver behind innovation successes (Netflix) and failures (your typical bank). The hype behind micro-services is just another reflection of Conway’s Law

Mastercard's Regional Product Manager Nikhil Moorthy

A great PM should always look to build products which are scalable & viable , always keep the end consumer journey in mind. Keeping things simple & having a MVP based approach helps roll out products faster. One has to test & learn & then accordingly enhance / adapt, these are key to success

Rendy Andi, Tokopedia Product Manager

Articulate a clear vision and the path to get there, Create a process that delivers the best results and Be serious about customers.

Senior Product Manager, DANA Indonesia

Own the problem, not the solution — Great PMs are outstanding problem preventers. Great PMs are discerning about which problems to prevent, which problems to solve, and which problems not to solve

Tat Leong Seah, LionsBot International Senior UX Engineer, ex-ViSenze Product Manager

Prioritize outcomes for your users, not outputs of your system” or more succinctly “be agile in delivering value; not features”

Senior Product Manager, Rakuten Viki

A good product manager puts out fires. A great product manager lets fires burn and prioritize from there

acquire fundamental soft skills

Oracle NetSuite's Astrid April Dominguez

Personally, i believe that it takes grit, empathy, and optimistic mindset to become a great PM

Ovo Lead Product Manager Boy Al Idrus

Contrary to popular beliefs, being a great product manager doesn’t have anything to do with technicals, it sure plays a part but most important weapons are: understanding pain points of users, project management, sympathy in leadership and business critical skills; these 4 aspects would definitely help you to become a great product manager.

PwC Product Manager Eric Koh

Product managers need to be courageous to be successful. Courage is required to dive deep, solving big problems at its root and also to think far and dream big to achieve bold visions for your product

Ninja Van's Product Director

In my opinion the two most important ingredients to become a successful product manager is: 1. Strong critical thinking 2. Strong passion for the work. As product managers, we typically need to solve very complex problems where the answers are often very ambiguous. The work is tough and at times can be really frustrating. The 2 ingredients I mentioned earlier will be critical towards helping you to slowly discover the solution that may become a game changer.

PayPal's Lead Product Manager

A great PM has an eye of a designer, the brain of an engineer and the tongue of a diplomat

Product Manager Irene Chan

A great Product Manager is able to think like a CEO of the company. Visionary with Agile Execution in mind

Isabella Yamin, Rakuten Viki Product Manager

There is no one model of being a great product person but what I’ve observed from people I’ve had the privilege working with is an overflowing passion for the user problem, sprinkled with a knack for data and negotiation

Google product manager Jachin Cheng

Great product managers start with abundant intellectual curiosity and grow into a classic T-shape. Horizontally: generalists who range widely, communicate fluidly and collaborate easily cross-functionally, connect unexpected dots, and have the pulse both internally and externally across users, stakeholders, and ecosystem players. Vertically: deep product craftsmanship comes from connecting relentless user obsession with storytelling, business strategy with detailed features and execution, inspiring leadership with risk mitigation, and applying the most relevant tools to solving the right problems.

Jene Lim, Experian's Product Manager

3 Cs and 3 Rs. Critical thinking , Customer empathy, Creativity. Resourcefulness, Resilience, Results orientation.

Nirenj George, Envision Digital's Security Product Manager

A great product manager is someone who can lead, collaborate and influence different stakeholders around the product vision, and should be able to execute the product strategy based on customer insights, as well as take ownership of the product roadmap to create a greater impact on customers.

Grab's Lead Product Manager

Product Management is a multi-dimensional role that looks very different across each product team so each product manager has different challenges to deal with but what I have found common among great product managers is ability to create leverage through their efforts to drive outsized impacts for their products. This leverage is built using data with intuition, building consensus with stakeholders, empowering their teams and focussed efforts on needle moving work.

NCS Product Manager Umar Masagos

To be a great product manager, one must master both the science and art of Product Management. On one hand, you need have a strong understanding of the tools, metrics and data you need to drive your product. On the other hand, you need an in-depth understanding of your organization, your target market and target users, which is often the more challenging aspect to master.

M1 product manager Wei Jiao Keong

A great product manager is multi-faceted. First, you need to have the ability to see the bigger picture, yet have a keen eye for detail. Secondly, you are empathetic and is able to deliver products with exceptional user experience while being analytical enough to achieve business outcomes. Lastly, you are highly resourceful and independent yet comfortable working cross-functionally.

Yudha Utomo, ex-Senior Product Manager, Tokopedia

A great Product Manager is essentially an effective note-taker. In order to achieve the product goals, It is PM’s job to ensure objective has been clearly conveyed, efforts are assessed, and tasks are properly tracked and managed. PM can do this by having top-notch documentation skills.

Patryk Nawrocki

Patryk Nawrocki

1 year ago

7 things a new UX/UI designer should know

If I could tell my younger self a few rules, they would boost my career.

1. Treat design like medicine; don't get attached.

If it doesn't help, you won't be angry, but you'll try to improve it. Designers blame others if they don't like the design, but the rule is the same: we solve users' problems. You're not your design, and neither are they. Be humble with your work because your assumptions will often be wrong and users will behave differently.

2. Consider your design flawed.

Disagree with yourself, then defend your ideas. Most designers forget to dig deeper into a pattern, screen, button, or copywriting. If someone asked, "Have you considered alternatives? How does this design stack up? Here's a functional UX checklist to help you make design decisions.

3. Codeable solutions.

If your design requires more developer time, consider whether it's worth spending more money to code something with a small UX impact. Overthinking problems and designing abstract patterns is easy. Sometimes you see something on dribbble or bechance and try to recreate it, but it's not worth it. Here's my article on it.

4. Communication changes careers

Designers often talk with users, clients, companies, developers, and other designers. How you talk and present yourself can land you a job. Like driving or swimming, practice it. Success requires being outgoing and friendly. If I hadn't said "hello" to a few people, I wouldn't be where I am now.

5. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Copyright, taxation How often have you used an icon without checking its license? If you use someone else's work in your project, the owner can cause you a lot of problems — paying a lot of money isn't worth it. Spend a few hours reading about copyrights, client agreements, and taxes.

6. Always test your design

If nobody has seen or used my design, it's not finished. Ask friends about prototypes. Testing reveals how wrong your assumptions were. Steve Krug, one of the authorities on this topic will tell you more about how to do testing.

7. Run workshops

A UX designer's job involves talking to people and figuring out what they need, which is difficult because they usually don't know. Organizing teamwork sessions is a powerful skill, but you must also be a good listener. Your job is to help a quiet, introverted developer express his solution and control the group. AJ Smart has more on workshops here.

Tora Northman

Tora Northman

2 years ago

Pixelmon NFTs are so bad, they are almost good!

Bored Apes prices continue to rise, HAPEBEAST launches, Invisible Friends hype continues to grow. Sadly, not all projects are as successful.
Of course, there are many factors to consider when buying an NFT. Is the project a scam? Will the reveal derail the project? Possibly, but when Pixelmon first teased its launch, it generated a lot of buzz.

With a primary sale mint price of 3 ETH ($8,100 USD), it started as an expensive project, with plenty of fans willing to invest in what was sold as a game. After it was revealed, it fell rapidly.
Why? It was overpromised and under delivered.

According to the project's creator[^1], the funds generated will be used to develop the artwork. "The Pixelmon reveal was wrong. This is what our Pixelmon look like in-game. "Despite the fud, I will not go anywhere," he wrote on Twitter. The goal remains. The funds will still be used to build our game. I will finish this project."

The project raised $70 million USD, but the NFTs buyers received were not the project's original teasers. Some call it "the worst NFT project ever," while others call it a complete scam.

But there's hope for some buyers. Kevin emerged from the ashes as the project was roasted over the fire.

A Minecraft character meets Salad Fingers - that's Kevin. He's a frog-like creature whose reveal was such a terrible NFT that it became part of history – and a meme.

If you're laughing at people paying $8K for a silly pixelated image, you might need to take it back. Precisely because of this, lucky holders who minted Kevin have been able to sell the now-memed NFT for over 8 ETH (around $24,000 USD), with some currently listed for 100 ETH.

Of course, Twitter has been awash in memes mocking those who invested in the project, because what else can you do when so many people lose money?

It's still unclear if the NFT project is a scam, but the team behind it was hired on Upwork. There's still hope for redemption, but Kevin's rise to fame appears to be the only positive outcome so far.

[^1] This is not the first time the creator (A 20-yo New Zealanders) has sought money via an online platform and had people claiming he under-delivered.  He raised $74,000 on Kickstarter for a card game called Psycho Chicken. There are hundreds of comments on the Kickstarter project saying they haven't received the product and pleading for a refund or an update.