Mark Suster on Building Teams at Early Stage Startups:

In my personal opinion, the most underrated skill at a startup is Product Management.

View the whole snapstorm here - he talks about PM at ~5:55 (-4:30). 1

Mark doesn’t go into a detailed explanation but gives a general overview at what Product Management is about:

  • understanding customer requirements
  • the tradeoff between functionalities and features
  • understanding the competition
  • pricing
  • structuring the product (roadmap)

But what kind of early stage startup is he referring to? I would say that a lot of these tasks, at an early stage startup (pre-Series A), belong to the CEO. At the very minimum, the CEO is heavily involved.

But if the early stage startup he is referring to is a startup that’s closing their Series A, then yes, that seems like a good time to get a Product Manager.

Once your company and product start growing big, as in the product is getting too many features, there’s a need to add many more 2 or you feel there’s a need to build multiple products (e.g. transportation startups have an app for drivers and an app for consumers), then you need someone to help take the load out of the CEO’s back 3.

One thing that I personally believe that is very important when appointing the 1st Product Manager - the person must be well aligned with the vision of the founders - it’s almost like finding a co-founder.
While we usually think that the person must be aligned at day 0, truth is that they can also become aligned with time. This is where personality traits and the preference of the founders come in - do you want someone who’s decided but will tilt into the stubborn area, or someone flexible but perhaps not so unrelentless?

  1. A suggestion for vidme, if they’re gearing towards snapstorms: implement a click to skip feature like Snapchat (or maybe something even better)! 

  2. Not judging if your product having too many features is good or bad, that’s another topic. 

  3. That someone doesn’t necessarily need to be someone from the outside, don’t forget to promote from within.