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Anil Lakhman

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Product Management Notes



If you’re starting an online business there are dozens of things you should probably know. You are required to be a polymath and able to bring together disparate ideas from a range of disciplines to execute your vision.

I’d recommend reading The Learn Startup by Eric Ries to get started but you should also have interest across various other fields such as computer science, business, economics, psychology & behavioural economics.

I’ve collated some of my notes here to help me learn things as I go along.

Checkout this playlist on GV channels, it contains everything you need for product management.

Product Strategy

User stories
  • As a <role>, I want to <goal/desire> so that <benefit>
Value proposition
  • What benefits are you providing?
  • How are you better than competitors?
  • How do we know we’re adding value to users lives?
Growth Engine
  • Through what engine will be acquire new customers.
Product Market fit
  • Meets customer needs
  • is better than other alternatives
  • is easy to use
  • has a good value/price
  • At least 40% of users saying they would be “very disappointed” without your product
  • Arbitrary, but defined after comparing 100 startups
  • Those that struggle for traction are always under 40%
Steps to achieving Product Market fit
  • Understand under served customer needs
  • Define your products value proposition
  • Build wireframe/mockup
  • Get user feedback
  • Iterate


Frameworks can help with the planning and execution of products. Below are some of the commonly used frameworks for product management.


Dave McClure

Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue


Use the HEART framework to find the right UX metrics for your product.

Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, Task Success

Marketing Mix

4P’s of Marketing

Product, Pricing, Promotion, Place

5 Why’s

From Eric Ries Lean Startup the 5 whys.

Ask why 5 times to get to the root of the issue (toyota manufacturing bugs)


Cost based

Value based

Competitor based


Impact vs Effort (High Impact for Low Effort = Yes, Low Impact for High Effort = No)

Weighted scoring - Apply points to each criteria and than score them

Kano Model - Requires more research for understanding

Porter 5 Forces

Threat of New Entry

Threat of Substitute

Power of Suppliers

Power of Buyers

Market Rivalry


SWOT Analysis

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Product Analytics & Metrics

Metrics are numbers that measure the effectiveness of your business.

In a start up company, you have to have focus, and you should focus on the one important metric that matters for the task at hand.

This is specific to your business and could be one of any of the following.

Acquisition metrics
  • CPA - Cost per acquisition

If your CPA is higher than your LTV, then your in trouble.

Conversion metrics
  • Trials / Conversion = Conversion rate
  • Funnels

How many get to “Get started” step 4/4 - 14% How many get to “Get started” step 2/2 - 86%

Engagement metrics
  • Hits
  • Page views
  • Visits
  • Unique Visitors
  • Returning Visitors
  • Registered Users
  • Customers
  • Frequency
  • Time on site
  • Daily Active Users (DAU)
  • Cohort analytics to track engagement for new/old users over months (Slide 47)
  • Design changes to facebook’s deactivation page accounted for 1 million people not leaving
Satisfaction metrics
  • Net promoter score - Score = % Promoters - % Detractors
Emergent Metrics
  • “Once a user has 5 friends - they become active users”
  • Average Revenue per Customer
Innovation accounting

Determines whether your experiments are productive or not.

  1. Set the baseline MVP
  2. Optimize the MVP
  3. Pivot or Persevere
Vanity metrics

“They make your competitors feel bad and don’t tell you anything about the company”

  • Google analytics (there will always be something up and to the right)
  • Anything you read on tech blogs
  • “Google plus hits 10m users in 2 weeks”
  • “GroupMe is now sending one million texts a day”
What metrics matter?

Facebook - 150,000 users, little revenue

  • But 75% of users visits once or more per day
  • Within one month of launching on campus, can acquire 90% of students

Value hypothesis - How do we know we’re adding more value to our customers lives?

Growth hypothesis - Through what engine will we acquire new customers?

Good metrics..

  • are Actionable
  • can be Audited
  • are Accessible

Eric Ries’s Three Engines of Growth

Eric Ries’s Three Engines of Growth

  • Viral - Make people invite friends (metric: how many do they tell, how fast they tell)

    • Metric: Viral coefficient
    • Positive growth looks like: Viral coefficient > 1
  • Sticky - Keep them coming back (metric: do I get customers faster than I lose them)

    • Metrics: New Customer Acquisition (NCA), Customer Churn Rate (CCR)
    • Positive growth looks like: NCA > CCR
  • Paid - Revenue, spend money (metric: cost me less to acquire than I extract from them)

    • Metrics: Lifetime Value (LTV), Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
    • Positive growth looks like: LTV > CPA

You can also add 2 more - Empathy (First) and Scale (Last).

The Viral Coefficient

The Viral Coefficient
Users x Viral Coefficient - churn & abandonment > 1
    1. First, calculate the invitation rate, which is the number of invites sent divided by the number of users you have.
    2. Then calculate the acceptance rate, which is the number of signups or enrollments divided by the number of invites.
    3. Then multiply the two together
  • Example:

    • 2,000 customers have sent out 5,000 invitation during their lifetime.
    • Your invitation rate is 2.5. - [5000 / 2000 = 2.5].
    • For every ten invitations received one gets clicked.
    • Your acceptance rate is 0.1. - [500 / 5000 = 0.1].
    • Multiply the two and you have your viral coefficient: 0.25.
    • Every customer you add will add an additional 25% of a customer.

Dave Mclure - 5 metrics to track - AARRR

Funnel Metrics
  • Acquisition - User visits

    • Users come to the site via multiple channels.
    • Blogs, facebook, adwords
    • High volume channels
    • Low cost channels
    • Best performing conversion channels
  • Activation - User Registers

    • Users enjoy first visit: “happy user experience”
    • 10-30 seconds on the site, 2-3 pages, 3 clicks
    • A/B Testing, landing pages
  • Retention - User comes back

    • Users come back, visit multiple times
    • Email - automated, lifecycle, +3, +7 +30 days
  • Referral - Friend of user signs up

    • Users like product enough to refer others
    • Don’t do viral marketing until your product is up to scratch, people talk (bad press)
    • Email, links, blogs, widgets, word-of-mouth, facebook, twitter
  • Revenue - User pays for something

    • Users conduct some monetization behaviour
    • Figure it out

The ultimate measure of progress in any startup is rate of validated learning


Video Source - Dave Mclure - AARRR


PDF Source - Big Lean Table Metrics

Video Source - Google Ventures workshop: Lean analytics -

Product Execution


How do you prioritize?

  • Which user benefits should you address?
  • Which product features to build?

Prioritization should be based on customer value.

  • Importance vs Satisfaction framework
  • Importance of user need (problem space)
  • Satisfaction with how well a product meets the user’s need (solution space)
  • Kano model
A/B Testing
Testing one thing at a time
Multi-variate testing
Changing several things at once to see which correlates with a result.
Growth hacking
  • Find a metric you want to change (engaged subscribers)
  • Find all the things that correlate with that
  • Test causality - test until you know which one has a causal relationship
  • Optimize the causal factor

Healthy Living & Bio-Hacking

In any profession, you want to be functioning at 100%. Here’s some resources to help you achieve maximum mental and physical performance.



A group that has something in common through their lifespan (month/week they joined)

Never look at users in aggregate (new users are more engaged)

[A tool for browsing cohort data sets] [Startup Lab workshop: Cohort analysis]

Correlated vs Causal

Correlated - Two variables that are related (but may be dependant on something else). (Ice cream & drowning)

Causal - An independent variable that directly impacts a dependant one. (summertime & drowning)

If you find the leading causal metric for a behaviour you want in your company, you can grow it at will, as long as you can change the causal factor

Net Adds
New Users - Churn

Objective & Key Results

[Startup Lab workshop: How Google sets goals: OKRs]

Why use OKRS?

  • Disciplines Thinking (The major goals will surface)
  • Communicates Accurately (Let’s everyone know what’s important)
  • Establishes Indicators for measuring progress (Shows how far along we are)
  • Focuses Effort (Keeps organizations in step with each other).

How to set OKRS?

  • Start ASAP in your business, good & bad habits form quickly
  • Set Quarterly & Annually (Annual ones aren’t “Set in stone”)
  • Personal / Team / Company OKR’s (Publicly available to everyone, inc the CEO)
  • Max 5 Objectives with 4 key results
  • One page best, 2 maximum
  • Continue incomplete key results ONLY if they’re still important
  • OKR’s are not a performance evaluation weapon
  • Out of 100%, a 70% is a good, 40% is to low, 100% is to high (OKR was not set high enough).
  • Objectives should be ambitious
  • Key results should clearly make the objective achievable
  • Key results are quantifiable & lead to objective grading, how much better? (metric)
  • OKR’s are measurable
  • 0.6 - 0.7 is your target for your OKR grade

Sample OKR #1

  • Objective: Accelerate Blogger Revenue Growth
  • Key Results: [Grade - 0.7]

    • Launch “Monetize tab to all users” [1.0]
    • Implement AdSense Host Channel Placement Targeting to increase RPMs by xx% [0.3]
    • Launch 3 revenue specific experiments to learn what drives revenue growth [0.7]

Sample OKR #2

  • Objective: Grow Blogger traffic by xx% over organic growth
  • Key Results: [Grade - 0.45]

    • Launch 3 features that will have a measurable impact on traffic [0.6]
    • Improve Blogger’s 404 handling to extend time on site and pageviews per session on 404 sessions by xx% [0.3]

Sample OKR #3

  • Objective: Improve Blogger’s Reputation
  • Key Results: [Grade - 7.2]

    • Re-establish Bloggers leadership by speaking at 3 industry events [1.0]
    • Co-ordinate Blogger’s 10th birthday PR efforts [0.8]
    • Personally reach out to top xx Bloggers [0.8]
    • Fix DMCA process, eliminate mistaken music blog take-downs [0.4]
    • Get active on twitter [0.6]
A pivot is a change in strategy based on learning from market feedback When? When each additional experiment leads to less progress
Product Market Fit
Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market
Numbers and stats, hard facts, less insight, easier to analyze (large data sets)

Unstructured, anecdotal, revealing, hard to aggregate (data expressed in people, words and feelings around actions)

“Pot holes app was created, was used by rich people only, didn’t show pot holes in poorer areas”

A slice across a cohort (high budget vs low budget user, repeat customers)


Quotes I come across relating to product management which I liked.

The vast majority of startup’s fail NOT because they couldn’t build a product, but because no one wanted the product.

—Steve Blank - The four steps to the epiphany

The vast majority of successful [startups] abandoned their initial plans and learned what would and would not work in the market.

—Clayton M. Christensen - The Innovator’s Dilemma

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.

Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

—George Bernard Shaw - Irish playwright

The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.


I like the last quote, A business is a great example of a “whole”, it’s the sum of the processes, values & people within that organization, which, once added together is greater than the sum of it’s individual parts.