Tim Bates has been taking things apart, fixing them, and building products since he was a kid. He has also been a product creator, founder, and CEO and more recently, an interim executive for hire serving in innovation, product and senior leadership roles. Another interesting thing about Tim is that he lives in Boulder, Colorado, which is an entrepreneur and startup utopia. It is frequently recognized as one of the best places to found a startup, even rivaling San Francisco with a higher per capita percentage of computer scientists and PhDs.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include…
- The agile product owner was originally expected to spend half their time externally in the market with customers and the other half internally with the product team. Very few product managers are able to break free of internal responsibilities to free time for external work. Therefore, companies are trying to find other ways to address both.
- Crossing the Chasm is a book by Geoffrey Moore that addresses creating and selling disruptive products. He updated it last year to the third edition and has referred to the new perspective as Crossing the Chasm 2.0. This is a beneficial read for product managers.
- One big difference between a startup and an enterprise is in the production of a product. Startups are more experimental while enterprises are more finance focused. Enterprises are less likely to engage in Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).
- The make-up of a product from a startup versus a large company is very different because a startup might design the product for a smaller consumer volume while larger companies may be constrained by minimal revenue hurdles.
- When a larger company is buying a startup, sometimes they may be buying it for technology reasons that fit into their roadmap of products or they might be viewing it as a disruptive product and they buy it in order to decide what to do with that disruptive product.
- When large companies buy startups, the founders often stay with the enterprise as product managers that continue to lead the product work and contribute to future products.
- In the book, “Early Exits,” researchers show that founders receive the same amount of money after 4 years or after 14 from inception of the startup. It’s the same amount of money to them because after 14 years, they are more diluted in the company.
- Earlier exits are more appealing because you have the opportunity to explore more ideas and projects than you would if you were to spend years trying to grow one idea into a larger organization.
- Being an innovation product manager of a larger company has its advantages as it takes some of the administrative functions out of the startup’s responsibility and allows the product manager to be more market and solution focused.
- Clayton Christensen, the professor who started the terminology of the “disruptive innovation,” said that if it’s a true disruptive capability, the only model that works is setting it up as an independent business unit and running it in isolation from the existing business.
- A key role for an executive for hire is asking questions such as “What are we doing here and how are changes going to affect everything?”
- The culture aspect is key and it influences companies more than a lot of people recognize. Culture makes or breaks changes that are needed.
- When a large organization purchases a startup, it is important to keep the culture that has developed within the startup as opposed to trying to assimilate it, especially when they have contracted the original staff that worked to build up that startup from the beginning.
- “Crossing the Chasm: 2.0” presentation by Geoffrey Moore
- “Early Exits” book by Basil Peters
- Tim Bates on LinkedIn
“The problem is not the dreamer. The problem is the people who just dream.” – Ayn Rand (from “The Fountainhead”, published 1943)
Listen Now to the Interview
Raw TranscriptTEI 033-Fostering Innovation via a Startup-With Tim Bates
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