0-1 Product Frameworks - AMA with Ashwin Toshniwal

Alright! Continuing with our series of blogs where we cover the AMAs we hold over our Slack channel. In case you missed it we regularly host Product Managers and talk about everything #product.

Ashwin Toshniwal is looking after New businesses and Product at CRED. He has also been part of early stage investment team at Kalaari. So here is your chance to have a masterclass in "0-1 Product Frameworks".

Here are some key takeaways:

What does your current role at CRED involve and how did you break into this role given your background?

In my current role - as a part of new initiatives at CRED. At the onset it was very open role where at CRED we had the leverage of a large community and the idea was to build meaningful products / business lines on top of this base. Currently I lead business initiative for a new product of ours which is in Beta !

In hindsight the role at an investment firm was a great launchpad in just understanding businesses very closely and was lucky enough to bring those strengths on the table at CRED

How does your typical day at CRED look like?

A Typical day - varies but I think this can give a good jist. 40-50% of the day is on external calls with the idea on gathering feedback from stakeholders in shaping the product post the beta. 20% on defining larger roadmap, charter, monthly, product strategy as a whole , 20-30% on shaping the feedback into actual product side changes

Which are the best frameworks you've found for managing stakeholders and finding great companies?

Managing stakeholders - don’t think I have found a framework, my role involves interactions with a bunch of stakeholders both internal & external and I think one of the learnings from a podcast by Reid Hoffman which I try incorporating is on this concept of a platform & making all your stakeholders a hero & that’s where the platform win ultimately.

Finding great companies - well the VC background kinda gave a framework here in whom to go after & whom not.

In the early days, how much of the time you spend on talking to users vs iterating faster. Any frameworks available on iteration cycles?

Talking to users - I think I don't do this enough but across all functions we make it a point to try and spend at least 3-4 hours a week (early products even more) on speaking to users / stakeholders if B2B.

Iteration cycles - not sure if this is a framework but what has helped me at the early stage is trying to break down the problem into a simple 80-20 basis the larger feedback, typically the 80% is very visible  & would require only 20% time.. the remainder 20% wins is harder & may need the 80% of your time and that's a battle to be picked at some more scale.

Can you share some not so common frameworks that you use in you day to day jobs?

Not so common frameworks - I don’t come from a typical product background, so in that sense I feel like a clean slate and everything is uncommon to me. The biggest framework in early stage of a BU / product if I could put it is probably answering what is your right win in the most objective manner ?

For non consumer charging 0-1 products, how do you know that you’ve achieved some PMF? Any examples from CRED?

I think the Superhuman framework is great for defining & understanding early PMF in general for B2C and non consumer facing products as well.

CRED is known for great design. What frameworks are being used while designing and also how closely product manager works with UX folks?

Design is a super core part of everything we do at CRED. Design as a moat is actually quite true I'd say !

Product Managers and Designers work very closely and Design has a very strong say in defining and debating on the ideal consumer journey !

How do you measure performance of any offer/reward listed on the platform? What are the metrics? And what tradeoffs you have with brands on what % of discount to be allowed. Like X % discount for Y points.

So there are categories which have done well for us in the past (impulse heavy in general), the standard engagement metrics in terms of reward adoption, CTR etc. All discounts offered by brands to CRED members are typically best in class because as a user you are a high intent user now if you're giving up an asset of yours to interact with a brand.

Starting with credit card payments and now to CRED cash (Loan offering). How do you choose the problems to solve around Finance landscape ? How did you avoid the obvious of being an UPI payment app?

From Credit Cards bill payment we moved into card management as a whole (unbilled, smart statements etc.) which makes it a single place for everything credit cards. We want to start for credit cards as a brand and credit card users in general and all our products then cater to either of the two use cases.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you begin your journey at CRED? And how you overcame it?

The biggest challenge to me was coming from a non Product / tech background in general. Honestly this was was overcome quite fast largely due to the culture at CRED where every individual is hired for certain key spikes and everything else is super collaborative. In my case the spike was business understanding and my role grew out in that shape.

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