Product Management in B2C - AMA with Vaibhav Padlikar

Hello folks! Welcome back to our weekly AMA series. This week we were glad to invite Vaibhav Padlikar, VP, Products, IntrCity / RailYatri.

Vaibhav is an IIT Varanasi graduate. He served as Senior Lead Software Engineer at Adobe post which he became the Co-founder of Phone Warrier Inc which got acquired by Snapdeal. He is the VP, Products at RailYatri. He is innovative and loves to solve complex problems.

In this AMA, Vaibhav answered questions about important product management skills to break into a PM role. He also shared about customer needs and essential metrics to be tracked. Find out more below!

What are the most important factors while hiring a new PM?

Important factors to hire a PM for me are 

  • Attitude to learn & collaborate. 
  • Communication with stakeholders. 
  • Customer focus / understanding customers. 
  • Eye for detail / Diving deep into problems.  
  • Ownership & Independent thought process.
  • Nimble / Hands-on: willingness to travel extra miles.

Can someone with a background in Data Science move to PM roles? Do PMs require Tech Background?

Product Managers essentially focus on “Simplifying" things for all stakeholders internally and make a product that is usable, feasible and that can make business sense.  I have seen people from Tech easily move to product roles but I have also seen non-tech people move to this role.  People with data science experience have added advantages and can track what features / products work with users and what does not.  

How do you identify unmet and inarticulate needs of the consumer? 

Yes, there are indeed occasions when customers can't articulate their needs or tell you what they are looking for. But once you show it to them, they jump on it.  

There are 2 ways I try to achieve it 

  • Users might be asking for something else while they actually need something else. So their articulation may be wrong but their pain points / peeves are not wrong. Try to understand and live with that pain point rather than looking for the direct solution that the user is asking for. 
  • Experience the journey yourself - My team has taken upteen train & bus journeys to come up with various solutions that users can never even think of.  

How can a startup grow user acquisition via Organic methods/channel?

First and foremost - depending on the business and problem you are solving you will have to dig into levers of organic growth. 

  • Understand User behaviour and liking for the product 
  • The most important lever for your organic growth is ORGANIC User Ratings.
  • Gain insights to build new add-ons or improve current features that will aid in organic growth of products.  
  • Set up ASO / SEO (Deep links / deferred deep links)
  • Improve on-boarding
  • Track social mentions.   

In general, single minded focus on solving user pain points & retaining them is the key to grow organically.

How has the Platform Number Prediction been built?

Platform number prediction works on crowdsourced curation. We populated the data initially into the system from publicly available sources and some from our train travel experiences since most of us are avid travellers and had that background knowhow. 

The feedback loop is inherently built into it, users report if the platform number is incorrect and on the basis of a simple voting algorithm and user profile, the model updates it. 

However, platform number predication is the easiest of what we have built. More complex systems work in predicting when a train will arrive at next stops since that involves various variables like traffic of trains, speed, unplanned stops, train routes, etc.  

I am working on a MVP which is a new product in a competitive market. When should I launch it ? 

You should launch it with MVP of the USP. What you believe as USP, may not turn out to be USP for users - that is what is your true litmus test. So whatever it takes to validate hypotheses should be done first. You already know through your competition that other features work in general. So MVP is not MVP, if you are just copying existing features from competition. Your true test lies in testing USP through your MVP.

How can we break down problems to the smallest part possible and then solve them ?

Problem Analysis is an art that you will perfect with time. Key is how you synthesize and then form hypotheses. It's important to try out and validate or invalidate the hypotheses. This is how you would invent eventually and in the process of inventing new things, one is bound to fail. So don't be scared to fail - in fact with "Experience" one learns to fail fast. So you break the problem into parts till you can form meaningful "Hypotheses” to test and validate. If you fail, you come back to the problem to break it further.  

What factors should one consider in setting metrics for the product? 

Metrics would depend on the hypotheses you form in the above answer, user goals & business goals you initially set to solve for. Be data driven and if you can't track the right metric, try to figure out a surrogate metric and triangulate one metric with another.  

What behavioural metrics should one consider tracking in a B2C set up considering a resume building platform?

Assuming that the resume building platform is just helping customers build their Resumes and not connecting to recruiters here. 

What I would want to measure is - 

  • How much of the Resume that the platform makes eventually needs editing by the end customer. 
  • Another metric to track should be around user experience: which can be measured by NPS scores. 
  • And figure out optimal session time (not too high / not too low) - both are not right for this kind of a business. 

Want to join the next conversation? We’ll be having another Product Chat soon, get your invite to our Slack community to get all the details. See you inside.

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