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ubi i/o 2015 week 2: Listen, Execute, Iterate

Listen, execute, iterate. This could be ubi i/o’s 2nd week motto, or perhaps the entire program’s. On week one, our entrepreneurs received a crash course from numerous talented people form the Valley, adjusting their pitches, conducting their first business meetings and creating buzz within their respective industries. 

Product Management: Think Big, start Small

Product Management in the US has a different meaning from traditional PM in France. Tuesday’s workshop addressed the different parts of the Product Manager job in the ICT industry, what factors influence a product lifecycle and development, and how to successfully improve it overtime.   We’ve been pleased to welcome Michael Aidane, Senior Director of Product Management @RadiumOne, Alexandra Levich, Product Manager @Google and Lance Peterson, Product Manager @August Home, Inc. for this session. After a presentation of their respective companies & career backgrounds, they gave us some insights and some key points on how to succeed within your given environment.  Who is a product manager ? By @alex_lev  


The product manager has to be versatile and ready to assume many roles. From being a visionary, power user, as well as a cheerleader and also a janitor, the PM is responsible for the overall success of the product launch and this role is quite complex and time consuming.

As a PM, you must envision the future; ask yourself how your product and its environment will evolve within the next 5 years. You must consider your product, its use, your competitors, your weaknesses, your assets and the various innovations of your product’s ecosystem. 

You already have the vision? Good! You now need to structure it and create a road map. The roadmap should enable you to reach your vision. You need to assess your current assets and figure out what you need to build upon it. Some important questions you may be asking yourself are: how do I prioritize? How do I validate each step? The main thing to remember is to think big and start small. You will be more agile, and you will be able to deliver true value throughout the validation of your roadmap.

Now that you know what you have to do, it’s time for execution. Make it happen. How? Execute, listen iterate! The best way to test your products is to dogfood them. Make everyone in your company use your product, listen to their feedbacks, collect data. From the collected data, you’ll be able to know if you’re failing and if so, fail fast. Just go back to the previous small step of your road map, and start again!

One word about data: always collect them from your users. Instrument your products as much as you can, in order to know what your clients are doing with your product, what problem they are solving with it, how good is your product at solving this problem etc. This is how you can get use cases directly from your customers.

This is the golden path of product development: Think big, start small, dogfood it, use your data, iterate

How do you maintain continuous improvement? By Michael Aidane

Michael is a product manager in a very specific field: Real Time Bidding. His products make about 800 bid decisions a second. That’s several millions of opportunities to improve his product every day. “What used to be a 6 months or a year iteration process suddenly becomes a one second iteration process.”

How does he do that? Data driven decisioning. He instruments the product.
You have to think ahead of time of what you need to collect. From then, develop a hypothesis you implement in your algorithm.

The next step is live testing. RadiumOne splits a campaign budget in 10 buckets where they test 10 different algorithms. They then analyze which are the 3 best ones and make decisions upon that result. Split the budget again, and you’ll be able to choose the more profitable option in correlation to the more profitable algorithm. It allows you to deliver several small releases faster, instead of one big one. Aim at making quick release rate than the one you currently have in order to acquire and keep best practices on processes.  Product Dev: how did you organize your work synergy across all the departments involved in product evolution (developers, marketing, manufacturing…)? In Alexandra’s team: “We use collaborative tools, so product management becomes teamwork. A product manager has to be the center. He / she has to drive the various teams in order for them to work collaboratively. We involve every team early in the product development process, and we keep those teams small”

Lance shares the business context with his developers. But reminded us that more often than not “you’re the one thinking about the customer at all time”

How to address customers fears?

Lance recommends “listening to your customer and reacting quickly to the things that are going wrong”

For Alexandra, “make the benefits and the value of your product overcome the fears, but give the control to the customer”

How far goes your roadmap in the Future?

Lance: “We have three horizons: a year, a quarter and a week”

Alexandra: “Beyond a year, there is no point; the industry is changing too fast.”

Michael:  “We never deliver exactly what we promised a year ago”

What tools to use?

Our three speakers easily agreed on that point: Use collaborative tools, so anyone can see where you are, and what you did to get there. Emails are just pointers

NVCA VentureScape

This week, our startups were invited to VentureScape, NVCA’s annual event. They had the opportunity to attend numerous conferences tackling topics relevant to the VC industry, and also got the chance to network with some of the biggest VCs in the U.S

They received hands on insights on the fundraising process throughout workshops delivered by Jeff Clavier, Founder and Managing Partner at SoftTech VC, Nina Kjellson, General Partner at InterWest Partners, Jim Scheinman, Founder and CEO of Maven Ventures, and Hamet Watt, Partner at Upstart Ventures.


Fundraising: What do you need, when do you need it?

Raising funds sounds appealing, but timing is everything. Try to tackle down milestones by yourself as long as you’re able to. You need to be aware that VCs want to see exponential growth from startups they invest in, and that they make very few investments per year. Therefore, before going into this venture, you should know that raising money in the VC world is not only tough but your approach should be planned and strategic.

Going further, here are some common figures of the different fundraising stages. Pre-seed rounds usually go from $200,000 to $400,000.The first institutional round, the seed round is usually limited to $2M. Luckily for you, seed round investments aren’t limited anymore but it requires you to give away around 10% of your company’s shares. Let’s now talk about the big series. Series A & B can take up to 18-24 months to close, and you’ll have to give up anywhere between  20% to 30% of your total shares. Keep in mind that fundraising is a step by step process. Whatever happens, keep your employee’s stocks around 10%-15%.

How to get what you need?

You know what you need; you’re ready to handle it … now how do you get it?

Before reaching out to VCs, you should research them thoroughly, study their portfolios, and speak with entrepreneurs who have previously been funded by them. Next, you should brainstorm & execute a detailed plan on how you will pitch your company to the targeted VCs. Define the culture you want for your company to make it easier to hire and scale. Prepare to be 100% transparent, because before investing any dollar in your company, investors will ask for detailed information in regards to your finances and operations. There’s no way around full disclosure when VCs invest large sums of money. Last but not least, make sure the structure of your team is ready.

You should be able to manage up to 10 people, beyond that point; you need to consider hiring managers & executives. They will bring leadership and let you focus on what is important for you at this stage: raising money. Delegating is key in leadership.
Now that you’re a bit more aware of how to hunt down VCs, don’t underestimate how important personal relationships are. As we like to say in America, your network is your net worth. Cold emailing won’t get you anywhere. You have to build relationships and meet people. Attend as many events and conferences as you can and build up your network. There’s no secret.

ubi i/o Startup Pitch Night

ubi i/o Startup Pitch Night, occurred this past Thursday, a Pitchforce event dedicated to our startups. Networking skills were put up to the challenge, our 150 guests enjoyed chatting with our entrepreneurs and learning about their various technologies but they had to choose the ones they wanted to see on stage. And we’ve been told it was a tough choice!

The lucky nominees were Adways, Giroptic, HEXO+, Pradeo, Blackfire and Evercontact.

From that point, it was the panel’s turn to make their choice. And once again, it wasn’t easy.

From that point, it was the panel’s turn to make their choice. And once again, it wasn’t easy. After 6 pitches, Q&A sessions, and precious feedbacks, the award went to Giroptic!

The next steps

ubi i/o Startup Pitch Night was too short, or even worse, you missed it. Don’t worry, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with them and see them pitching at the Startup Conference next Thursday! Until then, they’ll keep working on their business development, attend workshops and for two of them, HEXO+ and Giroptic, attend  IoT World!

Here are some pictures of Thursday’s night
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