Pivot 2012 is fast approaching. So fast, in fact, that there’s less than a week left to register for the premier conference for those working at the intersection of Social and commerce. It’s going to be a hotbed of innovative ideas and prescient glimpses of the future. It’s also a great opportunity to rub elbows with all those decision makers and visionaries that you read about in Fast Company. That’s why we jumped at the chance to sit down with Pivot President Mike Edelhart to talk about the conference, the future of Social, and the changing face of business. Read More →
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Senator Chuck Schumer, a longtime ally of the New York tech crowd, recently called on the MTA to create a “Nerd Bus” route — yes, that’s actually what he called it — to connect all points along New York’s dot-com frontier. His statement followed the MTA’s announcement of a proposed “Brooklyn Tech Triangle” connecting DUMBO, the Navy Yard, and Downtown Brooklyn. Read More →
Today we are pleased to welcome Wyatt Jenkins, VP of Product for Shutterstock, to the blog. Wyatt shares his insights on breaking into the product management game and how he built a world-class team.
Hiring is a topic I’m passionate about because I like to work with bright, enthusiastic people who challenge me every day. I’ve spent the last decade building teams (most recently a product organization that includes designers, researchers, and product owners), and I’ve learned a number of lessons in that time. Let’s focus specifically on product ownership — a role that many gravitate toward, but few do well. I’ve seen many different types of people find success as product owners — from former developers, English majors, designers, and project managers, all the way to former CEOs and small business owners. (I prefer the term “product owner” to the more well-known “product manager” because managers manage and owners own, and building great products demands ownership.) I want people who are technical enough to dig deep with the development team and at the same time enjoy interacting with customers to discover value. Finding the right person with the right combination of customer focus, consensus building, and technical savvy isn’t easy, so I’ve put together a few things to look for during the interviewing process. Read More →
Last Saturday the New York Times’ business section ran an article (“Nurturing a Baby and a Start-Up Business“) about women with small children who launch high-growth tech companies. It profiled several women launching and running highly successful start-ups while they are pregnant or have very young kids and how their success is “dispelling the image of the tech entrepreneur as a single, usually male, wunderkind.”
The article goes on to say that the investing world remains skeptical about a woman’s ability to launch a tech startup and make it work while also raising young kids. Apparently some — but not all — venture capital firms are concerned that women with small children won’t put in the long hours and give the 150% required to make a fast-growth tech company work in the first few crazy years. Read More →
We’re pleased to welcome Sheryl Victor Levy to the blog. As a coach for businesspeople who don’t want to be left behind by technology, and as a digital strategist in her own right, she always aims to be a little bit ahead of the curve. She’ll be blogging for us about the ways that digital marketing, advertising, and media are changing just about every other aspect of business — and what you need to know to use this knowledge to your advantage.
Last week I attended the June New York Tech Meetup, along with nearly 800 other guests. Given that the group as a whole has some 24,000 members, these Meetups are always in demand. I had an extra ticket, and I received more than 25 emails in less than 24 hours asking about it.
The event consists of two hours of presentations by local startups, and then an after-party (which yours truly was way too tired to attend). I have to say, the evening was pretty cool. Read More →
- The venture capital firm Y Combinator is willing to fund startups that have no idea what they’re doing — literally: “If you apply for this batch and you seem like you’d make good founders, we’ll accept you with no idea and then help you come up with one.”
- From now through the end of April, Inc. magazine is taking submissions for its annual Inc. 500/5000 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies. To make the list, companies need to have made at least $2 million in revenue last year and at least $100,000 in revenue in 2008.
- Scott Belsky of Behance covers “Reactionary Work” and the four other kinds of work that fill our day. As you might expect, it’s the essential but hard-to-schedule Planning Work that usually gets short shrift. [The 99 Percent]
- And David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, has some ideas on how to fight back when technology keeps you from being as productive as you’d like to be. Spoiler: there’s no quick fix. [NYT]
- The clothing chain Uniqlo pays its workers a lot more than its competitors, and so far that strategy has paid off in equally high profits. James Surowiecki looks at the “false economy” of scrimping on payroll. [The New Yorker]
If you’re a startup with limited funds, then you have no choice but to hire generalists. Employees who wear many hats can produce a minimally viable product faster and more cheaply. And a smaller team means a nimbler team, which takes less time to make decisions.
The downside, of course, is that rarely will someone be an excellent engineer, product person and CEO all rolled in one. Rarely is someone a great saleswoman, marketer, and financial analyst. And even more rarely is someone a great UX designer, writer, visual designer, and researcher. Everyone has a finite number of strengths, and that means that your startup will suffer from a lack of talent in the areas in which your team is weak.
Fast-forward a bit, to when your company has grown to the point at which you can start hiring for specialized positions. You can bring in the top players in all the essential disciplines and start filling out the areas in which you’ve been weak. From a hiring perspective, things get a bit easier: you know exactly what you need. However, the startup world still tends to attract players who can play multiple positions. It rarely attracts star single-position players. You may still find yourself interviewing generalists—some of whom are very talented—but the organization you’ve now created mostly needs specialists. If you hire a generalist for a specialist position, he or she is likely to feel underutilized and start branching out of the space you’ve carved out for them. Read More →
The Hired Guns’ newest blogger, Matt Smith, is an expert at developing new products, innovative thinking, and startups. He’ll be putting his knowledge to good use for us as he writes about product management and methods to help companies innovate effectively, especially in an Agile environment. Matt sees his mission as “helping people grow, fostering ideas, and solving complicated problems in an innovative way.” We wanted to find out more . . . .
Upper West Side, NYC
Director, New Products & Innovation at Shutterstock
Where do you plan to take your column this year?
I really want to focus on success by innovation. Specifically how being Agile, in both product development and in business operations, can lead to innovation and, ultimately, success.
What do you hope to accomplish with your Hired Gun posts?
I’d like to help people understand innovation; how to find the open spaces within a business or industry, and fill them. Ultimately what we as product people are here to do is figure out how to help people, how to solve problems, and make people’s lives easier. At our core, we’re innovators. Or course, that’s much easier said than done.
Not everyone understands how to innovate, how to fill those gaps, and how to do it successfully. I’m writing these posts to help people learn and how to succeed.
Who should be checking you out?
Everyone from a new product person to a CEO who is looking to understand how to bring Agile to his or her business so that it can operate and innovate quickly and successfully.
There is a right way and a wrong way to be Agile, and it’s a slippery slope. When done the right way, Agile can help a company be incredibly successful, but when done wrong, it can really hurt a company. People who want to understand the right way to be innovative through Agile should be checking me out. Read More →
- The co-founder of luxury deals site Gilt Groupe discusses the skills, temperament, and other traits to look for in other members of your startup’s team. [Bnet]
- What’s the newest crop of MBAs earning? [Bnet]
- The BDO accounting firm is handing out a $5 Starbucks gift card for every headhunter voicemail or email that employees forward on to HR. Caffeine bribery works, evidently: BDO got at least 200 submissions in the first part of its anti-recruiter drive. [Going Concern]
- The Education for Employment Foundation works to help young people in the Middle East find jobs: “Being unemployed anywhere in the world is depressing, but it’s even harder in the Middle East,” says the NGO’s founder, the businessman Ron Bruder. [CNN]
- Forbes uncovers three new “career management musts“. These sites will let you “score” your professional online brand, help you get a raise, and partially automate your job search by keeping track of contacts, interviews, and all other forms of contacts.
- Kris Ruby, the head of her own PR agency, talks to Business Insider about her biggest challenge as a young entrepreneur: it’s “time management and balancing my personal and corporate brand. In your first year as a start up, you do not necessarily have the cash flow to bring on a full time staff and you are often a ‘one man show’ wearing many hats….”
- If you haven’t voted in our “Should interns get paid?” poll, you have until noon Eastern today. A couple of the choices are running neck-and-neck…
Headed to SXSWi and feeling a little overwhelmed? A little advice….
- An amazingly handy-looking scheduler to stay on top of all the events.
[via 17 dots]
- 6 successful SXSW Startup launch stories and SXSW for startups [Mashable]
- Geekdad’s 20 Tips for Surviving and Thriving SXSWi
- And finally, epic advice from writer-comedian Alex Blagg on Dominating the SXSW Party Scene