Please join us tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM Pacific for the (final in this form — see below) SaaS Product Power Breakfast with Skilljar cofounder and CEO, Sandi Lin, discussing why product managers make great founders and the potential pitfalls they should look out for along the way.
Skilljar, founded in Seattle in 2013, is a fully distributed, ~150-person company that provides a customer education platform to over 400 customers that’s raised $50M+ in venture capital from top investors including Techstars Seattle, Trilogy, Mayfield, Shasta, and Insight Partners.
Sandi is well, a dynamo, with an impressive academic background (two engineering degrees from MIT and a Stanford MBA) matched by equally impressive work experience (~4 years in consulting followed by ~4 years at Amazon in product management followed by co-founding and leading Skilljar). Our prep call was a whirlwind; it should be a great episode.
Among others, we’ll address these five questions with Sandi:
- Why do product managers make great founders?
- How has your product planning process evolved from founder to startup to scaleup stages?
- As CEO with a product background, how do you interact with your product team now? Has it been challenging to pull back?
- You used to work at Amazon. What are key similarities and differences in product management from a large company to a startup?
- What have you found as your blind spots as a former Product Manager?
The End of This Format; The Start of a New One
I should note that this will be our last episode in this current form. While we are pleased with the success of the podcast version of the SaaS Product Power Breakfast, the live rooms have several drawbacks we’d like to address:
- The platform. While we started the series on Clubhouse as a deliberate way to participate in the evolution of a new app, I believe the platform has technical limitations for what we’re doing and, moreover, is in general trouble. We’d like to try something else.
- The name. While Thomas is in Germany and I am in Silicon Valley, we nevertheless decided to call the series a “power breakfast.” That instantly posed timezone challenges for the live events (e.g., Thomas has a “power breakfast” over a beer at 5:00 pm) and didn’t translate well into the podcast. Moreover, we have strong international audience that should only grow with the recent announcement that I’m joining Balderton Capital as an EIR. So the name was a fail and that’s on me. We need a new one.
- The timing. I’m not sure how to fix this one, but 8:00 AM Pacific isn’t a great time for a live event. The West Coast is just starting work, the East Coast in their last meetings before lunch, the UK is getting ready for a pint, and continental Europe finishing up before heading home for dinner. With Thomas and I separated by 9 time zones, maybe the best answer is no live event at all. Just a podcast. We’re deliberating.
- The duration. While an hour is a relatively short Clubhouse room, it’s a relatively long podcast. We should take a lesson from Harry Stebbings of The 20 Minute VC and work towards a shorter format. Who knows, maybe it will be The 21 Minute Product Leader. (Think: ours goes up to 11)
To those who’ve attended the live rooms and/or listened to the podcast, we thank you. Thomas and I will be back in several weeks with a new name, a new platform, and a new format.