Product Fundamentals for Startups with John Wetenhall


On Wednesday 28th April 2021 resident Growth Expert Daniel Lohrmann from ikaros facilitated an AMA with John Wetenhall, an experienced product manager who worked at Atlassian and Hatch. He began his career in Silicon Valley in product marketing and brought a strong customer and go-to-market lens to building and growing products. He’s passionate about climate change and is now working on his current project, WorkForClimate.

John shared that through working in product with startups across different stages he faced problems that required different tools and practices, but emphasised these tips:

Shared understanding

A great team shares an understanding of what’s important. This can be done by creating a high level vision document to clarify what you’re building, for whom, and why. It can also help with prioritisation decisions in the longer term.

A vision document usually has the following:

  • Purpose / mission statement
  • North star: the experience you aim to provide your customers in the short term
  • Focus areas: top priorities in the next 6-12 months
  • Measures: measurable goals for each focus area

John also talked about the RICE framework for making product decisions and comparing projects:

  • Reach: number of people or events per time period
  • Impact: estimate the effect on a user
  • Confidence: how sure you are about your estimates
  • Effort: time and resources required

Targets and regular reviews

John emphasised that setting goals and metrics for startups is difficult with limited data and resources, but you can still set targets and a period of review. Pursuing your vision in a startup must be balanced with checks along the way.

Put the customer front and center

Ultimately, it is important to build as much empathy as possible with your target users by talking to them regularly, always seeking feedback and building a culture around the customer problem. This could be done by involving engineers and others to customer interviews and regularly surface customer insights and feedback.

Finally, John ended the talk with a very important takeaway: be disciplined about what problem you want to solve for the customer and how you would do it, write it down and align your team to that goal!

If you missed out on the April Growth AMA session but want to connect and ask further questions to John, you can reach out to him via his Linkedin.

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