The Customer as Product Manager
by Seni Sangrujee on February 13, 2011When I launch a new app, the initial period is interesting to observe. I consider the initial period the time from 0 to 10,000 downloads (This is for the free version. The free/paid dynamic is a completely different discussion.). A lot of apps never make it out of this initial period. Getting to 10,000 downloads is an important milestone for me because that's when I take a hard look at an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and determine if an idea is worth developing further.
But if an app is going to be a hit, I usually have an idea well before it gets to 10,000 downloads because I'll get a lot of emails from users saying "I love this app, could you add feature X or feature Y?"
Sometimes I'll get into a long email discussion with a user about cool things to add to an app, and it soon becomes clear that they're even more excited about this app than I am.
It amazed me when I first found out that some people spend more time using an app than it took me to write it. I was shocked when I saw that users with 2,000 movies in their collection bothered to enter them all in my Movie Collection App or someone with 600 wines in their cellar spent the time putting them all in my Wine Cellar App. Or the number of people that log onto Prayers to Share every night religiously.
These early adopters that reach out to me are so critical to how the product will turn out because they've embraced the concept and taken it in ways I didn't anticipate.
Lean StartupAt companies I've worked for in the past, I'd usually work closely with a kickass PM (Product Manager) or Client, and between the two of us, we'd determine how a product would evolve based upon input from sources like upper management, customer support, founders' longterm vision, users, and immediate fires to fight.
But in the App World of 2011, it's a much leaner process, so these Early Adopters become virtual Product Managers to help me decide what goes into an app. So when I get a random email with a feature suggestion, I'll bounce the idea off this group of Core Users to see what they think of the idea.