ProdTok, WTH it is?

Pre-script: I have been categorically told by my family to not use the letter F or the F-word in public or personal forums & discussions. The original title of this post was ‘What the (you know what) is ProdTok?

ProdTok started 1.5 years ago. In my scrapbook, it was first called ‘FEAdea’ (there’s a story behind that name which I will cover later). 2 years ago, when I was randomly approached by the CEO of the company where I was previously working, to work on a new product idea with him, I jumped on the opportunity without much thought. For various personal and professional reasons, I knew just one thing, and that was — no matter what, I had to make it work. I was hell-bent on making the product successful. Without even the slightest of idea of how products are built or sold, I got started. I had no fears — Google was there! I started off with the most random searches possible to learn how building tech products worked. I took a sales course (I had to sell it myself to begin with), a UI/UX course (the engineers and me designed the beta of the product and website together), and a PM course (for, duh, obvious reasons), only to realize months later that both the UI/UX course and the PM course that I took up were actually shit. The sales course, on the other hand, has turned out to be my life’s best time investment so far.

Side-tip: I don’t care who you are, what you do, what you want to achieve, if you have to take-away just one thing from this post, that would be — learn to sell.

I still have no regrets about taking up both those courses. They later helped me distinguish between good, average, and bad content spread all over the web. And thanks to those courses, I became an obsessive reader! I bought books after books on all these topics and like a kid back to school, I would spend 3 to 4 hours every day just reading. I discovered good authors to follow, good blogs to keep a tab on, and good Twitter accounts to regularly keep stalking. Reading, by far has helped me the most to excel at my job and keep myself updated with the changing tech space.

While this all sounds hunky dory and nice so far. It really wasn’t. Like I said, the web is full of resources of all quality to learn from. Google search on the most insignificant, straightforward, or the simplest of any one PM topic and you’ll find at least a thousand, if not more, articles on it. Everyday, I struggle to find high quality content, that I should invest time reading. In this process I spend any time between 15 minutes on my lucky days, which are far and few, to an hour on a daily basis. This has done me one good though. In most work discussions, I can act pseudo smart! Because almost always, I will be able to quote one-liners, blurt out unnecessary facts, and reference well done products. Yes, if you’re into that sort of a thing, reading helps you sound smarter as well.

Coming back to my frustration, I spend not just a humongous time reading but a humungous-er time finding out what to read. This, after maintaining spreadsheets, creating tags & labels in my inbox, using Pocket, keeping my Twitter & Medium count to bare minimum, and what not. Everyday, I struggle to find those few articles which I would be reading in a day to learn a few new things.

This went on for months when I finally decided I needed to solve this. For myself. The first thing I did was that I kept a cap on the number of articles I would read in one day. I randomly chose 3. The next was maintaining a Google sheet with the names of all blogs & authors who published decent stuff. In the same sheet, I also tagged them under different headers and classified them as product management, technical, too technical (yea, I like to keep these so that one day when I am smart, I will go back to these and drink them all down! Like a (lady) boss!), ui/ux, growth hacking, and sales (I guess I shared my platonic views about this particular skill).

Everyday, I now curate the 3 best reads for myself. It still takes up time, but it’s a satisfying process. The 3 articles which I end up reading, which take up any time between 15 minutes to half an hour to read, really help me get my shit right and learn a thing or two.

The thought that this thing that I struggle with everyday, must be troubling so many of you led me to the idea of ProdTok. Lot many times, after reading my posts on Medium, or finding me on LinkedIn, lot of people have approached me to ask how I switched from an engineering degree to a digital marketing job, to tech selling, and now to product management. My rather honest, and single word answer, leave many of them unsatisfied. (Reading; if you didn’t get it).

They then go on to ask me what do I exactly read. The following 3 word phrase is a conversation closure for most. They imagine I don’t want to help. (Lots of stuff; the 3 words phrase). The vision with ProdTok is to really help those people who want to help themselves and learn all the skills required to build, market, and sell a tech product. With ProdTok, I intend to cut the curation time for you and get you habituated to reading high quality stuff for up-to half an hour ever day. Trust me you don’t need more time than that. Just half an hour everyday, and I promise to get you your 3 most useful reads for the day.

My broader mission with ProdTok is to collate, organize, and really make useful all the sea of knowledge on the web around Product Management, Growth Hacking, and UI/UX design.

So that’s what ProdTok is.

So what will be in the newsletter?

  • 3 amazing reads that I promise will be worth your time around UI/UX, Growth Hacking, or Product Management
  • A GIF occasionally
  • A special submission by an entrepreneur, tech founder, or a growth hacker. To begin with this, my very smart friend and founder of Horntell and Similarist, Mohit Mamoria, is helping me out.
  • A shameless plug sometimes — the articles that I write. With an honest promise that I will make them effing useful or else just avoid adding them.
  • Lot of experimentation. I am getting started with 3 reads. And only 3 reads every day. I might change that to quotes, book summaries, product tear-downs, or something that I don’t know right now. My idea here is to learn from you, my audience, and make this entire activity as useful as possible, for you.

But why am I doing it? Don’t I have anything better to do?

Short answer, no. Long answer:

I have really struggled with a problem for two long years and have had couple of people tell me the same. I am experimenting with this idea and let’s together see where this goes. At the moment, my only hope is that you all find it useful.

How do I know I will be motivated to do this for all the months to come?

Short answer, I will find motivation. Long answer:

  • I came back just a few meters away from the loo (holding my pee, of course -_-) when it hit me that I could A/B test the form where I am collecting emails to learn something about my audience. Yes, the game has begun. :)
  • My dinner is kept next to me while I frantically type this. I am 60kgs+ (a number to help tell you that food is really my thing).

I haven’t done either of these two things before. I am sure excited to get started with this. And my current motivation is the 74 emails I have already collected (including my sister’s -_-! Oh come on, my mom and sister also want to learn building tech products.)

How am I going to fund it?

Short answer, I don’t really need funds to get started. :) Long answer:

The bare minimum tools & stuff I need to get started are really costing me, for a month, less than a fancy meal.

OK, so where’s my domain, where are all the social handles, and where’s all that glam?

Short answer, there isn’t. Long answer:

I didn’t want to wait for the perfect pixels to get started. I wanted to get started already, in the most broken manner possible. To test if my Concierge Minimum Viable Product even works! (Btw, if you don’t know what a concierge mvp is, that’s a good enough reason to be on my #ProdTok #3Reads list) And so here I am. The domain, the social handles, a lovely logo (which my favorite people at work, Saptarshi Prakash and Ramakrishna Venkatesan, have designed), a business email, amazingly designed newsletters, are all coming up. Bit by bit. :) While at all of this, I will keep requiring your feedback to keep optimizing this stuff and making it even better and even more useful.

That’s all cool. But do I intend to monetize it? Am I going to sell your emails?

Short answers, monetize, yes, definitely. Sell emails? No. Long answer:

Of course I plan to monetize it. My first earned dollar will really put worth to all the reading I have done so far. And if I am not able to make that first dollar, then I didn’t learn anything. Isn’t it? How else do you know an idea works? When someone, somewhere, finds it useful enough to invest in it. Their time, their money, or their faith.

Sell emails? Again, I learned a nought all these years if I would have to do this. My ego won’t allow! So rest assured, your details are always safe. :)

When do I send my first newsletter?

This Monday! Again, I didn’t want to wait for a special date. Or else I wouldn’t have ever gotten started. This Monday, sharp at 11 AM, expect your first newsletter. And do send me your brutally honest feedback.

Sold? Want to sign up?


Share your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you and could use your help to get started.