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The last time I had a conversation with Harry Stebbings was over 3 years ago.

A lot has changed for me in the last 3 years.

I started working with a new co-founder (Marie) on a few new businesses.

Together, we rebranded my personal email newsletter which is now called Product Habits, we created a few different software products until we landed on the one we’ll be working on for the foreseeable future. It’s called FYI and we’re building a Document Organization Service to help you find your documents in 3 clicks or less.

Recently, Harry asked me to join him on his podcast once again and the episode is live now. …

The other day, I was chatting with a good friend of mine.

And he told me this story.

He was sitting in a meeting with his boss, everything’s going great. Ideas are flowing, there’s a great vibe and energy in the room.

And then the boss says “hey, could you pull up that document?”

And my friend gets that “stomach drop” feeling.

“Uhh… yeah… one sec. I have it right here, I think.”

He opens his laptop and starts frantically looking for the file. Is it in Google Drive? Dropbox? Maybe Quip? Wait, what team was that doc for? What folder? Did he create it or did someone else? …

I used these three product rules to find the biggest problem people have with documents. And I’ve solved it. Learn more about my new product FYI.

About two years ago, my co-founder Marie Prokopets and I got really interested in fundraising. We were talking about fundraising to companies all the time and giving them advice about how to raise money. I had more requests for fundraising conversations than ever before. A dam had burst.

We thought there must be a problem for us to solve in the fundraising market, so we dug in with research.

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That single tweet led to us interviewing 37 people, all of whom had serious challenges with fundraising. …

These days, it’s really easy to write code. What’s hard is knowing what the right things to code are.

This is something I see all the time. A company builds a successful initial product. They get a bunch of paying customers — which is great. These customers have a lot of new ideas and feature requests based on where they want to see the product go. Because these customers are paying money, and because they often have good ideas, it makes it hard to shoot them down.

If you only listen to your existing customers, you reduce friction for adoption. That helps you build according to what your customers need today. But it doesn’t necessarily tell you what your customers will need tomorrow. …

Good onboarding is about making sure the user is set up to accomplish exactly what they want to do quickly — and getting out of their way. Unfortunately, some of the onboarding tools out there make it really easy to just spam people.

Tools like Appcues and Intercom power onboarding flows and in-app messaging in ways that definitely can be great. Before they were around, we used to have to do all of it ourselves. Still, blitzing users with five pop-up notifications and a bad welcome email the moment they sign up doesn’t necessarily help them use your product. …

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I’m a big believer in lifelong learning. I read everything I can get my hands on, listen to audiobooks at 2x speed, and rely on products like Blink and Audible to learn even faster. Everyone has the ability to learn faster than they think they can, and increase their daily consumption of information.

To become a learning machine though, you can’t just overload yourself with information. You have to apply critical thinking to what you’ve learned.

One of the most helpful tools I’ve found for this is cultivating an understanding of different mental models.

Professor of digital computing at MIT Jay Forrester defined a mental model

When you open HubSpot’s dashboard you’re hit with a ton of stuff:

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Critics think HubSpot has succumbed to feature creep. But, HubSpot’s product is intentionally robust; it promises to be the one-stop shop for all of your marketing and sales needs. The complexity of the product isn’t a vice or something to streamline. Quite the opposite: HubSpot’s product delivers on the value it promises to customers.

“Feature creep” has become one of the dirtiest terms in the product management world. …

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I’ve been using Facebook and its growing family of products for years.
Every. Single. Day.

I first tried using Snapchat in 2012, back when it was an early but growing disappearing photo app. It never quite stuck for me.

I still don’t use Snapchat much and would barely count as a monthly active user. I do understand why people love it. It greatly reduced the friction of sharing photos and short videos with friends. Plus it’s made sharing more fun through the use of filters and augmented reality (AR).

One of the standout features of Snapchat has been Stories. And what did Facebook do? They didn’t just copy Stories once, they copied it across all of their core products. …

In 2011, Joel Spolsky launched his company Fog Creek’s new product at TechCrunch Disrupt called Trello. It looked a lot like a whiteboard with sticky notes translated into a web browser and an iPhone App. Instead of physically moving a sticky note on a whiteboard, you could drag and drop cards on a board from your web browser.

Within days, Trello succeeded in getting 131,000 eyeballs. 22% of them signed up. The vision for Trello was to create a wide product that was so simple and useful, just about anyone could use it. It caught on like wildfire.

It’s also why Trello ultimately had to sell to Atlassian for $425 million when it could have become the next $1 billion SaaS application. …


Hiten Shah

I have started several SaaS companies including Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics and FYI. I love creating Products that people love to use.

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