ManoMano Tech  Team
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ManoMano Tech Team

PM recruiting interview: a product case study from ManoMano

If you want to practice for PM interview, you have great books (Cracking the PM interview for instance), but we wanted to share a case we used to do at ManoMano’s first times. Our new cases are similar in their structure but are about ManoMano’s product! Enjoy! If you want more details about how we (try to) recruit great PMs, feel free to read this article! And if you want to apply at ManoMano, we always have open positions so take a look at our offers.

Statement: you have been hired as the first product manager for a young food-tech startup who wants to provide people with the opportunity to pre-order ahead their lunch from the app and to collect it right to the restaurant’s cashier without lining, at the time of their choice.

In real conditions, candidates can ask whatever questions they want, they are not supposed to have any knowledge. The [XXX] item refers to the skill we assess.

Questions: (answers are grouped together at the end to allow you go through the case almost like in real conditions)

1/ [Discovery] According to you, to which needs would this application answer ?

2/ [Discovery] Why offering take-away? And not delivery, at the era of Deliveroo?

3/ [Strategy] What could your go-to-market strategy be?

4/ [Delivery] What MVP could you suggest to test the market fit? In order to force you into being really lean, you have a budget of 1€ and 2 days to make your test. Think as much as possible of no-tech solutions…

5/ [Data] How much orders would you expect to receive to conclude the test is successful?

6/ [Discovery] You only got one order during your test… Why do you think this service might finally turn out to be a bad idea?

7/ [Discovery] Why on the contratry all McDonald’s are now equipped with ordering machines….?

8/ [Strategy] It turns out after a second User Research phase that what customers really need for lunch is a cheaper meal… Why could it be hard to negotiate discounts with restaurants at lunch (while The Fork successfully did it for dinners for instance)?

9/ [Delivery] Could you think of a way to still get some interesting discounts from restaurants at lunch? A hint follows below…

(hint: restaurant owners are very interested in attracting big neighbourhood companies employees in their restaurant…)

10/ [Communication] Could you summarize in a few bullet points what we went through? Imagine for instance that you are pitching a VC in a lift.

11/ [Tech] How would you implement “company dedicated offers” in terms of data architectures ? Keep it macro by naming the key tables you could use, most important fields

12/ [Management] Your boss comes to see you. He absolutely wants you to implement online payment. On your side, you don’t see the value as back in the beginning of the 2010’s more than 50% of the orders were paid via physical meal vouchers… How would you handle the discussion with him not to implement the feature?

13/ [Delivery] One of your main issue is the menu update. Many restaurant owners don’t update their menu with specials of the day preventing users to place their orders. What could you think of to incentive them to update their menu (that would also improve the user experience, which excludes discounts on the price…)

14/ [Strategy] How could you price such a service? Pros and cons of each.

15/ [Delivery] We raised founds with Edenred (world leading prepaid services company) who saw our service as a great opportunity to increase the value of his “ticket restaurant” but we still failed to scale our service. According to you why?

Answers:

1/ [Discovery] According to you, to which needs would this application answer ?

Check if candidate thinks of both persona: restaurant owners and final users.

Restaurant owners:

  • Acquisition of new clients through the platform
  • Better loyalty for existing clients through value added services like pre-ordering
  • Yield management: prepare some orders at empty hours before the rush

Final users (during the discussion, try to make the candidate clarify the target: in a hurry employees in offices urban areas)

  • Skip the line and enjoy more your lunch break
  • Be sure to get your favorite meals even at the end of the service

We will focus the discussion on final users.

2/ [Discovery] Why offering take-away? And not delivery at the era of Deliveroo?

Delivery has some drawbacks, especially for lunch:

  • It is more expensive than going directly to the restaurant
  • Some people want to go outside to take a real break
  • You have to wait for sometimes a long time before being delivered

3/ [Strategy] What could your go-to-market strategy be?

You could follow this strategy:

  • Proceed locally (metro station area), select most crowded area to start with
  • Recruit first (trendy) restaurants with heavy lines, doing door to door
  • Recruit users by flying in the area at lunch time to market the services
  • If it works, repeat in other areas

4/ [Delivery] What MVP could you suggest to test the market fit? In order to force you into being really lean, you have a budget of 1€ and 2 days to make your test. Think as much as possible of no-tech solutions…

This question is really to assess the creativity and pragmatism of the candidate. Interviewing users is not enough, what you really want is to try the service in most realistic conditions.

  1. Find a friendly restaurant owner, ask if you can run a test for 2 days in his restaurant
  2. Stick a paper note at the cashier saying “If you want to skip the line tomorrow, order ahead by text message before 12 AM at 06070809” (this is your number or restaurant owner order)
  3. Count number of orders you get the day after

5/ [Data] How much orders would you expect to receive to conclude the test is successful?

What we want to assess is the ability of the candidate to find the right drivers of orders numbers and to suggest pertaining benchmarks to assess their value. Finally see if he can run basics maths (using round numbers for instance, what matters is the order of magnitude)

  • 100 orders per day for a restaurant (candidate can say he would sit in front of a restaurant at 12:30 and count number of customers entering during 10 minutes, or more simply ask the restaurant owner his number of daily order)
  • 50% of customers are in a hurry at lunch time and could be interested by the service
  • 10% of potential users would “convert” by seeing the note at the cashier (pretty bold, ask the candidate about conversion rate on a newsletter for instance)
  • So 5 orders would be really nice

6/ [Discovery] You only got one order during your test… Why do you think this service might finally turn out to be a bad idea?

Initial target of in a hurry employees is the wrong ones:

  • If in a hurry, employees hardly have the time to pass the order ahead
  • If in a hurry, it is hard to figure precisely at what time you will be able to go out for lunch
  • The benefit of skipping the line is finally weak compared to the pain of downloading the app, registering and ordering… A better user research would have highlighted that lunch break was perhaps the only moment for in a hurry employee where they could breathe and take time…
  • In a hurry employees are a small share of total employees having lunch…

7/ [Discovery] Why however all McDonald’s are now equipped with ordering machines….?

  • Customers don’t have to download any app
  • Ordering machines offer nice and big images, much more visible than menu billboards behind the cashier
  • More than skipping the line, people appreciate having time to place their order peacefully without 10 customers waiting eagerly behind them
  • McDonald’s can rearrange its restaurants to better fit the new orders flow brought by machine ordering (dedicated lines, posters to make these lines visible…)

8/ [Strategy] It turns out after a second User Research phase that what customers really need for lunch is a cheaper meal… Why could it be hard to negotiate discounts with restaurants at lunch (The Fork successfully did it for dinners for instance)?

Dinner restaurants have high margins especially on alcohol and low repeat compared to Lunch restaurants (low margin, high repeat). Acquisition is key for dinner restaurants so they are keen to offer discounts to get new customers in their restaurants.

9/ [Delivery] Could you think of a way to still get some interesting from restaurants at lunch? (hint: restaurant owners are very interested in attracting big neighbourhood companies employees in their restaurant…)

Even if restaurant owners are reluctant to offer discounts at lunch (most of them prefer a loyalty program), they make big efforts to attract employees from big companies. We discovered that many restaurants offered secretly discounted meal for big companies in their neighbourhood. But they are bad at marketing (at least in France) and don’t make it to enter the company and talk to the office managers. We offered them, in exchange for negotiated deals with companies, to go and see office managers with a nicely packaged marketing offer that they could spread among their employees. This was a game changer:

  • Restaurant owners now fought to offer best deals to company
  • Employees had a real reason to come and order on our platform since these special offers were only available online when entering the profesional email address (restaurant owners did not want other customers to be aware of these special offers)

10/ [Communication] Could you summarize in a few bullet points what we went through? Imagine that you would pitch for instance a VC in a lift.

  • We first started an online pre-ordering app to allow employees to skip the line at lunch time
  • We realized that employees did not care about time saving but wanted discounts
  • Restaurant owners were reluctant to make special offers to all customers but by making these offers available only for employees in big companies around their restaurant, they saw our service as a new acquisition channel
  • We are now experiencing amazing results (best restaurants receiving up to 50 orders per lunch through our site vs. 5 maximum before) and we need funds to scale!

11/ [Tech] How would you implement “company dedicated offers” in terms of data architectures ? Keep it macro by naming the key tables you could use, most important fields

This question is really optional

  • A company table with “email pattern” field (eg. @societegeneral.fr)
  • A M:N table linking users with a company
  • A M:N table linking companies and restaurant with Special offers (in fact with menu restaurant but it goes too far)

12/ [Management] Your boss comes to see you. He absolutely wants you to implement online payment. On your side, you don’t see the value as back in the beginning of the 2010’s more than 50% of the orders were paid via physical meal vouchers… How would you handle the discussion with him not to implement the feature?

-Hey boss, I have a question to ask you about the online payment feature. Why is it you want to implement this specific feature ? What do you think it would solve as a problem for our users?

-Well, it is pretty straightforward. It will be quicker for the customer.

-But as proved our first iteration, customers are not that interested in time saving?

-But what about the restaurant owner? Don’t tell me he does not want to serve more customers?

-You are definitely right fo restaurant owner. But in the same time our users don’t want to pay online because they would not be able to use their meal vouchers… Perhaps there is another way to address this issue? What about aligning the special offer price of a company on the amount of the voucher meal? Paying would be as simple as giving one’s voucher to the restaurant owner. Instant payment! What do you think of that boss?

-I love it! Go ahead!

13/ [Delivery] One of your main issue is the menu update. Many restaurant owners don’t update their menu with specials of the day preventing users to place their orders. What could you think of to incentive them to update their menu (that would also improve the user experience, which excludes discounts on the price)

You could implement an automatic marketing features that would aggregate and send all specials of the day to customers within a 500 meeters radius from the restaurant. In fact, we developed this feature that worked great, added new channels beyond emailing (Facebook, twitter, website…). At the end, we even launched kind of all-in-one marketing service for small businesses called “a500m.com”. But the economics were still not working…

14/ [Strategy] How could you price such a service? Pros and cons of each.

  • Commission based: more easy to sign restaurants, harder to enroll them to promote our service within their restaurants since they would expect we do the marketing
  • Subscription based: this positions our service more as a tool for the restaurant owner and incites him promoting the service but he might be reluctant to commit several months ahead

15/ [Delivery] We raised founds with Edenred (world leading prepaid services company) who saw our service as a great opportunity to increase the value of his “ticket restaurant” but we still failed to scale our service. According to you why?

To make it short, it was a big mess in term of operations:

  • If too many orders, restaurant was overwhelmed and could not handle the online flow. It would have required to rethink the flow of customers within the restaurant
  • Operations were a nightmare: we had printing machines in each restaurant plugged to the Internet box. They desynchronized frequently and at that time we had no other solutions than come to the restauant and resynchronize them
  • Menu updates became too complex: despite an easy interface, when the number of special offers grew (with different prices for each company), restaurant owner made several mistakes and got mad at the end

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Pierre FOURNIER

Pierre FOURNIER

Tech entrepreneur, Coach, Trainer | Founder @WILL, ex-CPO (Chief Product Officer) at ManoMano, ex Founding Partner at Artefact