Two great reads if you want to understand the nuts and bolts of equity allocation to employees in your startups.

Probably the best VC blogger – Fred Wilson

http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2010/11/employee-equity-how-much.html

Evan Reas has some solid insights on planning equity allocation to employees

http://startuphoodlum.com/2011/01/03/equity-grant-averages-to-startup-employees/

All about Proto.in

January 15, 2009

As we get closer to the Bangalore edition of Proto and the excitement builds up for India’s premier startup event,  here’s an awesome conceptualization about Proto.in by the folks from Pictualize.

Date : Jan 23-24, 2009

Venue: Nimhans Convention Center

Btw, if you haven’t already registered, now’s a good time to do so, go ahead and register now.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I will now be guest blogging for the Product Management View – a blog focussed on product management and strategy , run by world class product managers from various backgrounds and vast experience in this field.I am pleased to be associated with them and look forward to some great discussions over there. Thanks to Stewart Rogers from PM view for making this happen.

My first post for the Product management view is about maximizing product value through effective feature prioritization. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic and having some great conversations.

The PM view also tracks major webinars on product management, you can sign up for a webinar remider service and here’s the handle to the RSS feed.

Understanding spatial search

November 4, 2008

So what is spatial search ?

In today’s context, where the Internet is the starting point for finding any information you need about anything in the world, and of course most of us use Google. The problem with traditional search is that it does not support or have information about the geographical dimension.

Why is spatial search important ?

This becomes extremely important when searching for something like “Guest houses in Bangalore”. Although the geographical location, in this case ‘Bangalore’ can be used as a part of search query term, the search engine does not interpret it as a geographical location.

So results for the search query – “Guest houses in Bangalore” will turn up documents with “Guest houses” and “Bangalore” and might not show up results with guest houses koramangala or indiranagar which are localities in Bangalore and also hence very apt results. This is because, the search engine does not have a relationship between these terms.

The other issue with traditional search in entities like homes is that the geographical information of these locations are not known, and hence they cannot be visualized on a map – which would be the most intuitive way to visualize these results.

While planning and architecting my100floors, we understood the need for Spatial search and helping users visualize home searches on maps. Moreover we felt that that searching for properties on maps was the intuitive way to find properties. In fact, we are the first to provide a map based search in India, cracking the problem of non-availability of geo-coded data.

The next post will talk about our implementation of Spatial search in, challenges we faced and a walk through of the user experience.

property_mapsearchmy100floors.com is currently in closed beta, leave your email address on the site and drop me a line here or on twitter and I will make sure that you get the invite.

To new beginnings!

July 22, 2008

As most of you know, I have finally taken the plunge and decided to join a startup. I will be starting from Monday, 21st July 08 as a Product manager with a stealth mode startup based out of Bangalore.

I am really looking forward to this new gig and am sure that the startup experience is going to be one roller coaster ride with many twists and turns. Above all, I think that it will be a great learning experience for me and can add a lot of value to my career.This somehow seemed to be the perfect time to juggle things up in life and I got a great opportunity.

We have a small team of around 10 people and I am really looking forward to interacting with each of them and for some great times ahead. I will of course miss all the folks from ADITI and the fun we’ve had together.

So here’s to new beginnings, Cheers!

Found this very interesting picture which I think explains user experience and the various elements involved in it in a powerful way.

Image courtesy

What do yout think ? Do all these apply to shaping web user experiences too ? Are there other factors ?

With more and more web products hitting the market everyday, the importance of delivering value to end users through your product has become paramount.

If you are building a product from scratch, prioritization of features becomes the most critical task and this can determine success or failure for your product. Most of us product managers love to add features – customizable user interfaces, changing password, RSS feeds etc. Faced with such a situation, here are questions that I usually like to ask myself

  • Is your feature solving a particular problem of your user segment ?
  • Is the feature adding value to the way your end users solve their problem ?
  • Is feature increasing usability or improving the user experience in the product?
  • Is the feature cracking a technology problem which others have failed to solve ?

Prioritizing features can be quite a daunting task for your entire product team – from product managers to technical architects keeping in mind that you still need to build a great v1.0 and hit the market within time and budget.

Many product companies, especially startups have failed because of this critical reason. 37signals’ Getting real is a great read to understand the dynamics involved in building web products.

So is there any best way to solve the prioritization problem ? Well, there’s a technique that I have been using, some parts inspired from here.

It’s a simple four quandrant technique with two axeses

  • Difficulty of implementation on the X axis – This indicates the time, effort, cost and technology complexity of implementation a particular feature. This ranges from low to high
  • Business Value on the Y axis – This indicates the business value of the feature in terms of revenue, greater user adopting, cost savings etc.

Get your entire product team involved in this exercise, first starting out with a list of all possible features which you can build into the product. Then get the product management/business team to evaluate all the proposed features on their business value. Get the technical team to evaluate the difficulty of implementing each of the features.

Then map the features into the four quadrants as shown above.

  • High business value, Low difficulty level- These are what I call the “Cash cows”. These are features that you would definitely include in your product as they bring maximum value with least effort. No brainer!
  • High business value, High difficulty level – This is the tricky part. These might be your niche features, or features which separate your product from the rest in the segment. These features are strategic investments that you might need to make for the success of your product. Rethink about each of these features and how they can potentially be simplified to move them to the left. Also evaluate features from this category which you want in V1 and push some for V2.
  • Low business value, low difficulty level – These features are straightforward abilities which are present in most of your competing products. Make sure that you don’t add all these features into your product to avoid feature bloat. Think about how you can potentially make simple changes and move them up the value chain. Think about whether these can be monetized in any way and check if you can change the way these features have been implemented by your competitors.
  • Low business value, high difficulty level – These are features that you want to stay away from as they provide very less value.

So, what do you think about the effectiveness of this method ? Let me know the techniques that you have for prioritizing features.

Update: A great read from the Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG) blog on the similar topic and tips for product mangers : Great Products by Design

Physics with some crayon

November 17, 2007

Isn’t this game incredibly cool, check the video below. Looks like you really need to know your physics well to play this one :) This one is from Kloonigames and runs on the tablet PC. A PC version of crayon physics is coming soon.

The user experience on this is incredible, watch how the game reacts as the user draws different figures and tries to achieve their objective. With the Wii and PS3 giving PC games a run for their money, I think innovative concepts like this one are a really good answer.

This makes me wonder about the process of gathering requirements for this game. I’m thinking, there are so many scenarios that need to be captured and then taking a call on which ones the game needs to support and deciding others to be left out. Phew ! It’s actually my dream to do requirements, scenarios and functional specifications for a gaming product. Wouldn’t that be cool :)

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