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What does a Product Manager at a Startup Do?


Hi everyone. My name is Parker Rex and I'm a product manager working in technology. Today I want to go through what I do in a day... And what it means to be a product manager. I'll keep it short and sweet.


For context, I have three different apps that are worked on right now and three different web products.

I feel like product management as a profession is not well-documented. The material online about product management is all over the place in terms of what it could be and what you could do if you get into this.

A lot of articles online will tell you that you're the CEO of the product, that you need to have business chops or technical chops or design chops. And when I say a chop, I just mean a skillset. And it means different things at different companies.

My role is the VP of product at Delivery Dudes. What I do is different than what the VP of product at Lyft or Facebook or Amazon would do, because we're just at a different scale. My explanation covers more of what a product manager does at a startup. I'm spending a ton of time writing.

My role is to figure out:

  • What we're going to build
  • Why we're going to build it.

Those 2 are universal for product roles. Engineers figure out the how. Product folks figure out the what and the why.

Understanding what to build and why to build it is the GOLD.

Most of my time is spent coming up with problems to solve. Einstein talked a lot about planning ahead of excecution. If he had an hour to figure out an answer to something, he'd spend 55 minutes of it, figuring out what the problem was and narrowing in on that. And then five minutes coming up with a solution. Same thing with Abraham Lincoln, he's all about measure twice, cut once. You'd rather spend time sharpening the ax.

einstein quote

I narrow down problems and then use technology to come up with solutions for them. That process requires me to work with designers and engineers or people in an operations team or a sales team. It's a ton of creative thinking. You use product analytics to help guide your decision-making, but it usually starts with the proposal and coming up with narrowing down that problem, coming up with a solution. And then getting everyone's buy-in on it.

Work in product. It'll teach you the skills you need to ruthlessly prioritize what matters most.

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