Some of the lessons I've learned on how to build products customers love

Over the last 6 years I’ve been building products @segment. This week we announced we’re being acquired by @twilio for $3.2B

A :thread: on some of the lessons I’ve learned on how to build products customers love (and the stories of the incredible peeps that made it happen)


1/ solving customer problems > grand visions :eyes:

The founders @ivolo @calvinfo @reinpk @ianastormtaylor early failures to find PMF created a culture of “I’ll believe it when I see customers loving it”

We spent less time on vision quests, and lots of time talking to customers

2/ your customers already built your roadmap :world_map:

In 2014 @reinpk went on a now-legendary NYC customer tour. He found teams were building the same ETL jobs to AWS Redshift again and again. It was the spark that became Warehouses & Cloud Sources products

Unroll available on Thread Reader

Most of our major product launches (Cloud Sources, Functions, Personas, Protocols, Data Lakes) were the productized versions of things we saw customers hacking together

Early adopters like @KyleGesuelli @far33d @hawkinsjon prototyped our roadmap long before we could

3/ building the product is only half the battle :chart_with_upwards_trend:

Great products solve customer problems and have a clear go-to-market strat

Product teams need to think about margin, positioning, pricing, how to demo, onboarding, incentives, financial targets for their products

e.g. Personas and Protocols prod teams spent 12mo after launch working with customers, sales, support, partners…writing sales playbooks, case studies, roadshows, webinars

@dougroberge @AndySchumeister @verdantblue showed us how product go-to-market is as impt as what you build

4/ when in doubt, bias for action :comet:

@ilya and @alex taught me that there are really only two types of product decisions:

(a) decisions where more data => better decisions
(b) decisions that are unknowable before you make em

go get the data on (a) and have conviction on (b)

5/ talk about the elephants :elephant:

a fast-growing company is an emotional pendulum between “this is gonna work” and “we’re so screwed”. It can be scary to talk about the latter

@DianaHSmith made it cool to talk about the elephants in the room, a must-read:

The Elephant in the Room :elephant: She isn’t so scary after all

6/ great products are the creations of high-trust, high-context teams :dancing_women:

Prod, Eng, Design are collectively responsible for shipping great products. You can’t build products without mutual trust, a ton of shared context and a culture that makes everyone feel welcome

There is nothing more powerful than an empowered team that trusts each other to do their best work

@hareemmannan @kamebkj @yeoa @danielstjules @osamakhn @webaficionado have been incredible team builders and partners over the years

7/ product models matter :art:

there is an invisible force called your “product model” that guides every decision you make. Product models are really hard to change later because everything relies on it, from your db table names to marketing copy

You need to be deliberate about your product model from the beginning and forward-design where you want to go

@sperandio and @anthonyshort are the best in the game here and were deliberate in shaping the Segment’s product model early on

9/ TWMDW :sloth:

Team work makes the dream work. There is no one person or moment that has defined Segment, but the collective hard work of hundreds of talented people

Proud of the products we’ve shipped but 100x more so of the team and friendships