The Future Favors the Fearless

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At Galvanize, we’re putting a whole new spin on Study Hall with monthly, members-only sessions. At every Study Hall, industry all-stars present on one of three topics –– growth, funding, or product –– and collaborate with Galvanizers to spur innovation, solve problems, and harness the power of our dynamic startup community.

PJ Tanzillo has a big job. By title, he’s the Head of Consumer Products for Favor. In practice, he oversees product management, offers marketing direction, keeps an eye on finances, and supports the whole operations business. We were lucky to receive some of his best practices for product development during our Product Study Hall in Austin.

Favor had the unique opportunity to get in early to one of the most exciting tech industries. And with any new, thriving industry, they quickly become very competitive. Two ways Favor has been able to set themselves apart is through product road mapping and rapid iteration.

At the beginning of each year, the Favor leadership team sits down to imagine what the world is going to look like the following December. Two open-ended questions they ask themselves include:

  1. “What big problems no longer exist today, and what new big problem is the world going to be facing in the future?”
  2. “What would winning X market look like?”

They debate these topics and come to an agreement on a common vision that is specific enough to be directional. This is where the product road mapping begins.

A list of features is prepared in a large spreadsheet with common terminology and a clear measurement rubric. This allows any emotion to be removed from the priorities and makes it a pure numbers game. When the leadership team arrives at a consensus, they assign a “T-shirt Size” for the team and timeline required (small = one person for a couple of days / large = a few people for a couple of months.) As plans are shared with the larger Favor team, the year is broken into quarterly sprint plans. Every two weeks the sprint is evaluated and resources are adjusted.

Once the feature is in place, the effectiveness is judged by results, not the elegance of the process. In the highly competitive market of on-demand goods, it’s important to measure as much as possible, but not to be overly cautious. Getting stuck fixing a minor bug could ultimately have a much bigger impact on your business — failing to iterate on your product and evolve into what’s next.

Many attendees saw immense value in PJ’s advice for 2017 product road mapping and rapid product iteration. From early-stage entrepreneurs to established founders, Galvanize Members at every stage of their careers will benefit from the insights shared at our Study Halls.

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