AMA Notes: “Every business is a mathematical function. Master the variables and you are golden.” [with Shashank Mehta of Razorpay]

NextBigWhat’s Wednesday AMAs have now become quite a fixture, with some absolute stars of the product and growth community making themselves available to answer a flurry of in-depth questions and queries on topics ranging from growth & analytics to product management.

In the week prior to this, we had Deepak Abbot, VP of Product @ Paytm share key insights on what makes the growth tick at Paytm & much more.

And in this week’s AMA, we had the pleasure of hosting Shashank Mehta, Director of Product Strategy at Razorpay to talk about Product Management career and had an extremely lively conversation.

The NextBigWhat AMA is supported by the awesome team @GOJEK. GOJEK is hiring great engineers and product leaders for its India offices (checkout the openings here).

Here are few excerpts from the AMA:

How does Razorpay defines product roadmaps? As head of product strategy, what framework do you use to decide on the roadmap?

We follow annual targets in the form of OKRs and quarterly roadmap. Process is largely what I’m describing below. It’s tough to cover all the nuances on the go but I’ll call out some key aspects

  • Information Gathering
    One of the advantages of B2B over B2C is that clients are very vocal with their requirements. Our PMs go on a lot of client meetings to get first hand understanding of what is needed. We also conduct brainstorming sessions with our sales team, account management team, support team etc. since they are client facing.
  • Evaluating ideas
    Key thing to handle in this stage is the non-asks of customers and also going deeper into what exactly the client wants. Our job isn’t to churn out features on the basis of direct customer asks. We then estimate the impact and effort of the ideas.
    These ideas are also looked at from the annual goals perspective. The annual goals are in themes with measurable targets. Four themes we are currently chasing: growing our core business, diversifying our revenue, improving customer experience and improving sustainability.
  • Strategic focus
    At Razorpay we like to take a long term horizon view of things too. That’s how RazorpayX and Razorpay Capital came out. For these kind of projects we follow an extremely quick prototype and test ideas approach wherever possible post market study. RazorpayX v1 was launched in 45 days and Razorpay Capital MVP was launched in a couple of weeks. These kind of projects follow their own planning and a rapid action team is created for experimenting.

 I am an engineer with ~8 years of work experience. How do you think I should go about switching to a product manager function?

One of the most important behavioral aspect of PM is ownership and taking responsibilities. Being an engineer, I’m guessing you would be seeing customer issues/asks etc. Can you take up some of these? Maybe go to customer meetings to understand their asks and write the concept note that a PM can take forward? Go through support tickets to see if you can identify some issues that you can go deeper on as a PM?

Basically simply standup an start acting as a PM. In great orgs this should work well.

I was an engineer at Razorpay for 2 years before I moved into product management (I was the first PM at Razorpay). My movement into PM happened because I was doing almost everything a PM does without the company asking me to. And when the need was felt to add PMs, it was extremely easy for me to take it up full time.

What are the ideal few things a Product Manager should do at a new firm?

Every business is a mathematical function. Master the variables and you are golden.

Eg: A super simplified example
Rate of growth of revenue for Netflix = (rate of growth of new users – rate of churn) x pricing

It’s your standard mathematical form of f(g(x)), really.

So I strongly recommend understanding the levers of growth of the company you have joined. Then look at things from this lens. Things like vision, customers, features etc.

Another thing I recommend is to understand the reason why every job role exists in the company. Why is there an account management team? Why is there a digital marketing manager? What are their KRAs? This will give you a crash course on what matters for the company and why.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. So I have tried to cover some not so usual models that I like!

[Read the rest here]

If you are getting into Product Management, do apply for the upcoming cohort of NextBigWhat’s Product Management Course.

Aside, the next AMA is scheduled for Wednesday — go ahead and join the community of DOERs and stay

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