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August 26, 2021
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Today, we're sharing advice from a serial PM turned first-time founder. He tackles all the thorny early product challenges, from PMF and MVPs, to segmentation and spinning up second product lines.

8 Product Hurdles Every Founder Must Clear — This PM-Turned-Founder Shares His Playbook

Hurdles in a line on a track

Narrowing in on a market and finding the right customer. Building out the first version of the product. Teaching yourself how to bring it to market. Trying not to get lost on the journey to product/market fit. Sticking to a consistent vision, even as you eye new markets and product ideas.

These are just a few of the challenges that pave the path of the PM-turned-founder. Ryan Glasgow knows it well. He started his career as the founding product manager at five different startups, including Vurb (later acquired by Snapchat) and Weebly (later acquired by Square).

In 2018, he left the life of a serial early-stage PM behind and set out to build the tool he’d always wanted. As the founder and CEO of Sprig (formerly UserLeap), Glasgow and his team have created an all-in-one product research platform that helps PMs, user researchers, and growth marketers launch microsurveys, test concepts, and conduct video interviews to uncover customer insights faster.

As seed supporters of Sprig (and avid users of their product — you've likely spotted our micro-survey at the bottom of this very newsletter), we here at First Round have had an inside look at this product’s journey from a PM’s idea on paper to a tool that’s used by more than 500 customers like Dropbox, Adobe, and Loom.

In this exclusive interview, Glasgow takes us through that trajectory, tackling the tough questions product builders face in every stage of getting a startup off the ground, from segmentation and MVPs, to product/market fit and second products. (Read on for a quick preview of his takeaways below.)


As always, thanks for reading and sharing!

-The Review editors

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Sneak preview of the advice:

Hurdle #3: How can I validate my idea? How should I approach early customer conversations? “One of the key learnings I had early on is to never involve people who you personally know in the customer development process. I really wanted to test and validate whether this was worth working on by seeing if people who I didn't know were willing to spend time with me to help co-create and develop this product.”

Hurdle #5: How can I incorporate feedback and quickly iterate on my early product?  “I treat customer development as a one-on-one with a direct report — you just want to ask the hard questions. If your team isn't able to ask the tough questions, then why are you there? Why are you spending all of your time on this product if you don't even know if it's worth your time?”

Hurdle #6: I haven't hit product market/fit yet — what am I getting wrong? “Founders should recognize the difference between validating product/market fit and discovering product/market fit. If you're only validating whether or not you have product/market fit, it could cost you years of testing a hypothesis and only measuring your solution.”

Hurdle #7: I have a couple of customers, but I really need to figure out founder-led sales. “Always let them know the decision they need to make at the end of the meeting. It’s called submarining — you're breaking up this long, really big decision into mini decisions. You never want to create this situation where a prospect feels like they have to make this big decision on the spot.”

Trending this week — Review Reads:

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Repeat founder Waseem Daher pays particular attention to Pilot’s first year — including validating the idea, choosing an ICP, and outlining the product roadmap.
How to Craft Your Product Team at Every Stage, From Pre-Product/Market Fit to Hypergrowth
Nikhyl Singhal shares the phases a product org goes through as a startup matures — and his tips for transitioning between them gracefully. 
Making Self-Care Tactical — Why You Should Focus on Boundaries, Not Just Bubble Baths
Therapist Minaa B. shares her detailed guide to deeper self-care work, pushing back against common myths, offering up tactical advice and making the case for focusing on boundaries.

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