Finding Your Edge

No one wants a watered down Tesla

I want to talk about product design and positioning as it relates to Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the race. This is not about her politics (though I was a fan) but her brand as a candidate.

Promoting a political campaign is not unlike marketing a new piece of workout equipment or messaging app or podcast. How do you stand out and grow your audience?

Seth Godin (who we spoke about last time) talks about the idea of edge as “a free prize that has been shown to make a product or service remarkable”

His recommendation for marketers and … Read the rest

How ClearBrain’s CEO Used These 7 Lessons to Create a New Product Category

Bilal Mahmood is cofounder and CEO of ClearBrain, a Y Combinator backed predictive analytics company that’s used by firms like Chime Bank. He’s also a good friend of mine and someone I greatly admire for his resourcefulness and resilience (important traits for any founder!)

Bilal’s company recently launched a product called Casual Analytics that uses a new algorithm that can automatically distinguish causation vs correlation, without running an experiment. I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask him about how they identified the need for this product, what problems they faced building it, and what they’ve learned … Read the rest

Product Insights from Pokémon GO

Unpacking the year’s biggest mobile game sensation

As you probably have heard, Nintendo has partnered with game developer Niantic to launch a wildly popular game for iOS and Android called Pokémon GO. The game has already reached over 21M daily active users, dominated the in-game purchasing market, and players are spending more time in the game than on Facebook. It even stopped traffic in Central Park as players abandoned their cars to chase after a rare water Pokémon that had appeared in the vicinity.

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The Rise and Fall of Product Lines

The natural lifecycle of a product from birth to growth to decay

I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to the growth of certain popular products — both physical and media [1]. The pattern looks like this:

Company Develops a Breakthrough Product

A unique product hits the market. It looks or operates in a way that feels distinct in an important way. It’s aggressively different from other things on the market.

  • iPod: bigger, heavier and more expensive than the tiny mp3 players on the market, but has a solid battery life and a massive amount of storage
  • Vibrams: shoes that look like gorilla feet, but some people swear it gets rid of their knee pain
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Naming Your Company

Choosing a name for your startup or product is a crucial task because it defines the initial expectations and preconceived notions people will have about your thing. It’s easy to pick a bland name, but really try hard to think up a lot of name options and pick something weird, differentiated, and memorable. I’ve turned back to this book again and again for inspiration and reminders on how to develop good names.

About the Author: Eli Altman is the Creative Director of a naming company called A Hundred Monkeys (good name right?) which has worked with startups and Fortune 50 … Read the rest

No Silver Bullets: Etsy’s Randy Hunt on Product Design

While on my Peru trip earlier this year, I read a great book  called Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Products for the Web.

As one of two interaction designers who joined Etsy in 2010, Randy Hunt, now creative director, has written the book on best practices of product development for successful modern-day Internet companies. I highly recommend it.

I sat down with Randy recently to learn more about his perspective on product design. But before I jump into that conversation, here’s a brief look at some of the big ideas from the book:… Read the rest

How to Give Your Product Personality

Making a brand feel alive

There’s a really great post on Fred Wilson’s blog (AVC) about building a “Minimum Viable Personality“. Of course, this is a play on the concept “Minimum Viable Product” from the Lean Startup movement. Fittingly, the post is written by @FAKEGRIMLOCK, a Twitter handle with a lot of personality himself, in his signature tone: “resembling cliched caveman speech”.

(If haven’t read the post yet, you might want to go open it up in a new tab and read it before coming back here. If you’re short on time, the post can be summarized as:

MOST IMPORTANT

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