Introduction

Scaling product for the global market doesn’t come easy. False assumptions of cross-market needs and flubbed product adaptations have been the death of many a product. So how can product leaders lay the groundwork from the beginning in order to scale a product successfully? Mighty Capital Sr. Manager Adam O’Donnel sits down with Canela Media CEO Isabel Rafferty Zavala to discuss their recent funding from Mighty Capital, trends in digital media, and how to scale product for global markets.
We start December off with a very special episode of Product Talk. This week, we welcome Isabel Rafferty Zavala, CEO of Canela Media, who recently closed a round with funding from Mighty Capital, one of our sponsors for the upcoming 2021 Product Awards. In a discussion with Mighty Capital Sr. Manager Adam O’Donnell, they dig into the nuances of product scalability for global markets. As the CEO of the first media streaming service for Latina audiences, Isabel’s insights are invaluable for product leaders learning how to scale product globally.

On their recent funding from Mighty Capital

First and foremost, a hearty congratulations to both Mighty Capital and Canela Media on their funding engagement! As they begin their discussion, Isabel expresses the importance of finding investors who carry deep knowledge of product geared towards global scalability.

“Well, we were in a great situation when we were raising capital because we got more investment than we expected. So it allowed us to be very selective with who we brought on board in this round. One key element we wanted was a very diverse group of media investors because our business is fully funded by advertising our app.”

“There were a few things that attracted us to Mighty Capital. First of all, they’re amazing people, incredible to work with and very, very knowledgeable in product. Mostly, though, they fill that void in knowledge of how to scale product. That’s very important as we’re a product, and we need to be able to scale successfully. So, everything that is tech and product-focused, that’s what Mighty Capital brings in.”

“I think there were 11 people we were working through the whole process, and they each brought different values and a deep knowledge of product. They understood our industry very quickly, Also, [Mighty Capital Managing Partner and Products That Count Founder] SC Moatti is becoming one of our board members. Her deep knowledge of products is going to really help us scale this app very quickly.”

On what makes a great product

If you’re a regular listener of Product Talk, you know that this is one of our favorite questions to ask our guests. With digital innovation running at light speed, discovering the best methods to create a great product is a life-long pursuit of product leaders. According to Isabel, it all starts with understanding the customer while fulfilling a need.

“Personally, I think great products come with a deep understanding of who they’re serving, and by understanding the benefits you are bringing to that audience. Sometimes products are built without really thinking who they’re going for, simply hoping they find an audience. I think a good product starts with understanding. You have to deeply understand the audience, where their pain points are, and where there’s an opportunity to really help fill a void.”

“Another key thing, and it sounds silly but it’s crucial, is stability of the product and infrastructure. You can have a wonderful idea, but if the user experience stability isn’t there, it’s going to be very difficult to scale a product. Also, the goal should be global, so even though you have a focused audience, that audience can be found anywhere. So scalability in a product is key.

“Finally, don’t try to solve all the problems in one product. Find something that will make you unique, but remember that there has to be value in it. Then, be the best in that specific area.”

On how to scale product globally

Customers are unique, even if they share a commonality. While that may seem like a simple concept, many products fail based on errors in assumptions. As they continue, Isabel shares her thoughts on why product success may not reflect across different markets.

“Before I even start a product, I already think global. From the creation of that product, you have to think about scalability. It cannot be an afterthought.”

“From my experiences, I think it’s very difficult to start a product focused on one market and then try to adapt that product. So, flexibility and versatility is needed. If it’s going to be global, make sure it connects with old technologies and can be quickly adapted. Also, think about language and cultural relevance within different markets. Make sure you can quickly change the language within the platform.”

“In our case, yes, we’re targeting Latinos, but Latinos are very different. We cannot assume that if we’re in the US reaching Latinos, and then we grow into Latin America, that the same product will fit the same needs. That’s not the case. Consider even the language. Yes, it’s Spanish, but the way we say words is different and cultural cues are different. We have to take that into account and not assume.”

“In the case of content, we also have to think of the different markets. In the US, we have content that can do very well for Latinos. However, the Latino in Mexico is different from the second-generation Latino in the US. So, you have to do your research per market, and although it’s tempting to think it’s the same audience, you cannot assume. You really have to understand that specific audience in that market to be able to have a successful product.”

Speaker: Isabel Rafferty Zavala
Host: Adam O’Donnell

About the speaker
Isabel Rafferty Zavala Canela Media, CEO Member

Isabel Rafferty Zavala is the CEO and Founder of Canela Media, one of the first digital streaming services for Latino audiences. An experienced CEO with a demonstrated history in the marketing and advertising industry, she previously held the role of CEO and Founder of Mobvious Media, where her business development skills in digital strategy and mobile technology helped it to become #1 in Comscore for digital reach amongst Hispanic audiences. Prior, she was VP at Adsmovil USA, a leader in the AD tech space, and Director of Digital National Sales at Impremedia. She is a graduate of CSU San Marcos and a regular convention speaker.