One PM’s product can look drastically different from another. That’s one reason why we have a passion for product management; the scope of the community and digital product itself is diverse and far-ranging. This week on Product Talk, we welcome JourneyApps CPO Kobie Botha to the mic, for a discussion with Mighty Capital on reasoning with first principles and the specificities of product management for developer platforms.

Scroll down for the highlights of this week’s product conversation, catch the full episode above, and subscribe below to Product Talk on iTunes and Spotify.



On the value of JourneyApps to Product Managers

“So, we’re focused on product managers that are building powerful business apps. Meaning, if you’re building business software, either b2c or b2b products, or if you’re building products used by employees or customers, that’s where our value lies.”

“Our product basically acts as a force multiplier for the innovation initiatives of product managers in the developer space. A lot of companies have great ideas, but no one to execute on them. We help alleviate that constraint by taking care of a lot of mundane tasks that developers usually spend their time on. That way, companies can focus on innovative initiatives instead of reinventing the wheel.

“What’s really interesting is we’re creating a new category of product, which does not exist today. We don’t try to compete with anyone directly as we take a fundamentally different approach, but we are getting compared with big players out there like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.”

On what makes a great product

A product manager is faced with hundreds of decisions each and every day. Hopefully, each answer leads to an end result of a great product. Kobie shares his take on our favorite question to ask product leaders.

“As a product manager, you’re going to read a lot of books , you’re going to get a lot of advice from advisors, relive articles, etc. But at the end of the day, you have to synthesize all of that information and apply it to your unique circumstance. I think first principles reasoning is the best tool that you have available for figuring out what the right decision is.”

On reasoning from a first principles approach

“One of the goals of first principles reasoning is to understand the axioms and the constraints. You kind of want to peel back the layers, get rid of all the noise, and figure out what is immutable and what is mutable. Let’s use gravity as an example. You’re not going to change gravity, which makes it a constraint, so there’s no point in treating it as a variable.

Once you identify the absolute constraints, that makes decision making a lot easier because it removes variables out of your control. First, you have to peel off the layers of the decision you need to make until you have x, which you don’t have control over. Then, figure out the things you do have control over. That’s reasoning from first principles.

About the speaker
Kobie Botha JourneyApps, Chief Product Officer Member

Kobie Botha is the Chief Product Officer at JourneyApps. He started out in the aerospace sector where he designed, constructed and maintained a multi-million dollar broadband communications payload that was launched into space. He then spent two years modeling marine ecosystems using machine learning algorithms to further our understanding of climate as a driver on sardine and anchovy populations in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Previously, Kobie co-founded a cybersecurity startup specialising in multi-factor authentication, that was acquired by ESET, a global cybersecurity company.