We recently sat down with Sandboxx CPO, Craig Zingerline, to discuss how we can successfully grow our products and user base. It’s a great chat on what it takes to truly succeed when building products. Sandboxx CPO, Craig Zingerline, and Product Talk host, Thomas Daly, talked all about product growth and why building great products isn’t always enough. You can listen to the full episode above. Otherwise, the highlights are detailed below.
On the importance of focusing on product growth
Chances are you’re going to fail if you don’t make product growth a priority.
“Maybe you’ve been involved in a couple of startups, or you’ve seen friends that have worked with startups, most of the time, they don’t work, they fail … roughly 75% of them fail. When you look at the actual data as to why it is almost never directly related to the product itself. It’s almost never related to the features. We just assume that what we build is really great.
We are engineers, and we’re product managers, and we’re great at building stuff. And we’re great at launching stuff. But unfortunately, what often happens is we spend so much time and energy on that build process. Then the marketing side of it, the growth side of it, and the communication side of is just an afterthought.”
On knowing which features will lead to growth
Product roadmaps are important, but most effective when approached with this level of purpose.
“What we’re looking for is a signal. We know if we can prove that out, then we have a real feature that we put into the product, and we’ve already vetted the demand. When we get that feature built into the product, that demand is going to spike. Those key metrics are going to improve, almost guaranteed”
On how to build teams for product growth
Building product teams is as important as building products. Here’s a model for doing it to focus on product growth.
“One of the most effective team structures is the Independent Structure. You have a set of operators who are growth people. This would include a growth Product Manager or a Head of Growth, data scientists, growth engineers, maybe a growth researcher, and maybe a growth UX design person. They’re just allowed to do basically whatever they want.”
On what makes a great product manager
This is great advice for any great product managers about to do a job interview.
“I think intellectual curiosity is probably the top thing that I look for. So if you come in, and you can tell me about what you’re reading, where you’re going, where you’re hanging out. Are you hanging out in communities like this? DO you listen to podcasts? How do you approach challenges with growth and product development? Those indicators of that intellectual curiosity, to me, often mean that the candidate is maybe going to be less a little bit less rigid in their thinking about how to approach problems in a high growth environment where you really don’t really know what’s going to happen.
There’s a lot of chaos and ambiguity, in terms of the model. Maybe you’re pivoting and shifting models, the market changes. There are all these things that are going to cause stress. I think what you want, especially in the early earlier days, is somebody that has some flexibility in how they’re gonna approach that at scale.”
About the speaker
Craig Zingerline is currently the Chief Product Officer at Sandboxx, which is a media and technology company with a purpose to connect the military community. He is a multi-time founder with a deep background in technology, product management, and B2B/B2C marketing & growth. Craig excels at building and running teams and has been a founding or early member of 6 startups, including being involved in two successful exits.
About the host
Thomas Daly is Principal Product Manager at Samsung NEXT leading zero to one initiatives. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Product Officer for Spacious.com, which was later acquired by The We Company (WeWork). Before that, Daly was at Samsung Electronics by way of an acquisition of BOXEE, a TV-connected streaming device. He has worked in various product roles for nearly 15 years.