Hi all, I’ve poked around at posts on Ethereum Magicians for a while now, but think this is my first post. I think I found it through the Gitcoin communty. My interest in it originally was very much related to this post. A few topics / posts that particularly piqued my interest were about product management in crypto as well as business models in crypto, but as I think is evident from this post those are few and far between so I’m glad to see this discussion.
I’ve been a product manager for ~7 years in non-crypto companies and a pretty enthusiastic follower of crypto for ~3 years. About a year ago, I joined a new company to be the product lead on a permissioned blockchain product and am really grateful to have made the jump and am enjoying the work a lot. Since it took some time to make that switch and I got impatient, I started a podcast with a friend of mine who I used to work with and is a fantastic UX designer with experience as a PM as well. I’ll go into the podcast more below. Sharing all of this to give some context on what I share.
My perspective is that we need (and have needed) more non-developers to jump into the fray in order to help crypto succeed. Not too long ago I hear a similar sentiment echoed by folks like Chris Dixon on some a16z podcast. Bringing diverse perspectives and experiences into building products is essential for any type of product, but I’d argue it’s even more critical in crypto. That’s because the technology is even more complicated than in traditional software products.
I’ll highlight a few bright spots in crypto where I think non-developers are being integrated into growing the space, or at least where I think non-technical topics are getting some love.
First is Gitcoin. While definitely quite dev-focused, I think Kevin Owocki (founder of Gitcoin) has done an amazing job growing the project and being vocal about things like business model innovation. Even the way they have developed their community is worth learning about given how critical community development is to open source and crypto product success. As noted already, Gitcoin Quests and their products in general were necessarily focused on devs, but I know they have ambitions to branch out and we’re already starting to see that.
Second is ConsenSys. They technically fund Gitcoin, at least in part, but they have definitely done some great work in the space to promote thinking outside of technical and dev topics. In particular, I think they have done great work in the design space and recommend checking out the ConsenSys Design website as well as their blog posts on design topics.
Third, though not at quite the same level of depth, I’d recommend checking out Chris Remus. He’s an interesting guy who has been pretty vocal about product management in crypto. You can check out blockchainpm.substack.com and his Twitter account @cjremus.
Fourth is a shameless plug for the podcast that I started and co-host with my good friend Nick. We started it because, as a former PM - UX pair trying to make successful products, we wanted to understand how teams in crypto are dealing with the unique challenges of building with this technology on top of all of the typical challenges any team faces when trying to build great products. There are plenty of resources and podcasts (like Epicenter) focused on technical aspects, but few to our knowledge cover the vast space of everything else you need to get right to have a successful product. So we interview founders and builders in the space to get a more holistic view of how they are building products. Several areas we like to focus on are user research, UX / design, testing assumptions and experimentation, how teams organize and manage their day-to-day processes, go-to-market strategies, business models, etc. In fact, the name of the podcast, Fork the Product, is inspired by the concept that in crypto anyone can fork the code of your product, making it really difficult to build sustainable business models.
We completed and have season 1 up already at forktheproduct.com (also on Spotify, Apple, Google and most podcast players) and we’re planning to release season 2 within the next week or so. In season 2, we narrowed the focus to two topics - Non-Fungible Token (NFT) projects and Decentralized Finance (DeFi) projects. We are grateful to have lined up some amazing guests including SuperRare, Compound, OpenSea, Dapper Labs / CryptoKitties, PoolTogether and more. I’d greatly appreciate if anyone here would give us a listen, share, rate, etc., but also reach out with any ideas or feedback for the show! We’re passionate about this stuff and hope this can become a resource for the whole community, and especially for the non-dev / non-technical crypto community.
Sorry for the long post, this topic gets me energized…