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Product Hunt Radio

A Technology and Business podcast
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Product Hunt Radio is a a weekly podcast with the people creating and exploring the future. Tune in every week with Ryan Hoover and Abadesi Osunsade as they're joined by founders, investors, journalists, and makers to discuss the latest in tech.


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Early days at Facebook and advice for pitching VCs with Mike Vernal
On this episode Abadesi talks to Mike Vernal, partner at Sequoia, the legendary venture capital firm. They are celebrating their scout program turning a decade old. Mike shares stories about the early days at Facebook, transitioning to VC, and advice for founders seeking funding.In this episode they talk about...Why the culture at Facebook in the early days was so special“People self-consciously avoided ever saying they managed someone else at Facebook. It was frowned upon for people to try to assert authority in that way. It was actually far more common for people to say that they ‘support’ teams within an org.”Mike gives a rundown of his career in tech, including working at Microsoft and Facebook. He says that he started as an engineer instead of a product manager, but eventually would work as a product manager despite being labelled an engineer. He talks about what it was like working at Facebook in the early days and how he worked on some of the key products that he worked on at that time that you probably use today.“For people earlier in their careers, you probably have to pick one function to start with, but being able to move between functions fluidly is incredibly valuable.”Going from product manager to VC“It’s surprising just how similar life as a product manager at Facebook is to being a board member at an early stage company.”He says that when he started at Facebook, the aim was for every new hire to have deployed at least one line of code to the live site in their first week. This was a significant departure from how software was typically developed and was definitely a stark contrast from his time at Microsoft, where a piece of software would be worked on for years before being sold in a box in stores. He says that he did deploy his line of code in the first week at Facebook, but it took the site down, so he had to come back early from lunch to fix the site to get it back up. He gives his advice for people who want to advance their careers in tech, talks about how he was introduced to Sequoia through partner Bryan Schreier, and explains why being a product manager is similar to the work he does today at Sequoia.What founders need to know about pitching VCs“I don’t think you should do anything because investors ask for it. That is probably a waste of time, but you should try to figure out why people are asking these questions and what is the kernel of truth or insight that they are trying to get to.”Mike talks about some of the common mistakes that people make when they pitch VCs, including why so many people find a random market size number on the internet and put it in their pitch deck. He talks about why investors ask the questions that they do and what the difference between a good product and a good business is. He also explains why he prefers that monetization be baked into the product, not bolted on as an afterthought once a company or product achieves a critical mass.Trends Mike is excited about, including the no-code revolution“When we talk about the community of professional software developers in the world, it’s stark just how small it is. It’s somewhere on the order of 20-30 million people around the world. When I think about Excel, it and its brethren probably have a billion users around the world and really Excel is a programming environment.”He talks about the scout program at Sequoia, why founders should consider a scout as an investor, and some of the benefits that scouts bring. Mike talks about the importance of the no-code movement that has come about in the last few years, and how it is opening up the high-leverage tools formerly reserved for developers to a wider range of people.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸
Bootstrapping nine businesses to millions in revenue with Marcus Taylor
On this episode Abadesi talks to Marcus Taylor, founder of Venture Harbour, a digital product company based in the UK. They’ve launched nine companies in the last few years and have grown them to millions in revenue. He is also the youngest patron of The Prince’s Trust youth charity and has committed £100,000 to support young entrepreneurs across the UK.In this episode they talk about...The business philosophy at Venture Harbour“We built a WYSIWYG form editor for ourselves initially and put it out there to see if other people found it useful. This is how a lot of our ventures happen. We’re working on one venture and we discover a problem and solve that problem and it’s like, okay, new venture!”Marcus explains how he got started with Venture Harbour. He was working at a digital marketing agency out of school and was building side projects. Those side projects started earning him more in revenue than he earned from his salary, so those projects became Venture Harbour. He explains how they approach building an audience for their products, and why they don’t “buy audiences.” He explains the power of content marketing and why they invest so many hours in creating the very best content for a particular topic, as well as the tools and strategies they use to find the most impactful pieces of content to create.How the team works together“Often we will build these hacked versions of ventures keeping the team very small, and then it over time as that venture matures, we start assigning more people and building teams around those ventures.”He explains the in-the-weeds details of how they actually get things done at Venture Harbour, and how he thinks about his role of head of product at the company. He explains how he tries to facilitate and coach to get the most out of the team, and why nailing their vision and values has been so important for them — something that you may not necessarily think of as pragmatic but has really helped with the day-to-day at Venture Harbour.Some of the unconventional views Marcus holds“I started Venture Harbour with 500 quid in my bank and a broken laptop. We've never raised any money for any of the ventures. I find so many friends in the startup world spend so much time messing around with cap tables and pitch decks and high-fiving each other when they raise money. I believe so strongly that if you had spent that time listening to the customers and letting your customers be your investors, you'd be in a far better position.“Marcus explains why bootstrapping is his preferred way to build companies, and says that it is in fact a more sustainable way to build a business than raising venture capital. He also talks about his leadership style and how he uses coaches to get the most out of his work. He also explains why he likes to read books slowly, why he doesn’t have social media, and more.How he thinks about personal development“You’ve got primary books, where the book should have been 2,000 pages but it had to be condensed down to 300 pages. Then you’ve got secondary books — most business books fall into this. They are extrapolating stuff and applying it to a concept. And then you’ve got tertiary books, which are more storytelling and anecdotal.”He runs through the strategies he uses to make sure he is always getting better as a maker and manager. He explains his method of categorizing books and how he decides which to read and which to only read the summary. He also talks about overnight conferences and why he seems to get the most out of those types of gatherings. Marcus also talks about how he used the tips from the book *Getting To Yes *by Robert Cialdini as part of his wedding planning.Of course, he also talks about some of his favorite products.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸Companies and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeLeadformly — Capture 3X more leads with high converting Leadforms.LessPhone — The app that won’t let you use your phone.Light Phone— Phone designed to be used as little as possible.Serene — The macOS app to get your focus back.Status Hero — Automated stand-ups, reports, and insights.
Why it doesn’t have to be crazy at work with David Heinemeier Hansson
On this episode Abadesi talks to David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder and CTO of Basecamp, and creator of Ruby on Rails. He is also the author of several bestselling books, including It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work, co-authored with his co-founder at Basecamp, Jason Fried.In this episode they talk about...Why you should think about your company as a product“This idea that the company itself is changeable — the policies of the company, the values of the companies — are things you can tweak and you can iterate on in much the same way as you would iterate on a product. The process is quite similar to when you put a product into the market and you get feedback from customers.”He tells the story of building Basecamp outside traditional tech hubs and how that influenced the culture at the company. He says that it’s important to build from first principles and to have control over the company you’re building. He talks about their values at Basecamp and how to think about and get feedback from employees on how the company needs to change and evolve. He also points out that you always need to be thinking about improving not just your product, but also your entire philosophy and way of doing business.Why we need new role models in tech“We've gone from everyone thinking the greatest thing in the world would be to be Mark Zuckerberg and to have Facebook to far more people now thinking, actually I don't want Facebook, I don't want Facebook's problems, I don't want to be Mark Zuckerberg. I think if we can start by having a takedown of the past idols, we can start building up some healthier models of what we should try to emulate instead.”David says that we need a new vocabulary in the tech industry. He lists a number of different words, from unicorn to angel to battlefield, that inaccurately describe the actual function or intent of that entity. He says that it’s easy to excuse unethical actions if we believe that we are actually at war in a startup. He also talks about why “small is not a stepping stone” for your company and breaks down why the obsession with growth has led people astray.How to break the cycle of overwork“We can live such better fuller, richer lives if we just stopped believing that the most worthy thing we can do is to give every waking hour and moment to the business. That's actually not good for business. If you were just trying to create the most efficient business, you would not come up with this regime of chaining people to the office.”He explains why you shouldn’t think about your co-workers as your family, and examines some of the current scourges of modern workplaces, like the open-plan setup. He also points out that Henry Ford realized a long time ago that people cannot work for more than forty hours a week without seeing a huge drop-off in efficiency, so it would make sense not to not push employees harder than that today.A new way of working“It doesn't work to constantly puncture and slice up the day [with meetings and standups]. So you should be extremely cautious about when you put things on many people's calendar. When we do instead is we encourage people to share where they are at [on a project] in an asynchronous way where someone can choose to digest that and respond to that on their time.”David talks about the current practices prevalent at most workplaces that result in people not getting things done, and how they can be improved on. He talks about the unique approach to meetings, standups, deadlines, and presentations that they have at Basecamp and how they have increased retention. He says that it’s a misconception that people are born superstars and says that high-quality talent is more akin to a tree, that you cultivate, rather than a “diamond” that you find.Of course, they also talk about some of his favorite products as well.We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸Companies, Books, and Products Mentioned In This EpisodeBreatheSmart Air Purifier — Stylish and effective air purifier.It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier HanssonOura Ring — Advanced sleep and fitness tracker.Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
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Podcast Details
Apr 13th, 2014
Latest Episode
Nov 6th, 2019
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About 1 hour

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