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Talks Tech #29: Quick Guide to Product Management in Web3

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Written by Mara MatosicDecember 28, 2022

Mara Matosic, Product Strategist and Recovering Co-founder and Legacy Director of Women Who Code Mexico City, shares “Product Management in Web3.” She talks about her insights into how Web3 is changing the face of product management and how it allows for real-time feedback and interactions with users.

I am a firm believer that knowledge sharing is one of the building blocks of human civilization. The insights I'm sharing today are from the perspective of product management. I don't think there are enough conversations about how product teams can go into Web3. However, the insights I share today can be applied to any company, not only Web3 companies. I am a product strategist. I've worked for big corporations and startups and eventually co-founded my own company and exited it. I have always looked for belonging. I thought that was something only I did, but I finally learned that humanity is looking for belonging at some point. 

I have found that through the community. The community has always been vital to me. I have been drawn to Web3 because of that. Many say product management is like being the mini CEO of the product. Some conversations say product management started with software and digital products. I don't believe that to be true. For example, we have Lee Iacocca, a car executive back in the '60s through the '80s and '90s. He was the creator of the Ford Mustang. 

He also created agile manufacturing and Kanban systems, which sounds familiar to product managers and engineers. I think product management has been there longer than the web has been. Web1 and, especially, Web2 define what product managers are or coined product managers. We have people like Sundar Pichai, who started as a Product Manager of Innovation at Google. He is now the CEO of Alphabet, who's Google's parent company.

We saw those same product managers become founders in around 2010. Since you're the mini CEO of a product, why not become your company's founder and CEO? We are at an inflection point, and it's full of opportunities to reshape our roles as product managers, not only in Web3 but also if you work for a Web2 company. Web3 is a term to reflect the evolution of the world wide web. Web1 was when the world wide web started. It was more when static pages existed. Think Encyclopaedia Britannica online. Web1 was reading. 

Eventually, we got into Web2, which is reading and writing. Instead of consulting the knowledge in the encyclopedia Britannica, you get Wikipedia, where you can read and write. You can share knowledge. This created social networks, social media, podcasting, blogging, et cetera. Now, we are in Web3, where you can read and write and own the chunk of the web you're interacting with. 

We have things like NFTs, Defi, DAOs, et cetera. That has made product management a little bit different than what we did before. I’m sharing three insights: road mapping in public, fluid user conversation, and the minimum lovable community. Road mapping is the daily bread of product management. It means having a plan of where the product will go, what features you will implement, and when this will happen. It's a private document that you have inside the company. It's for internal stakeholders. It gives you a competitive advantage over your competition. 

Think about when Snapchat started with stories; eventually, when it was public, other companies copied that. I know we have been familiar with this term of building in public for the past couple of years now, where people share what they are making on Twitter or on other outlets. Then they share the milestones. Up till now, companies and product managers didn't share their roadmap but the next milestone. In Web3, this is something that practically every company does.

The second insight is a fluid user conversation. What have we been doing up to this point in Web2? You have frequent user conversations. Big companies have their user research teams or their data teams. Others have focus groups. Other teams base their decisions on ratings or social media. You get the information where you can. What happens between this focus group and the next one? Is the person you talk to in this focus group pleased about your decisions with the product? 

You don't know that because in the next focus group, maybe that person is not there. What is happening in Web3 is interesting. I'm calling this a fluid user conversation. When you think of fluid, you think of a wave and water. It comes and goes, but it's always there. It's a constant. This is what is happening in Web3. You can hear, you can read, you can see, and you can interact all the time with your users. As product managers, it's easy to forget that the user needs to be at the center of our attention. In Web3, that is not so easily forgotten. 

My third and final insight is the minimum lovable community. You have heard about MVPs, which is the Minimum Viable Product. The minimum viable product is the simplest possible prototype for your product. It's a low-fidelity product that will allow you to test your riskiest assumption. For example, DoorDash started in Palo Alto and the universities. They didn't launch the entire product. They found a website where they pasted photos of the restaurant's menus. They let you pay there. They did the driving themselves and just called the restaurants to ask for the food and pick it up. That would be the MVP.

They tested the riskiest assumption test, which was that people were willing to pay for someone to drive their food and were willing to do it online through a website. Eventually, they built what had to be the minimum lovable product. The minimum lovable product, which is a term that, if I'm not mistaken, Amazon coined, doesn't need to have all of the features that you have in your roadmap or your backlog. The ones you launch need to be perfect so the user will be in love with your product.

How does this translate to Web3? Web3 is heavily based on community. How can you make a minimum viable community into a minimum lovable one? Taking the example of DoorDash and how they went from MVP to MLP, I'd like to show you this example of Invisible College. Invisible College is a community. It's a learning DAO. A DAO is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization. This is for Web3 curious people. They launched it first on Twitter. They announced it on Twitter. Twitter was their minimum viable community. Once they got traction there, they found the NFT, which served as a token to get you into the actual DAO, which is hosted in a Discord server. This is the same path now with communities because the community has become very important. You can see here where my curiosity for Web3 and my love of it has been. 

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