The hardest thing about going from 0–1 is not building something, it’s getting people to care about your product. A successful go-to-market will create and amplify interest in using your product among your target customers. Without that, you don’t have a business.

Go-to-market generally refers to everything about how a product is positioned, packaged, marketed, and sold. However, the choices we make when building a product determine how we can sell it, for what price, and how effective our tactics will be.

The goal of this guide is to provide a concrete, human behavior-centered overview of how to build a sellable product. Each section ends with questions you can bring back to your team to help you figure out how to build a product you can sell. …


I love to invest in workplace collaboration products because solving problems at work is such a fertile space. Successful products grow like traditional consumer products but have similar retention to traditional enterprise products. A compelling brand and the associated virtuous cycle of earned media coverage are very important to topline growth, as is the overall product quality — just like consumer companies. Founders building collaboration products have to do two of the hardest things known to startups: design for easy growth, and create deep product value.

These two forces determine a company’s product growth potential — whether a company can develop quick, lasting growth. I’ve plotted some of today’s most notable collaboration startups against these axes. …


The last decade has seen the rise of workplace collaboration and productivity as a valuable SaaS category. The success of companies like Slack, Zoom, and Atlassian in challenging the dominance of Microsoft and Google’s productivity suites accounts for part of this interest, but the rise of remote and distributed teams is the most important secular shift driving the trend. Zapier published a report on remote work which found that 74% of American knowledge workers would quit their jobs to work remotely. Since only 3% of American workers in 2017 worked from home, there’s a huge, aspirational gap between today and the future of work. …


Announcing Lightspeed’s investment in Magic Spoon

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Every morning I get up, make a coffee, and eat a bowl of Magic Spoon to power my Olympic weightlifting routine. For the rest of my day I eat every few hours, follow a supplement schedule recommended by a friend who worked in human performance with the US military, and make time to go to therapy once a week. Before going to bed I put on blue light blocking glasses for an hour and then sleep on a pad that circulates cold water to lower my body temperature while tracking my sleep using a wearable device. …


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Photo by yummy on Twenty20.

Personal user manuals are one of my favorite tools. At a low point in my management career, sharing personal user manuals within my team rescued my deteriorating relationship with a high performing PM. After we learned from each other how to better communicate, our relationship improved and we continued to work together happily. It was a tough near-miss and made the value of this radically transparent communication tool obvious to me.

I strive to live in the model of leadership that PUMs express – be authentically yourself, share your mistakes and areas for improvement, and continue to grow. Vulnerability, openness to change, and self-awareness are the bedrock traits of a growth mindset. As Dr. Brené Brown writes, “There is no innovation and creativity without failure.” (If you’re not yet familiar with Dr. …


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Image via the Slack press kit.

Tomorrow, Slack will become a public company. In a move that’s very “Slack, the company is doing it via a direct sale for employees and investors, not a banker-led IPO. This willingness to carve its own path (or maybe, an inability to follow someone else’s path) is a defining characteristic of Slack’s culture, and responsible for much of its success.

I’ll never forget our first product offsite. CEO and founder Stewart Butterfield gave a presentation to our team about product through an interdisciplinary lens, kicking off with a YouTube clip of a chimpanzee being wowed by a magic trick to illustrate the role of expectations in creating surprise and delight to guide our own approach to our Slack customers. This unusual approach was typical of a product-focused CEO who was more likely to begin a design review by asking you, “What do you know about 14th century China?” …


These are the touchstone books and articles I share with founders and product managers. The more you learn about product design, how people think and make decisions, what feelings are, how to run efficient teams and how groups operate, the more it all blends together. Only a few of these books are subject-matter specific to technology. Many of them are about understanding what it is to be a human being, from the inside out.

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Image via Twenty20.

Books

I have a high standard for books. The following are books that needed to be books, and would not have sufficed as articles or Medium posts. Remember that books do not have feelings, no matter how many episodes of Tidying Up you’ve watched. …


I’m experimenting with some slightly more personal essays. This is the first. In part it’s about my experience changing social classes in America. It’s also about startups.

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Image from Twenty20.

I like to help people. My dad set this example every day: if you can help, you should. When I was a kid he’d often pick up hitch hikers and engage them in conversation. There was never a sense of fear or pity — these people were not less than us or unworthy of our friendship just because they also needed a ride. As an adult I realized it wasn’t just a behavior born of his compassion and empathy but also of our social class. I once read this from a study on fear: rich people are afraid of the homeless; working class people are afraid of becoming homeless. …


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Photo by LinaVeresk, via Twenty20.

I’m so happy and humbled to have joined the incredible team at Lightspeed, where I have strong mentors to learn from as well as a substantial platform. I first started making angel investments and advising companies after leaving Slack, without planning to invest professionally. I even turned down conversations with firms that reached out. Like a lot of former founders, I’ve had some very poor interactions with VCs that colored my impression of the industry as a whole.

But over the course of the next year I discovered that I really loved helping founders grow their businesses, hire teams, find product/market fit, and learn to scale themselves as leaders. And becoming a venture capitalist myself, especially at a top tier firm like Lightspeed, felt like the best way to continue the mission I took on when I left…


I recently wrote up this process document to help the founders I’ve invested in hire their first product managers. This is the process that I used at Slack to hire product managers and it’s similar to what a lot of startups use. It’s often hard for non-product people to feel like they know how to evaluate product managers; I hope this clarifies that process for you.

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Photo by Criene via Twenty20.

Start with Internal Prep

The key to hiring a great PM is knowing what you’re looking for and asking candidates to show you that they can perform & communicate in the way that you expect. …

About

Merci Victoria Grace

Investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners. Former Director of Product @SlackHQ. Founder of Women in Product.

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