Launching a product as a Software Engineer

Updated: 4 days ago

Learnings building and launching an AI product with a cross-functional team





Loqui is a web plugin integrated with video-conferencing software that helps multi-lingual professionals to communicate confidently & effectively to unlock career growth opportunities.




About me


I am Bhagyashree Deokar, a lifelong learner and curious person. I have built products to solve problems across different verticals in the SaaS to help customers achieve their goals. Due to my diverse interest, I am always reading, learning & experimenting.


My interest in learning Product Management with hands-on experience from the best world-class leaders, I was exploring different industry programs & I came across the PMDojo community. So, I spoke with Bosky, the Founder of PMDojo Even during our first conversation, she was so supportive & encouraging that I decided to join Spring 2022 Industry Cohort.


As part of the industry track, I was part of a team of five product managers. We were partnered with a startup(cannot disclose name due to NDA) to solve their business challenge & launch a product. All 5 of us were from different backgrounds & industries. Our diverse experience enabled us to uncover problems from a different lens. We were indeed a global team located in 5 different time zones. I would like to give a walkthrough of my experience over ten weeks while collaborating with the fantastic team at PMDojo Accelerator Program.




Background


Not being able to convey great ideas impacts an individual’s confidence & career growth. In addition, individuals feel anxious when communicating in a non-native language for professional commitments. Due to the pandemic, people have been working remotely & communicating via video conferencing tools like zoom, GoogleMeet, etc. There is an opportunity to help these individuals communicate.


Based on market statistics, the global personal development market is expected to reach USD 67.02 billion by 2030. Communication is the #1 skill that people want to improve. 95.9% of employers find communication skills essential, but they believe only 41.6% demonstrate efficiency in those skills. Solving this problem will also uplift people when most people are dealing with anxiety due to pandemics.


Problem Statement


Our problem statement went through iterations over eight weeks based on user research, market research, prototype testing, and user feedback. It led us to the final problem statement:


“Professionals currently practice verbal communication in an often costly, manual, and time-consuming way and aren't often aware of how to improve their communication.”


Business Goal

  • Auto-Integrating, an AI-powered speech coach in users’ daily professional lives, will help users to build consistency & new neuropathways that helps to build confidence over time.

  • It’s an opportunity to enter into B2B.

  • B2B contracts have a large account size & will help to acquire a large number of users.

  • New revenue stream in addition to the company’s B2C market segment


Target Persona & their pain points


Loqui product’s target persona is Sam, a “multi-lingual and professional who communicates in English in his work environment.” He feels anxious that his message is not received as intended & that he is not being considered for growth opportunities due to his lack of communication skills and English not being his primary spoken language.


Despite being highly competent and intelligent as a multi-lingual professional, Sam is looking for ways to communicate confidently and effectively.




We identified three main pain points based on Sam’s user journey, a customer survey, and user interviews.




Solving the second pain point will empower Sam to feel more confident overall. It will also provide feedback on areas of improvement and what factors Sam has already improved & getting better at it.


Prototype & usability testing helped validate our assumptions. We conducted an idea generation session to get inspiration for our product design. This exercise helped us to identify patterns & create an innovative experience. Highlights from the workshop :

  • Breathe App’s breathing indicator on the Apple watch is non-distracting but valuable for humans to function.

  • The Facebook live reaction allows the audience to provide live encouragement to the presenter during Facebook live events.



Here is an example of one of the most impactful experiences that we created as part of this exercise to help users while presenting:




We collaborated with a developer in exploring options & API support to integrate with different video conferencing tools like Zoom, GoogleMeet, MS Teams, Discord, etc. Zoom & GoogleMeet has a higher market share due to convenience & ease of setup.

The startup team we partnered with was already working on plugin development simultaneously, which is easy to integrate with GoogleMeet. Based on user & market insights, we prioritized Zoom integration for phase 1 & it also aligned with Founder’s requirements and other things on the product roadmap. In addition, we considered parameters like cost of integration, reliability, and support for different integrations.

Supporting timely actionable feedback has two critical components. The first component is real-time feedback & the second component is post-presentation/meeting feedback. We prioritized providing post-presentation feedback for phase 1 due to following reasons:

  • Supporting APIs developed by the startup were private & not ready for integration in phase 1

  • Resource constraints like time, developer bandwidth, etc


North Start Metrics

We identified the following supporting metrics to dive deeper into usage details & measure the value delivered to users:

  • # of times used by users per week when the user is presenting

  • Average duration/week per user

  • % improvement over the historical performance


Product Roadmap

We created a roadmap to roll out phase 1 & simultaneously started working on preparing ourselves for phase 2


User Stories

The following list includes a few user stories for the prioritized use cases for phase 1:


MVP release plan

We identified key deliverables for phase 1 for the successful launch of the product:

  • Create an integration plan, privacy, and compliance terms by collaborating with the Zoom Partner team

  • Create user agreement to get user consent during Loquii & Zoom integration flow by collaborating with Legal teams

  • Design & implement post-meeting summary

  • Develop email integration to provide post-meeting Loqui insights in email

  • Add instrumentation on In-App Post-Meeting Feedback Screen to track how much time the user spent on the insight summary

  • Create product overview training to onboard customer success & sales enablement team for phase 1 release


Key Outcomes

I would like to share the exciting results of our beta launch. Here are ratings provided by our early beta customers:

  • Live feedback - 3.5/5

  • Quick summary - 4.4/5

  • Email summary - 4.4/5

  • 80% of users said Loqui is helpful

Key Learnings

I learned great things from my peers, Bosky, our mentors & guest speakers at PMDojo related to product career and how to frame your ideas in a better way to bring people on the same page. I would like to share a few learnings that I felt impacted me the most:

  • Stakeholder alignment is extremely important to launch a product successfully

  • Product Managers do not over cross-functional teams.

  • Staying clear & concise helps in understanding why

  • Finally, prioritizing the right thing & being resourceful is essential to moving forward

I must say, Culture at PMDojo is supportive & everybody cares about your growth & learning.” I had the best team & without them, this product journey would not have been fun & friendly. If anybody is looking to transition or grow in a product role and get hands-on experience, please check out the PMDojo product accelerator program.


I am happy to discuss my experience as well. Appreciate you taking the time to read this article.




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