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How to evaluate your career as a Startup Product Manager?

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Fireside Chat with Industry Leaders about the good, bad, and ugly of startups


All the speakers for the event

Are you stuck in a career limbo, wondering whether a startup or big tech is a better fit for you? Have you heard conflicting advice and want to learn from those who've been there and done that? Then you'll want to check out the insights and stories shared by seasoned industry leaders at PMDojo's recent event. This will help you evaluate your career as a Product Manager in a startup.


In this blog, we spill the beans on the secrets of both worlds, debunk the myths, and provide practical tips on how to assess your goals, skills, and values. The candid and inspiring discussion will arm you with fresh perspectives and strategies to take your career to the next level.


How does Product Management differ in a startup versus big tech?


Product Management roles in startups and big tech differ significantly. When transitioning from established organizations to startups, professionals must note that the responsibilities of a Product Manager are different.


The role of a Product Manager can vary. She noted that in small teams, cross-functional collaboration is essential and that Product Managers may need to wear multiple hats.


In pre-revenue startups, some members of the engineering team may not fully grasp the value and function of product management, requiring more time for evangelization and cross-functional management. Later-stage startups, on the other hand, focus on strategy and execution, and the Product Manager's role may involve more delegation and team management. The size of the team and the stage of the startup also contribute to the significant differences in Product Management responsibilities.


💭🧠 Set the time for 15 mins and answer these questions for yourself:

  • How comfortable are you with a high level of uncertainty and ambiguity?

  • Do you have a preference for the pace of work? This will help you evaluate your career as a Product Manager at a startup or a big tech.

  • What skills do you already have and where are the biggest gaps for you to address?


Where can you find startup jobs?

One easy way to find startup jobs is to explore different venture capitalist websites and see where they're investing. You'll get valuable insights into where the industry is heading and what skills are in demand. Another way to find unique opportunities is to attend VC socials and network with founders. You'll have access to valuable trends and get a chance to see what people are thinking. This may lead to discovering hidden gems that you would have never identified otherwise. So, start exploring today to find your next big career move!


🫶Want to build and grow your network to find your role at a startup? Learn how PMDojo can help you.


What skills and aptitudes are key to succeed in a startup?

As a Product Manager in startups, one of the most significant challenges is dealing with the uncertainty and unpredictability that comes with working in a fast-paced, constantly evolving environment.


Product Managers must be comfortable working with incomplete information, think on their feet, and be prepared to pivot quickly. They must also be able to quickly identify the key drivers of their company's success and work with their team to execute these.


In addition to being comfortable with uncertainty, PMs must have a range of skills that are critical to the success of a startup. For example, they must have a generalist mindset that allows them to effectively collaborate with various functions such as engineering, design, sales, customer support, and more. They must also have a strong understanding of the business, including revenue models and growth strategies.


Another critical factor in the success of a Product Manager is the relationship they have with the founder(s) of the company. This partnership is essential to ensure alignment on product-market fit, distribution strategies, and go-to-market plans. Having a strong, healthy relationship with the founder(s) can also help PMs navigate the uncertainty that comes with working in a startup environment.


🫶Want to learn and get industry skills to be successful at a startup or big tech? Learn how PMDojo can help you.


What do working parents need to know about working at startups?

When considering entering the startup scene as a working parent, there are certain aspects that should be taken into account.


The first thing to consider is whether the flexibility offered by the startup can fit the parent's schedule and routine. Parents, especially those with younger children, require a certain amount of flexibility in their working schedules to manage their children's needs and work commitments. Startups that offer a schedule that provides the parent a dedicated time slot to handle their parental responsibilities while still allowing them to complete their work at their own pace can be ideal for working parents.


When considering the age of the children, parents can also adjust to the flexibility offered by the startup. For example, parents of older children can take advantage of their children's self-sufficiency to work on their tasks without much interruption.


Parents with younger children, who require more flexibility can benefit from companies that accommodate their children's care schedules. Another crucial factor that most parents look at is the company culture when it comes to dealing with working parents. The company should create an atmosphere that is inclusive, supportive, and non-judgmental of parents who have to attend to their children's needs while at work. Employees should not be embarrassed to bring their children to the workplace or have their children interrupt their virtual meetings.


Overall, the biggest issue that working parents face when entering the startup scene is establishing healthy boundaries between work and home life. By ensuring that a supportive company culture is in place, parents can more easily balance work requirements with their parental duties while still achieving their career goals.



🫶Learn how PMDojo can help you transition or advance your career in product management or UX. Check out the 2 ways we have supported over 800 career professionals 3X their salaries:


💭🧠 Set the time for 15 mins and answer these questions for yourself:

  • What is the market expecting for the role at this time?

  • What skills or experience do you need to acquire to transition?

  • How can you strategically close the gap fast


🫶Want to see how PMDojo can support you? We invite you to check it out and join us!

PS: Spots fill up quickly. Apply here: https://www.pmdojo.me/apply ­­­­If you have any questions, simply join us for a live Q&A Session to learn more.




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