Great leaders tend to be simplifiers. They drill down things to its core essence.Jeetu Patel, Chief Product Officer at Box
Jeetu Patel is Chief Product Officer at Box. He leads the company’s overall product and platform strategy, driving Box’s long-term roadmap and vision for cloud content management in the enterprise. Previously, as Chief Strategy Officer and SVP of Platform at Box, Jeetu led the creation of the Box Platform business unit, overseeing product strategy, marketing and developer relations. He grew the team from a nascent product to a revenue generating business line and key element on Box’s overall suite of offerings. He also led corporate development & M&A strategy as well as Box for Industries.
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Key Insights from our Conversation:
- The thing that drives Jeetu more than anything else is the extent of impact of his ideas and projects that he had done. People spend a lot of time at work and their team’s mission is to ensure that people’s lives at work get better –there’s less friction, teams are more productive and dreams get attained.
- Jeetu grew up in India and come over to the US at 19. They were wealthy before but his family had gone through hard times. America has given him a break and with the help of mentors, he had the realization that whatever he has his mind on, can come to pass. These experiences had molded his way of thinking and drive him to look for the following characteristics in people that create a level of tenacity and success: a degree of curiosity of how things work, the ability to drill things down to the core and the most important of all of them, a hunger to fuel the passion.
- Box is a content manager company whose mission is to power how the world works together. Everything they do is around content: managing content, how content participate in business workflows, how you share it, how you collaborate around it, how you secure it, how you get value from your content. This started with a problem of taking large files and transferring them from one person to another as they are working on projects. Their solution was a system in the cloud which allows people to seamlessly share and collaborate and over time they delivered and built it to the enterprise.
- Box has a three-phased approach on problems:
- First phase is where they incubate an idea. The goal during this phase is to identify a problem that’s big enough to solve and come up with a solution that is meaningfully differentiated in the market. After this, you maniacally focus on the product market fit.
- The second phase is identifying a repeatable selling motion, and once this is established, begin to scale. Don’t try to scale prematurely, that is for phase three.
- Get your product market fit first, get those flagship 10 customers, identify the successful, get a repeatable selling motion then scale. Don’t do it until then.
- In finding talent, you have to have a good mix of people who has experience and the right potential. You can’t just have people who are high on experience because as you get more experience, you become a liability as you often get overly prejudice in your views and your experience of your past. You will then have to spend time unlearning the patterns of your past. So ensure that you are hiring people who are extremely capable and have experience in the right areas but do not over index on experience only as a fresh mind can challenge the status quo much more so that someone who is already tainted on how things work. Also, keep the size of the team small as they will spend their time actually doing the work done and not coordinating things.
- Jeetu also differentiated power users and marginal users and advised to focus on the latter so you can go out and drive growth. You have to deeply understand what the marginal user wants and how that might be very different from what the power users want, and you have to make trade off exercises between the two. When you are going out to determine market fit, look at your power users. But once you get past product market fit and grow you user base, make sure there is heavy emphasis placed on the marginal users and the way you build out their capabilities.
- Jeetu also shares one of the powerful concepts that their organization has constructed which they have been doing to more and more of their teams. They brand this with a code name PEAPOD: Product Manager, Engineering, Analytics, Program Management, Online Growth and Design.