I want to share my little story with you. Have you ever realised how is important to dream? That's a magical thing that a kind of North Star helps you wake up every morning to fill life more sense leading you to some direction. When I turned 13 years old, I took responsibility for my choice and decided to study the economy in lyceum. I wanted to make a bit better and wealthy my life and village citizens where I was born. That mind has been driving me in that time, and I thought I would someday become an entrepreneur to launch something there.
There is only one way to check that this's right way. Just try it!
So I put all myself in the study. In the second year of a university, I have dived in-depth venture investments where I focused my attention on IT startups. As a result, my dream to become an entrepreneur has modified to a person who will analyse early-stage startups to help entrepreneurs raise money and give value to clients worldwide. I have joined local business incubator for early-stage startups, where I explored a few hundreds of small companies to help them with finding investors and mentors. That was a unique experience because I learn best and bad practices for launching MVPs and building Customer Development.
I got interested in investments on second year in university. I wanted to be a person who manage VC's money. I have started my first steps as an intern at a startup accelerator GrowthUp, and then I got a job at the Startup Depot business incubator, where I managed projects and I have been selecting startups.
In that time, I have organised the most prominent startup competition in Eastern Europe. I am proud that I made it. I gathered 150 startups in the selection, where 30 of them were pitching in the final stage to win main prizes.
For almost two years, I invested my time and effort working with different startups. That's an excellent opportunity to see good and bad examples of how to develop ideas and products. I realised that I know enough to start my new path helping startups and product companies solve their customers' problems.
Since I didn't have my product, I wanted to join a team to become an excellent product manager.
Since I did not know all the specifics of the work, together with Startup Depot colleagues came the idea to make a product school. It wasn't easy, but I gathered the best lecturers, mentors, and people from IT companies who want to become product managers. I also studied all materials as other students.
That's how I became a founder of Product School in Lviv. However, after the first set, I left the project and sold my shares. The cool thing that the school still works today (for more than three years).
It does not matter how you are good at begging of your path. It matters what do you do every day to grow in your career.
My last day at Startup Depot (November 2017) was when I held an important event presenting startups' work over the past two months. Event went very cool, as well as an afterparty with colleagues until 4 am. And a few hours later, my journey to Slush (Finland) to one of the world's largest startup conferences in the world.
Emotions overwhelmed me after the nightly farewell talks. I anticipated something radically new.
The primary purpose of my trip to the conference was to find a job in an IT company.
Hundreds of short meetings in 3 days with CEOs, product managers and recruiters of companies from Europe and Ukraine in particular. Several interviews during the conference with recruiters from Mercedes-Benz, Hubspot, Zalando (thanks to @pashkentiyme, I visited their headquarters in Berlin in 2020) and others.
As a result, I returned to Lviv with dozens of business cards and great inspiration to continue my journey as a product manager .
In December, while most students were thinking of closing the session as soon as possible, I actively went to interviews and asked friends about the company. What session can we talk about when you communicate with HR Mercedes-Benz? 😁
After the New Year, I received a good offer from a product manager at Preply, a service for finding tutors in different languages. But it was necessary to move to Kyiv, leaving friends, favorite places and the atmosphere of winter Lviv, as well as full-time study at the Polytechnic. At the university, if anything, I did not quite score)
On February 4, 2018, a new chapter in my book of life begins: I had a small dream - to become a "startup in a startup". This was a hypothesis that needed to be tested: either you are strong enough to "conquer" both the dream and the city, or return to Lviv and start all over again (which would be psychologically difficult for me - I do not like to lose).
The next 9 months in the company were a "quantum leap" for me - I felt I was in the right place at the right time. Everything went great: ideas, dozens of interviews, mvp, etc. But I remember how my grandmother told me: no matter how good or bad you are, everything will not be like that. Surprisingly, it happened. I became a product manager at Preply.
My main task at Preply was to test ideas that might work in the medium term. The problem my team faced was that some tutors were successful and others were not. Usually, after classes with a "failed" tutor, the student usually looks for another or does not return to the site.
For me, it was a good challenge: to figure out how to keep students and keep good quality tutors. Finding a solution took two months, and the lion's share of time went to building an MVP (minimum value (working) product). In the end, I and my team implemented the first version of the prototype, which was launched for a small sample of tutors. But it would not be life if everything went smoothly.
Last Friday in September, I’m still in the office, but mentally already on the train to Lviv for the conference, which starts in an hour and a half. At this point, the chief product manager from Germany writes to me about an urgent call. And here intuition prepares me for something bad ...
Sorry, you are fired. Company needs to reduce part of the team. You can pick up your things on Monday.
After the conversation, I return to the room where my team is sitting - I pick things up, say goodbye, try to keep positive and leave (I was asked not to talk to the team about the release). And here I am on the train in a slightly strange, apparently shocked state. I am returning to Lviv, the city where I started my career in IT. Was it scary? Well, maybe a little. In two weeks, my trip to Portugal began, where I spent another two weeks to reboot and attend one of the world's largest conferences - Web summit.
When I returned, I actively started looking for a new job. It was not easy to find a company where I could implement my knowledge and experience, because I have a high enough bar for what I want and can do.
Several months of searching, two dozen interviews, a dozen meetings and several in-depth interviews. There was my search for "my" company where I would be helpful and productive. But first of all it was necessary to make some decisions.
- First, to reject all companies that have not been focused on Western markets;
- Second, to determine whether it will be a B2B or B2C company;
-Third, to determine the industry for which I will solve user problems.
"Revenue Inbox" helps sales managers saving information from inbox and calendar to CRM automatically.
January 2018 was my first day at Invisible, as Revenue Grid was called at the time. It is a B2B product in the field of sales automation, namely data synchronisation between mail and customer database.
The decision to change the type of business and field was not easy, cause I previously worked for a B2C company in the field of online learning. Therefore, my first challenges were to study the scope, analysis of competitors and a detailed study of Revenue Inbox - a product where I was the first hired product manager.
I was responsible for the entire product and implement the company's business goals. That's a B2B solution with hundreds of end-user per customer. I lead the product "Revenue Inbox" as Product Manager and created a small product team (Junior Product Manager, UX designer,Business Analyst and Tech writers). I met users' problems related to Sign Up,Setup and Aha moment so that the product struggled with user activation and adoption rate. I have also attended pre-sales for medium and enterprise where I must think ASAP how to cover their use cases via product, workaround or creatingMVPs of new features/product direction. It was the perfect time for my professional grow cause not only business challenges have existed but also technical infrastructure changes. Microsoft and Google often made changes and announced new ones to their APIs, so I should analyse those trends and keep the product up to date and competitive. It helped to win a bunch of deals.
I stabilised product and have made core features more successful during the last two years. But COVID has made his changes and company decided to re-organise departments and my story in Revenue Grid has been done. I did not see me after those changes. Well, I wanted to try myself in B2B product, and I made it. Now it's time to move forward to help other companies to solve the problems of their clients.
To be continued ...