Pro goals 2021

Happy new year! All my wishes of luck and happiness in a, let’s hope, Covid-free world for 2021 ♡. May your personal and professional projects be great and your learnings even greater.

2020 was a bummer, in a way.
What was the major drawback of Covid-19 to you?
To me, it was the constant uncertainty about the plans we were making.

2020 = Dream > Plan > Cancel > Repeat.

It was also the first year we all had SO MUCH TIME at home.
I gather that many of us haven’t enjoyed these lockdowns. Being cut from the outside world, has, indeed, put us in a very particular mood. Not all for the worse either, it also let new room for experimentation.
And various clans emerged… Which one was yours?
– The MyFirstTikTok Clan ;
– The YogaMeditation Clan ;
– The HandStand Clan (yes, I joined this fun one…);
– The NowICookMyOwnStuff Clan ;
– The Netflix&Chill Clan ; …

Me first days after 1st lockdown, in the Basque Country.

In our professional life, lockdowns brought an unusual sauce as well.
– Different energies, creativity flow and focus coming from homeoffice ;
– Time for an extended morning or evening routine ;
– Exploration or raise of expertise through online training ;
– Some of us tripled down their effort at work to survive the crisis, learning a lot!
– The virus also reminded that behind every professional there are families and their own challenges to overcome, letting a form of solidarity and goodwill emerge.

In this context, as an annual ritual, I’ll share with you my experience of the past year and a few of my 2021 goals.

1. Product Management

« FestView, WookyHome, Kraze, Appaloosa.io: I hope that these products will reach their targets in 2020. My goal is to continue working on 3 to 5 running projects, focusing on industries that I love. » > Achieved ✅

FestView 👨🏻‍🎤

Covid-19 imposed a tough year to the live music industry. But we’ve seen many on-line services and experiences flourish.
And in this trend, what a take-off for FestView this last year! The mission was to take the app from Bêta to V1 with confidence… And as I’m writing we’re a few days away from the official V1 release.
We gained strong confidence thanks to very positive data:
⤴ contributor users went from 50 to 1200 in 3 months (+2400%)
⤴ artist pages they created went from 80 to 7500 in 6 months
(+9400%)
⤴ users spent 03 min 50 sec on the encyclopedia in average during the last quarter

This initial core community of music lovers is passionate and strongly committed. Now we have to work hard not to deceive them.
🎯 2021 challenges we are to take up to maintain this exciting pace:
Grow a team of 15 music addicts. For now we’re 7. Want to join the band? -> See our job offers.
Grow sustainably our content and community for the sake of reliable music encyclopedia.
Deliver as much as possible of the amazing improvements our users ask for.

📱150

It’s a new project, deeply questioning the relevance of current social tools to enhance our social life.
If you feel like you’re losing time on Instagram or Facebook, please be our guest and have a look at these:
Website
Survey
🎯 For 150, this year’s targets are :
– Continue grooming theoretical and practical insights on human social life
– Gather people interested into finding a solution to the problem
– Build a prototype of this solution

WookyHome 🏡

Amazing progress on our journey here too. To a given extent, I could say even more with the virus. 30% of french people now want to extend their remote working practice.
The traditional office is today more questionable than ever. It’s a good context for us. Here are the updates on WookyHome:
– 🦾 First… the platform is up! Go and share it to the world 🌍 -> wooky.app.
To give birth to it, I took this web development bootcamp during the 2020 spring Covid-lockdown. For many reasons it was one of the best choices of the year.
– 👍🏻 First users were showing up and tests were promising… before the winter Covid-lockdown struck! That was really encouraging and pushed us to work harder for 2021, when the dust settles down.
– 🏡 We raised our database from 10 to 200 places. And we’re currently selecting a lot more.
🎯 Hopefully 2021 will be a kick-off year for WookyHome:
– Level up to 1000 homes. Want to rent your place? -> Click here.
– Get a handful of satisfied companies
– Fully automise the booking flow
Grow a first little team to grow the product and the business

🔬 Micro-Scope

At a point this year, I needed help to cope with the increasing workload on the different products. I shared these challenges with a student who’s willing to learn about Product Management. And along the road, I learned a few things:
– sharing the work drives towards simplification/clarification and is great source of learning. Both for tools and methods
customer-facing discussions and product curiosity are key components of PM job, at every level
– even with relatively stable roadmaps, collaborating with someone on a set of product tasks required a lot more sync that I’d imagine. They vary a lot a week from another.
It was exciting and promising, so I thought about engaging with the creation of a smallish PM agency. But for now I find myself more interested into skill-sharing and product management, than into the development of a consultancy business.

For these exciting Product adventures, special thanks and kudos to Alexandre Pujol, Arthur Grunheid, Brian Keravec, Hugo Sanchez, Jean-Philippe Keravec, Laurent Douville, Léa Seica, Michael Ellert, Michael Souphith, and Steven Keravec.

2. Blogging

« I will write 2 times more articles next year. […] I will also increase small publications […] around music-tech news. » > Partly achieved 🟠

About the articles: I did began a Product Management Saga. It follows the adventures of an early stage music product – FestView – until it hopefully grows as far as it can. The goal is to analyse and exhibit real product management insights. Straight from the field, with full transparency.
The experience of writing was a thrill! I’m very happy with the 3 first episodes that received very positive feedback. And I still very strongly recommend anyone to get to write about what they’re passionate about. Both for structuring existing ideas and discovering even more in the process.

I faced two issues, though, that prevented me getting further on this saga and that I’d like to share with you:
#1 – I didn’t consider the writing as a priority.
I was telling myself « I got to write on that, but I’ll do it later, now I got work to do. » The ever increasing workload related to FestView itself would always win the battle of prioritisation.
#2 – I lacked confidence in the value of the content.
It was my first year as freelance PM. A bit isolated, I wasn’t always confident about my learnings, and I felt like I had more questions than answers to share.

In the process, I was motivated by the traffic coming in, doubling from the year before. The saga seemed to meet its readers.

🎯 In 2021, I will double down on my effort on this Product Management Saga, get it back on track and, more generally, double down my effort on the product management writing. Here are a few fixes to the issues mentioned above:
#1.1 -> Every Wednesday morning is now locked, free of any meeting and fully dedicated to inspiration and writing.
#1.2 -> To prevent me being afraid by an enormous article to write, I will release more little content, more frequently.
#1.3 -> I will co-write articles with my peers and other professionals of the industry. The more, the merrier! A few topics are already on track…
#2 -> I’ll allow myself to publish answerless content. Sharing context and questions should still bring more than sharing nothing at all.

Special thanks to Remi Guyot here, who reminded me how powerful a long-term practice of writing is profitable for the mind.

Now about the small music-tech industry news. I did launch this Instagram account and published a few stories and posts.
Conclusions: the publication process brought very little added value compared to the attention it required. Even with a bit automation.
This year you’ll find me more active on:
My Twitter account – for PM and music industry content
Product Manager France 🇫🇷 (Facebook group) – as admin, exploring ways of having fun and learn with french PM community

3. Design

« Plan for 2020 is to work a little more on design missions. » > Achieved ✅

All the design efforts were put into FestView and WookyHome. Hope you’ll like.

4. Remote working

« Spread the word and the best practices/tips of remote working around me + Continue working from the places that I love around the world » > Achieved but…✅

Remote working was… weird this year! It seemed to be both mandatory and impossible.
Mandatory, because we just simply couldn’t reach the office.
Impossible, because there was just one place we could use: our own living room.

Most of the time, travelling wasn’t allowed within our own countries ; and even less in-between different countries.
As some professionals I enjoyed greener part of France during the 1st lockdown (Biarritz🇫🇷), and the rest of the year was a split in-between Paris 🇫🇷 and Rome 🇮🇹. A few last days in the Alpes were a glow.

The Traditional Annual Startuper Picture

🌳 This year, a little innovation though: I’m planting trees to catch back the extra CO2 emitted by my flights. Which is a lot!
3.1 tons of CO2 for me in 2020 to be accurate.
A tree absorbs 150 kg CO2 in 30 years, in average.
For 2020 I’ve committed to plant 36 trees, which should absorb almost 2 times the 3.1t CO2 I’ve emitted by then. Plus, these trees are frenchies 🇫🇷

May 2021 bring you amazing ideas and opportunities to work form the places you love 🥰

Special thanks to you Gabi, for making this life possible and amazing.

Pro goals for 2020 🎯

Happy New Yeaaaaar !! May 2020 bring you the best both in your personal and professional life 🥰

Here are few lines to have a look back on 2019 and talk about 2020. In mid-2019 I had my first official steps as a freelancer. Here are some major achievements that I’d like to sum up, as source of learnings and self motivation for next year!

Blogging’s so cooool

I launched this personal blog with a specific focus on music and tech related topics. 8 articles have driven 500 unique visitors. I had an amazing help from Product fellows and reader friends to improve both writing style, sourcing and argumentation, many thanks to you guys 🙏🏻.

As a short feedback, I confirmed this year that blogging is an amazing source of professional and personal new inputs. An amazing source of learning. It helps structuring your thoughts and your professional positioning. Even if readers don’t show: go for it, write and post. You’ll see what it brings later.

🎯I will write at least 2 times more article next year. In the same editorial style, I will try to dig deep into product, go-to-market and design issues related to music apps, softwares and devices.

I will also increase the pace of small publications to give you relevant and up-to-date piece of information around music-tech news. I will try to cover both major industry actors (Spotify, Soundcloud, Deezer, Pandora, Resident Advisor,…) and minor emergent products or trends (Soundtrap, Kraze, podcasts, Beat2beat,…).

Product Management

I got involved in the development process of 4 digital products:

  • Wookyhome.com: find amazing places to work for your team and enhance well being at work.
  • Fest-view.com: contribute to the greatest music encyclopedia and get rewarded with music products.
  • Kraze.fr: find the electronic music party that suits you the best in your city.
  • Appaloosa.io: deploy your mobile apps onto your employees device in a BYOD strategy.

My help on these projects had different angles. For some, the priority is to shape the vision and the business model. For some, the priority is to think a smart and cost-efficient go-to-market. For others, what I helped enhance the user understanding, the experience or the interface. And finally, some teams had me working on the agile delivery process itself.

🎯I hope that all these products will reach their business and experience targets in 2020.
My goal is to continue working on 3 to 5 running projects, focusing on industries that I love.

Design

I designed 3 logos for 3 beautiful environmental projects: Speaker4Earth, Coach4Earth, Business4Earth. They allow professionals to plant trees each time the work for their client. Collaboration was perfect, and projects are now starting really great.

🎯Plan for 2020 is to work a little more on design missions.
I would love to help other starting or growing business in the music or environment industry to communicate with efficient and modern materials.

Remote working

Finally, 2019 has been, for me, the discovery of the remote working world. I’ve spent 5 months working remotely from Germany 🇩🇪 (Hamburg 🥰), 1 month in France 🇫🇷 (Paris and Biarritz), a few weeks in Brazil 🇧🇷(Rio, Sao Paulo and Ilha Grande).

🎯I did it both as freelancer and fulltime team member. In 2020 I have 2 goals regarding this matter:

  • Spread the word and the best practices/tips around me. If you or your team want a feedback around that, knock here 😉
  • Continue working from the places that I love around the world 🌎

Apprenticeship in a startup: 4️⃣ reasons to take the plunge

After one year spent into a startup as an apprentice, I would like to share my point of view about the « apprenticeship startup experience ».

This morning I read an astonishing article, again. One of those articles made in Silicon Valley: « Neuralink, Elon Musk’s project to enhance our brains ». Wow! What a title! An incredible project, carried by an incredible entrepreneur, to solve an incredible issue… 

And this is no bluff. Okay, the media and the atmosphere in tech world can lead us to this « futurologist hype ». They all write about transhumants, crypto-currencies, space conquest. But there’s a solid truth behind all that: there are true men and women in this world that think the future of humanity. Going as fast as the imagination of novelists. 

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "neuralink"
Elon Musk, pitching Neuralink

I’ve always been deeply admirative and passionate by these challenges to the unknown. This is an adventure. Really inspiring. Before I finish my studies, I had promised myself to become an insider of these companies that shape the world’s future. 

So when I was looking for an apprenticeship last year, it was this spirit of pioneering, ambitiousness and adventure that was attracting me. 

I followed three of my school friends into a startup carrying a strong and ambitious social project. In a word, the thing was called Skilvioo and its project was to put more meaning within the work-education system for men and women

Today, after more than one year spent into a startup as an apprentice, I would like to share, in this article, my point of view about this not-known-so-well « apprenticeship startup experience ».

Can someone tell me where we’re heading to?

#TheTarget?

Skilvioo was launched in 2012 and had a first mission of streamlining relations between work-education system operators. Big thing. 

After a very short time in the company I realized that with our innovating approach, we aimed at digitalizing processes of many different types of organizations: universities, business schools, engineering schools, Pôle Emploi, recruiting departments and companies,… I couldn’t count them all. And we had the same number of different types of professionals to talk to.

So in ou daily work, there were a lot of discussions about WHO EXACTLY were our first target. Hard to find a single unanime answer. 

#TheValueProposition?

Our app was kind of large and offered a set of many different features. So I focused on understanding ward exactly was each of these feature bringing to whom. Most of all I had this question in mind: what’s our most impacting value proposition? Would that be the skills matching? Or CV generator? Ha maybe our powerful search engine… hm… not sure.

#TheRevenueStream?

During the months that followed my arrival, I had many sales meetings with our customers and leads. And by crossing our notes within the team, we would realize that a client A would get a 5k€ proposal, whereas client B had already signed for 3k€ ; and what about client C to whom we already announced a budget of 8k€?

Sometimes it was annual recurring billing. Sometimes one shot. Sometimes monthly…

So what, even the revenu model was not set?

#TheChanels

« So I guess that we have preferred channel to communicate with our leads ? » Sponsored adds? Events? Emailing? Content strategy? What works the best since the beginning?… *complete silence in the meeting room* hm. So on that point again, no clear path to walk on.

Towards the definition of a startup

Alex Osterwalder’s business model canvas

When you are used to analyse businesses with the « Business Model Canvas » of Alex Osterwalder (below), this type of situation can become quite anxiety-provoking. The team realizes that very few things are 99% sure on the framework. All the rest were to be explored with more accuracy. 

Panic comes when you run into a wall of unknown parameters each time you try something.

Most of the time, the domain in which you’re adventuring is tied to other domains. Trigger a sales issue, end with a product deeper problem. Trigger a communication question, end with a cost and revenu headache.

Unsolved business model canvas of a startup

This is what’s called an unsolved market equation. 

And to me, this is what a startup is. Definition number one. 

A startup is a company that has not finished to solve its market equation.

You know you’re in a startup when daily routine is mined with uncertainty. When your business looks like a Mastermind game. When you dream about what could possibly 6 months from now with your colleagues during after works. It’s when your product team have their hand shaking before putting the last feature online. 

It’s deep uncertainty at pretty much every decision you take. Little or big.

« Would you tell that you’re experiencing what you were looking for ? » asked my apprenticeship tutor. 

« I did not expect such a mess, but I would definitely go for it again ! »

Without hesitation. 

4 learning levers for an apprentice in a startup

2. Empowerment

You say it, you own it. It’s the most powerful lever for learning. 

In a startup, it goes with the size of structure: an organization of 20 people navigating in the unknown has no choice but giving responsibility to all members. 

There are so many subjects to be explored. Deliverables to be produced. Identity points to be challenged. Content to be written. Features to be imagined. Data to be analyzed. There’s work for an entire army here!

And this must be done because company’s survival is at stake. 

For apprentices it means 4 things (in addition to hard work, for sure): 

  • Since nothing is really structured, the mere dashboard that you can produce is silver. The mere design of sales printed document that you can imagine is gold. The mere blog article that you can write is platine. And you can be sure that all these productions will not remain in a box, unused. Team will use it again and again, until better stuff is produced. So there truly is free space to create pretty much everything need by the company. 
  • As freshman in such a little structure, even if you’re « The trainee/apprentice », your added value is also into the company’s culture. First members of such small structures are key to define this culture. And this culture is key to the startup’s growing. 
  • Nobody is going to do the job for you. So it’s a good place to learn commitment, accountability and interpersonal communication skills. 
  • When you’re accountable for something, it makes it count double for your learnings. Failure and successes are much more powerful than if you had done the work for someone else’s accountability.
    About that, shortly: in a pedagogic stand, a skill is indeed remembered better by a person if he/she is in direct observation of the consequences of their actions – links to academic resources here and here.
    More: when you let them try new things, even if they make mistakes, it counts triple – here and there, academic resources.

2. Tempo

To reduce uncertainty over its market equation, a startup has to try a lot of things. Quickly.

On one hand, this can be pressurizing because exploration doesn’t always bring money. It brings knowledge that can lead to the money needed for the business. So dealing with short amount of time, team must keep a high pace of project management. 

On the other hand, it teaches the team not to lose focus on what’s essential for business. Without this focus, they start many things without always finishing them. I kept in mind a sentence of our CEO: « If you want to go forward: the Best is the enemy of the Good ». Meaning that spending hours on a topic to get it perfect is probably not a good idea when you have dozens of other tasks waiting in the queue.

3. Variety

Exploring many aspects of a startup’s business in a short time implies to get involved in very different domains. Communication, marketing, sales, development, product, Human Resources… Sure, everyone must hold their ground of accountability. But this one is very wide for each member of the team. 

The cliché of the « Swiss knife »intern/apprentice is true. And it’s a pity that people see it as a bad thing since Learning is the most important thing for a trainee. As such, you can easily have a good overview of the whole value stream that goes through the organisation. And as such, most important thing, a trainee better learns what they can and what they like to bring, to this value stream.

4. Agility

Finally, you can not talk about a startup without mentioning the Agile part. 

In a startup, agility seems like juggling with a business vision/mission in a hand, and the actual immediate needs of the addressed market in the other hand.

The vision comes to life with ideology, company’s culture, speeches, dreams and motivations. 

And needs comes to life with bug reports, feature demands, business negotiations, and planning. 

A very special skill set is required to address such a balanced combination of addressing both vision and needs: 

  • Knowing how to listen to the market. Eric Ries couldn’t say more « Life’s too short to build a product that nobody wants ».Market is often right.  
  • Knowing how to keep distance with market needs. Henry Ford couldn’t say more: « If I had asked people what they would need to enhance their travels, they would have answered « We need faster horses » ». How can you come up with the Car concept if you listen to your market too much ?
  • Knowing how to deliver high value to the market in short time. So that you can reduce quickly uncertainty over a topic. 

It’s been said so much that an extra time won’t hurt: our technological and economical world of 21st century is moving fast. And no organisation can deal with this pace on the long run if they don’t switch to agile project and product management. 

This is why I think learning these basics in a startup is a great opportunity for an apprentice. It’s a good time and energy investment for the future.

To sum it up

  1. Empowerment
  2. Tempo
  3. Variety
  4. Agility

So, ready to become an insider?

A lot of clichés about the startup experience are true. Uncertainty, intensity, risks, lack of solid framework/processes are totally part of the experience. I have been pushed behind my limits lots of times this year – not always comfy, nor pleasant. 

But the good part to be remembered lies into the intense learning of very useful skills. 

Hi to the bests: Der Don, Oscouille and Jaafouille – Zzzebarti!