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Introducing The Latest Inc42 Plus Playbook: India’s Product Matrix

Decoding product frameworks, metrics, product hypotheses, team structures and a lot more in a six-part series called India’s Product Matrix, which we are launching today.

India’s burgeoning community of product builders is helping the country’s tech startup ecosystem mint one unicorn after another. But there is a lack of actionable insights for these companies to parse through and implement in their day-to-day workflows

That is why this playbook features a diverse and heady mix, covering unicorns in e-grocery, edtech, fintech and the food delivery space beside a soonicorn’s journey to reach out to Bharat. These insightful analyses of prominent product startups will help readers decipher the most challenging and intriguing product puzzles

The burgeoning community of product builders is helping India’s  tech startup ecosystem mint one unicorn after another. The number has grown rapidly, rising to 43 in January 2021, up from a lone unicorn startup a decade ago. Still, there is a lack of actionable insights for these companies to parse through and implement in their day-to-day workflows. Of course, a huge mass of product literature has emerged from the West over the years. But those examples rarely sync with the Indian context.

To bridge this gap and underline how several product startups have emerged from the shadows of the Covid-19 pandemic with flying colours, we are taking a deep dive into the product practices innovated and integrated by the most prominent tech startups in India.

We will decode specific frameworks, metrics, product hypotheses, team structures and a lot more in a six-part series called India’s Product Matrix, which we are launching today. Read through the series, featuring a diverse and heady mix of unicorns in edtech, fintech, e-grocery and the food delivery terrains as well as a soonicorn’s journey to reach out to Bharat.

It will be a unique tour of the product war rooms of some of India’s most-talked-about startups. This journey will act as a veritable lens for evaluating the strategy, implementation and growth of any product startup out there to make its mark.

Decoding BigBasket’s Unique Product Framework 

When Bengaluru-based online grocery platform BigBasket started in 2011, it did not have a playbook to follow and corner success. Several attempts to crack the online grocery market had failed worldwide, and some startups in India were trying a hyperlocal delivery model minus the inventory. BigBasket had a contrarian strategy, though, and went with the full-stack inventory model. But it also meant that its operations and value proposition had to be different from the rest of the pack.    

In the first feature of India’s Product Matrix series, we decode the product frameworks and practices which have made BigBasket the sole unicorn in the space. You will also get an in-depth account of how product managers across the company are deployed so that the team remains lean and agile while the company grows at a fast clip.

That is not the only interesting insight into BigBasket’s product function. There are tonnes to understand how the company nudges user behaviour with its features, the decision-making compass for entering new categories, the frameworks employed to achieve the market-product fit and more.

Behind Dunzo’s Continuous Product Iterations

The vision behind Dunzo was to build a product that could fulfil every pick-up-and-drop task that a consumer had. But the startup eventually realised it had to narrow down to a few categories so that people would approach them for specific needs and the company’s  business model would be sustainable.

While tracing the hyperlocal delivery company’s product journey, we try and answer a plethora of critical questions such as: What are Dunzo’s north star metrics? How does it decide which geographies are feasible and which are not using those product metrics? Why doesn’t it prefer smartphones as a category despite big margins but considers phone accessories to be a good category?

Stay with us to know all this and more about the company’s preferred growth avenues in the second article of the series.

Product Practices That Power Razorpay’s Payments Juggernaut

Set up in 2014 by Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar, Razorpay had a clear vision of the future as the digital era was maturing fast and businesses were ready to embrace the new approach. But the implementation part was not easy. There are about 25 steps between a user hitting the ‘pay’ button and the message popping up: Your transaction is successful. 

“The reasons for a payment failure can be many, right from low balance, incorrect OTP and poor internet connection to glitches on the merchant integration side,” says Khilan Haria who leads the payments products at Razorpay.

In the third article of the series, we take a close look at the nuts and bolts of how the fintech unicorn goes about developing products in a segment that looks somewhat dull from the outside — it is all about enabling payments for online merchants. But the high-growth journey within has been both exciting and challenging as one will soon find out. 

Readers will also have insights into the alternative methods used by Razorpay to help merchants, how the company modified its PRD (product requirement document) to cater to customer needs, the structure of its product team and more. 

How BYJU’S Has Solved Key Product Challenges

When it comes to learning, getting users firmly hooked to the product often sees the best outcome. In fact, stickiness is the way to go to ensure business success. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter do it through new features — triggers which attract and hold users’ attention for an extended period. Ecommerce platforms do it by showing what other users from the same background and with similar buying habits have purchased. But how does an edtech platform retain a student’s attention for extended periods?

The answer to this puzzle lies in gamification — introducing interactive features using game design principles to grab kids’ attention. “The game systems on the platform have helped drive engagement and completion rates by 2.5-3x, even by conservative estimates,” affirms BYJU’S chief product officer Ranjit Radhakrishnan.

In the fourth article of India’s Product Matrix series, we delve into the nitty-gritty of how the edtech giant iterates its products based on four levers of growth — scalability, relevance, personalisation and engagement.

Tracing ShareChat’s Product Road Map

Sometime in 2019, homegrown social network ShareChat realised that the content creators it had onboarded earlier were migrating to other platforms to interact with their fans. This meant its content and marketing dollars were helping rival platforms expand their user base.

“When we identified this, we invested in building the product and operational sides of our chat room aggressively, onboarded the chat room hosts and made sure that they were successful. We launched the chat room feature in early 2020. In about 10 months, we were leading the space in terms of user volume and the time they spend on the product,” says Gaurav Mishra, senior vice-president of the company.

This is part of a broader strategy to create a flywheel so that one content category or a product feature attracts users to go deep, find new things and stay on the platform for longer periods.  

In the fifth article of the series, we will trace ShareChat’s product journey — right from its battle to attain the product-market fit in the initial years, when cheap smartphones meant limited tech specs, to the present, when Bharat has become the buzzword for tech companies operating in the country.

Inside The Product Jukebox Of Swiggy

The food delivery space is difficult to navigate. Consumers look for discounts on random apps instead of sticking to just one. It is tough to differentiate the business when too many platforms target the same customers and list a similar set of restaurants. And to top it all, margins are mostly wafer-thin at single-digit percentages.

“Most of the companies around us were letting the restaurant guys do the delivery bit while they did the aggregation. But we realised from Day 1 that we could never ensure the kind of reliability we want if we did just that,” says Anuj Rathi, a vice-president of products who joined Swiggy in 2016.

To make its product reliable, Swiggy decided to dive deep into technology and develop operational excellence. For example, it was the first foodtech app to display the real-time location of a delivery executive. Also, in a country like India, it is still difficult to pinpoint a delivery destination with just a street address — a pain point that Swiggy took into account at the outset.

What are the product frameworks that the food delivery company uses to conceptualise and build features? How does it scale up in new markets? How did the Covid-19 pandemic impact the structure of its product organisation? The questions are many, and the answers are intriguing as featured in the last article of this series. Be a part of the discovery tour and experience the fast-evolving product journey. 

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