I'm Latif Nanji. Co-founder and CEO of Roadmunk. I love everything product management. AMA!

I’m Latif, I spend most of my time musing around product management, design and how to get startups from $0-1m, or $0-10m with little to no funding, in a sustainable way. That means, adding the right few members of the team first, who can be lean and get shit done.

I love talking about building demand generation business (ie. not need for big sales teams), customer success, finding the right funding partner (if you even need it) and founder health (most important). Reading, climbing, float tanks, improv are all things I love.

I will be here on February 6th at 9:30 AM EST. AMA! :zap: :bulb:

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This AMA is closed for questions now. Please check upcoming AMAs for the upcoming guest lineup. :slight_smile:

Get to know Latif better: :v:

Here are a few links to help you take a quick peek into Latif’s thought process before the AMA:

“Choosing to build a company around a problem you know will save you months (six, in my case) of chasing the wrong vision.”

“There are many paths to finding a technical co-founder, none of which are easy. And none of which are quick. Finding a job in product management or at a software startup, building relationships with developers (and learning from them), applying to programs that connect smart people — these initiatives all take a serious commitment, focus, investment in learning, and perseverance.”

“I realized that if I don’t know the customer and market more than the executive, I’d be swooped in on and sidelined when it came to the roadmap.”

“Your roadmap should be a statement of intention, not a statement of commitment.”

Hello @latifnanji ,

It is great to have you here. Thanks a lot for taking the time to share the great things you’ve figured out building Roadmunk! :slight_smile:

Given that you’ve lived and breathed the nuances of product roadmaps, I have two questions for you:

  1. For an early-stage, B2B startup, say, one with less than 25 customers, how would you recommend they should approach a roadmap? What are some of the usual mistakes you’ve seen people making at that stage?
  2. Also, what are your thoughts on exposing the roadmap to customers and letting them vote on it? When is the right time to do it? Would you recommend doing it in the early stages, if at all?

Thanks, again!

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What is your approach to balancing tech-debt improvements vs adding features?

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Hey Latif, thank you for doing this AMA.

If you were do it all over again (0-1M), how would you approach demand generation in your space in the early days? What mistakes would you advice your younger self to avoid? In what areas would you start investing in from the beginning for demand gen?

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Can you elaborate a bit more on your learnings around finding the right funding partner? Would love to learn how you’ve arrived at defining the right ones.

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How did you arrive at a repeatable/ scaleable demand gen model/ process. What sort of experimentation and how did you go about finding that 1-2 channels that work well. Would love to learn more about that.

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At the half to $1 m ARR stage, how did you go about creating greater alignment and goal setting to manage the team better. OKRs / other planning/ goal setting frameworks. 1-1s, quarterly reviews etc. The nuts and bolts of how you manage the team.

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Hey Latif,

In your blog, you had mentioned that you had 30% of your customers paying annually and you ran a discount campaign and so you doubled your annual subscriptions.

  1. While this works in the short term to keep people intact for the next 12 months, what did you do in terms of product to ensure they renew at the end of current term ?
  2. Did you continue to renew them with the same discount next/subsequent years or move them to regular annual pricing?
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Founder Health is really important. How do you change it from an ‘intent’ to an ‘action’?

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Hey Latif,

I have a small set of questions concerning demand generation at an early stage startup. I wanted to understand:

  1. How do you go about outbound activities, email giving the highest conversion rates is becoming a bit challenging to handle. We aim to send across 10k emails/ day using gmail.

The process being :

(a) Scrapping the web, particularly LinkedIn to obtain the firstname, lastname and domain. Using that to create emails by inputting popular patterns. We send these emails to the free email verification tools available on the web.

At last, I end up with 3-4 emails for one contact with 60-80% deliverability rates.

(b) Around here, we intend to use gmail api for multiple gsuite users in a relay to send emails. So, if I have 5 users, I’m able to send ( 1.5k*5 = 7.5k emails )/day.

Now I intend to buy two domains, one for finding the testing and finding the correct email out of those 3-4 emails & the second one for sending the message.

Is there a better way/improvisations I should do? We’re tight on budget for buying database tools like ZoomInfo. Plus, am I spamming too much? But isn’t that necessary?

  1. What kind of ratio should I maintain while going on generic outbound email campaigns & personalized outbounds? Currently, we’re sending 4.5k generic outbounds daily and 25-50 personal
    emails.

In your experience, which one works better?

  1. What kind of cadence, I should follow? Currently, the ones in place are cadence 5 & 6 from below:
    https://www.freshworks.com/freshsales-crm/sales-strategy/sales-cadence-blog/ ( download link )

  2. What’s your opinion for outbound calls in the US? In India, I seem to convert 2 out of 10 calls into a meeting, apparently, in the US the ratio is somewhat 2 out of 100. Are there any tips and tricks to it? Or my numbers are wrong, need to improve upon that.

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Users/Customers change jobs for different reasons. They may either Churn & Leave OR handover & Leave. Some of them might have had a good experience with your product.

Have you setup any program to reconnect with past users in their new job ? Have you had any success with that? If so, whether Marketing or Sales/CS runs it ?

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Hi Latif!

Thanks so much for offering to share your wisdom with the community here!

The world of product roadmap software is obviously a busy one (as with every popular SaaS category) – so my question is around competition:

  • How do you ensure your marketing and positioning allows Roadmunk to stand out?
  • How much personal headspace do you give to what your competitors are doing?

Thank you!

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As a founder, how do you feel about being contradicted by your employees. What is the difference in your approach between the situations when they back up their arguments with data versus with anecdotal stories?

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Hi everyone, Latif will be joining us in just a bit. In the meantime, feel free to ask another question (or two). :muscle:

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Hi all thanks for having…time to GO GO GO!

  1. So early thoughts on a roadmap. One, its OKAY that its a list of shit to do. Think about how you can serve the general population of your customers and don’t be afraid to say NO to the big customers. They will look shiny but in the long run demand and abuse your roadmap MORE!

  2. I think its important to take on a non-time based approach. But most importantly build a cadence of predicability internally. Can you ship 1-2 big things a quarter? And can you stick to what you start? If so, I’m all for it.

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Large question here!

I think that product managers have to fully own this with the eng leads.

So at the beginning of a quarter, lets say, what is the tech debt a product has, what are its limitations for scaling, and how do you want to prioritize those projects?

I like to think that the average team can do 40% NEW, 30% improvements 30% tech/infra.

And if each quarter you analyze how much you’ve done across those benchmarks, then you can see if you need re-adjust going forward :slight_smile:

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Krish! Thanks for having me! Love your software :slight_smile:

Demand gen is a beautiful thing. It enabled us to build a tiny sales team vs using BDR’s and outbound to drum up leads.

We approached it thoughtfully and aggressively. For 6 months after our seed round we had a larger marketing team than engineering team (not common, and not advised generally). But for that burst, we produced CONTENT. And it was well-written (not just bogus noise), it was against keywords (that the target end user wanted) and it was constant + evergreen.

We also tied it into our product with templates – this is how a huge % of our users start using our application, and if the keyword -> template -> product are connected, it reduces friction on the flywheel.

My advice: GET YOUR MARKETING ENGINE GOING EARLIER THAN YOU THINK.

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The right partner :thinking:

Well. One thing I’ve learned is that empathy is a huge component of finding a right partner. Can they be understanding of all the “things” going on and advise in a focused manner?

One thing that underpins empathy is generally having been an operator in the first place. Not to say a VC can’t be empathetic without operating, but the correlation is MUCH lower.

Then it comes down to understanding your business. Are you really going to build a Billion dollar company and need VC capital, or do you know that going for that mid-size 100-300m range is a better fit for growth equity? Lots to unravel here, BUT, someone whose empathetic and operator are two qualities I look for.

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At $1m ARR, truthfully we didn’t do any of those OKR models. We had a revenue target and did 1:1’s. It was all about shipping FAST and winning business.

I’m still torn on OKR’s as they require strong data infrastructure, ability to communicate all those metrics and that early on when you’re going from 1->10m its all about product-market fit and the funnel.

So if you’re tracking product metrics of engagement and how your funnel is performing (and tie those to the teams), I think thats more than enough.

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