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Mina Radhakrishnan

EIR at Redpoint Ventures & special advisor at Cowboy Ventures. Ex-Head of Product at Uber.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 14, 2015

Discussion

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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
Hi everyone! Mina here - I'm currently an EIR at Redpoint, an advisor at Cowboy Ventures and a startup Product Management consultant. I love talking about tech, but also lots of other stuff including geeky subculture documentaries, competitive scrabble and the best ways to optimize credit card travel rewards. If I wasn't here, I'd be planning my next flight, which I intend to do right after this chat. :) Looking forward to your questions.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Mina! Welcome. Why did you leave Uber (back in October 2014 as the Head of Product)? I can imagine that decision was hard, especially as Uber's continued to grow (today they just expanded into Postmates territory with UberRUSH).
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Koji Kanao@twelvejapan · Web/iPhoneApp dev/legal tech startup
Hi Mina, what are you keeping a close eye on technology now and why?
Hi Mina, We met a couple of weeks ago at a conference. You mentioned one of your favorite product blogs which I seem to have remembered incorrectly. Could you share what blogs or other resources you find helpful for product managers? Thanks, Russell
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@sinklair so many good blogs and resources out there. I love Always Be Shipping by friend/colleague Tom Leung, anything and everything that Ken Norton writes, ditto for Julie Zhuo (who has an amazing perspective on the interaction between product/design). Also I like Intercom on Product Management. I also think it's important for PMs to be thinking about design and eng so UX blogs and even eng blogs from favourite companies are a great way to have a sense of what matters to the people you're working with most closely.
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Luke McGrath@lukejmcgrath · Writer
@minarad hey Mina, I have a 2 year old daughter and another girl on the way, as someone who has succeeded in a more than one male-dominated industry, what would you say are the key things I should pass on to them so they can choose any path they want?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@lukejmcgrath Love this question. One thing that I'm so grateful for was that I had a dad who was so encouraging - not for one second did it even occur to me that I shouldn't be good at math, science, etc. I love it when people just treat the desire to explore and try new things as something normal and not extraordinary. Playing with Legos and Barbies, programming and swimming courses. The other big thing that I'm really grateful to my parents for was that we grew up all around the world. Having that perspective is really helpful in places where where you consciously look around and recognize that you're not the same as everyone else, especially in executive meetings.
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Luke McGrath@lukejmcgrath · Writer
@minarad @lukejmcgrath great answer, thank you!
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Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Hey Mina! Thanks so much for doing this AMA! Uber has such a simple and amazing product experience. You press a button. A car comes. What were the key questions you had to ask and the process you had to go through to really WOW users with the product from such a simple experience? Best, Sydney
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@sydney_liu_sl I think one of the most important things to maintain was the feeling of magic. It's like separating technology from the experience, and bring that to the forefront. So, questions that we asked ourselves are what do people NOT want to be doing on their phone in calling a car, or for that matter, getting out of the car. It's why the credit card process upfront at signup is such a critical piece of the press the button flow.
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Ankit Govil@ankitgovil · Product Manager, Ezetap
Hey Mina, Thank you so much for building a service like Uber. As a PM, were you afraid that connecting drivers and users might lead to transaction potentially happening outside the uber ecosystem. As a marketplace, what should product provide as a value to stakeholders.
Hi @minarad when do you think we will see an expansion of Uber Rush and Uber Eats into other markets? Also what are your favorite books?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@alfink92 I have so many favorite books but there are some that I read repeatedly. Some people are comfort eaters but I'm a comfort reader. When I'm down, I need to reread familiar books. Classics are Austen's Pride & Prejudice and anything by Agatha Christie. When I first moved to Canada, I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables and it was such a comforting book to read in a time of upheaval and culture shock. In general though, I read anything and everything. Books that I read and enjoyed recently are The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@minarad @alfink92 I also just started Cadillac Desert, which is about water in the American West. A fascinating read, especially given the drought situation today.
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jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@minarad @alfink92 So funny that you say this. Earlier today I was in my office and heard my daughter listening to Anne of Green Gables on Audible. Best $1 I've spent recently: http://www.audible.com/pd/Kids/A...
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John Reynolds@reynolds_wrap · director
MVPS - can you shed a little light on what is absolute min that you need to see for interest aka customers, revenue ect??
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Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Mina, thanks for joining us today! Across all of your achievements, what one thing are you most proud of?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@ems_hodge I'm so proud of having worked with great companies and teams, and I think some of those accomplishments will live far into the future, which is pretty humbling. However, one thing that I'm particularly proud of and hold dear to my heart is the work I've done with Minds Matter, an educational non-profit. It's a US-wide group that helps low-income high-school students get into and succeed in college. I feel privileged to have been able to work closely with so many of these students and know that I played a role in their lives in a very foundational time for them.
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Amir Pakzadian@amirp · Sr PM @ Amazon / Founder of Bia2.com
Hi Mina, what advice do you have for dealing with a situation when your managers (Not PMs) love adding unnecessary features to a product (to keep one or two customer happy) when you as a PM know this is a bad practice?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
That was fun! Thanks so much everyone. We're out for now but feel free to ping me anytime on www.minarad.com or @minarad on twitter. Thanks again!
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Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
How do you think about what you may want to work on next?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@eriktorenberg For me, the most important thing is to always be doing something new. Whether that's learning new industries, or working at different stages of a company, or even taking on a new role. I love product management, and I know that's where I want to be and where I can contribute the most but everything else is kind of visceral. I often use the framework - product, growth potential, people and in order of importance, people and growth potential so far outweigh product that I feel like I'd be happy to work on anything.
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Nicki Friis@nickifriisw · Entrepreneur. Former Partner @ Ideanote.
Hi Mina! What advice do you give to larger corporations about staying competitive against startups?
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Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Thanks so much for joining us. 2 Quick questions, what is your biggest takeaway from your time with @uber and I am having @ttunguz on my podcast @twentyminutevc soon, what questions would you like to hear Tom answer?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@harrystebbings If there's one thing I learned from Travis, it's that you never ask the question "Can it be done?". You only ask the question "How can it be done?". It's life-changing when you start to consider the world in that way, even if just for brief periods of time.
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jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@minarad @harrystebbings Love love love this answer. It changed my life when I learned that mental model. @joshkaufman talks about it quite a bit in the working with self section of his Personal MBA book. http://personalmba.com/counterfa... It's worth a read (or listen).
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Anush@aforanush
Hey Mina! Awesome of you to do this. When you think about the first pivotal (and possibly) scary move you made to put yourself on a path in successful roles at great companies, what was the move and what did you take in to consideration to make it happen?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@aforanush I'd love to say that I consciously chose the exact career path I planned. However, I think the story is better told in hindsight. In the process of going from one opportunity to another, I try to focus on my motivations to learn new things. For example, from GS -> Google, I wanted to learn the discipline of PM and really work at a tech company. From Modcloth -> Uber, I wanted to be super mobile-focused and be at a place where I could iterate quickly with a really small group of people. Ultimately, I think it's about being curious and not being afraid to try new things. One of my biggest fears that I had to deal with was being Canadian in the US and all the work visa issues associated with it. It's really hard when you're beholden to a company to stay in the place that you want and there was a lot of fear with moving jobs. In the end, it all worked out and I'm really glad that I didn't let that fear conquer the desire to try new things but at the time, it was scary.
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Justin F Harris@justinfharris · Co-Founder, Beehive
Hey Mina, Thanks for doing this AMA, 3 quick questions for you. Where will you be using your travel rewards to travel next and will you play scrabble while there? :) What are best practices for optimizing product sprints? What is the one thing you thing Cowboy and Redpoint look for when investing in companies?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@justinfharris Travel rewards - I'm trying to optimize the best way to book flights in between my two destination weddings in Mumbai and Mexico. It's been a challenge but I'm confident that we'll figure this out. :)
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@minarad @justinfharris apologies for pimping the blog a bit here, but it's probably more well written than what I could come up with on the spot. http://www.minarad.com/blog/2015...
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@minarad @justinfharris I think that being on the other side of the table has really reinforced the importance of people and growth potential for me. Especially early stage, the idea can be very nascent (even bad...) but the right people have the drive and the desire to get it right.
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Aseem Rohatgi@aseemrohatgi · All things random
Hi mina. Saw your awesome talk on heading product development at uber. What would your advise be to new product managers?
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Aseem Rohatgi@aseemrohatgi · All things random
Hi @minarad what's your secret to motivate developers and successful design sprints?
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jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
Thanks for being here, @minarad! @rrhoover tweeted earlier today about more and more examples of Uber for X (https://www.producthunt.com/e/ub...)... what customer needs do you see as being prime targets for the Uber model to fulfill?
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mina@minarad · eir@redpoint, advisor@cowboy, startupper
@jamestodd I wrote a blog post about this a little while ago: http://www.minarad.com/blog/2015.... Flippantly, I feel like the times when I most wish I had an on-demand service are when I'm sick and laid up on the couch watching netflix (is there a service for on-demand mom?) and when I need milk. Seriously, I think that the model succeeds when the experience of getting that item is less important than the item itself. In contrast, I like walking to get tea, especially because it's usually with a friend and there's a good conversation involved. The tea is good too but it's the whole thing that makes it meaningful for me. Similarly, I like the process of brewing tea so even though I love the product, the experiences associated with it are equally important and I'd never use an on-demand tea app. Of course, that's just me but replace the me with the broader market and then apply the idea.
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jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
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jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@minarad the closest thing I can think of to what you're talking about (on-demand mom) is @honor's new offering, but it is for grown up care vs. kids. I think you're right that serving that market might be a something.