Product Management in the Open - Lean Startup and Inspiration

This is the first article in the series about working on a mobile application - Best in Town / Best in Edinburgh - and applying the Lean Startup methodology and other good product management techniques.

A few words about myself. I come from a Software Engineering background, but I’ve always had a keen interest in Product Management. I’ve had a chance to be a Product Owner on a few different projects - it was very exciting. And I learnt how to translate a product vision to a roadmap and then to an actual deliverable. However, I didn’t have a chance to do ideation, market research, set up goals and metrics, experiment, pivot, and so on. So, one of the ideas behind my endeavour is to try to do that.

How it all Started

I was sitting in a new cafe[^1] in a trendy part of Edinburgh, UK and reading the ‘Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries. I was enjoying the vibe in the cafe and the winter sun outside, but I wasn't impressed with either the coffee or cakes which were on offer. The place was busy though. And TripAdvisor and Yelp both showed a relatively good rating.

The last fact led me to a thought - what is a rating on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and the other usual suspects? As a rating you get a single number - 4.1 stars, but what does it really mean? Does it mean that a place has a good coffee? Or maybe the brownies there are delicious? Or could it be a nice atmosphere and staff? Or is it a combination of all those factors?

What is a rating?

Hmm… but what if you are really interested in finding places that do coffee the best? Or any other favourite thing of yours? Or say, for example, you have friends over from abroad and want to surprise them with the best craft beer in town? How do you find it?

Say, you’re looking for a bar with amazing wine. You search for ‘wine’, but the existing apps will only throw at you a number of French restaurants. Granted, they would have great wine, but it’s not something you’re looking for. You just care about the quality of wine, nothing else.

Enter, Best in Edinburgh (or Best in Town it was known in those days). In Best in Town you can search for specific things - wine, craft beer, coffee, and it’ll show you ratings for those things only. So, if one bar has 5 stars for wine, but only 4 for cocktails, the app will tell you about it!

You can read more about the idea itself here.


[^1]: The cafe closed shut at some point that year. It was replaced by another one - Brill Jewellery & Coffee. Yes, it was a both a jewellery shop and a cafe. Nothing to be surprised about though. It was in in Stockbridge, Edinburgh - the most fashionable part of town.

Mike Borozdin (Twitter)
14 October 2018

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way. My personal thoughts tend to change, hence the articles in this blog might not provide an accurate reflection of my present standpoint.

© Mike Borozdin