Product Camp Nashville 2011

17 November 2011 01:14 AM CST

This past weekend I attended an event in Nashville called Product Camp. The focus of the event was to learn all about product development, management, and marketing. At the event I had the opportunity to visit four sessions:

  1. Making Your Product Invisible (led by Evan Owens, Director of Consulting at CentreSource) - how to get your product so deeply integrated into daily behavior that users don't even think of it as a product anymore. In this session we discussed the fact that revolutions occur when products change user behavior, and tech is the best way to facilitate a change of behavior. Additionally, great emphasis was placed on answering the question "what problem do you solve and who do you solve it for?" Products that successfully solve problems become part of daily behavior.
  2. Which comes first? Creating a Meaningful Experience with Each Release (Led by Marc Sexton, Director of Product at Emma) - the focus of this session was on defining what your MINIMUM product offering can be. The perfect blend of marketable features and functionality. Getting a product into the hands of users is the best way to see if what you're offering is what people want. Then, listen to your customers and add features they want.  The focus was on a philosophy called the Cupcake Method.  Rather than bake an entire cake, bake cupcakes and bake them often.  Each product release should be considered a cupcake (tastes just as good as cake and has all the same ingredients but is smaller and easier to bring to market).
  3. Market Validation, Customer Development, and the Lean Startup (led by Marcus Whitney, CTO and Co-Founder at Moontoast) - this session was fantastic. The focus was on defining your customer, defining your product, and finding the perfect Product-Market fit. In order to understand if there is a market for your product you should conduct at least 100 interviews with potential customers (25 face-to-face and 75 over the phone or online). Next, the constant act of learning about your customers, their needs and desires, is Customer Development. Once you've defined your customer you must define your market. Market validation occurs when your customers actually purchase and use your product. Finally, this session discussed the concept of the Lean Startup. The Lean Startup is a learning organization seeking to discover a working business model. All entrepreneurial endeavors begin with ideas. Next, you build a product based off of your ideas. Once you have a product you deliver the product to the market. Next you must study your market and measure your success. Finally, with this data you can change or alter your product to better meet the needs and demands of the market. Great concepts to discuss and discover for all entrepreneurs.  Here's a picture I took during this session: 

  4. DIY Competitive Intelligence (led by Eric Dingus, Senior Analyst at Healthways) - this session introduced several free resources for analyzing your product's competitors. Amazingly, I already knew about most of these resources (and a few extra) because of all the competitive research I've done for my own companies.  For me, it was interesting to see how powerful LinkedIn can be.  I had never thought about how much information you can find on your competitor and your competitor's employees from LinkedIn.  Also, it was nice to be re-introduced to Google's Advanced Search capabilities.  I can see myself using that more regularly for all kinds of search inquiries.  One resource not discussed was CrunchBase.  If you're an entrepreneur or work for a startup company I suggest checking it out.  It's a fantastic resource with information on investors, entrepreneurs, and companies.

At Product Camp I also met several new people here in Nashville. It was a Saturday well spent.  Kudos to all involved with pulling off a wonderful event - John Herbold, Nathan King, Michael Lummus, Darin Moore, Matt DeVandry, and Jason Wilkins.