I don't remember what set it off, but I've had a couple ideas recently around consumer product manager meetups. There are two main meetup ideas, and probably thousands of spin-offs from those two.
I want to define who I think is the appropriate audience/participants in these, because it'll make the explainations of the meetups a little shorter.
- Consumer product managers. There are lots of events out there for product managers, but they're almost all focused on the traditional roles of a B2B product manager or sometimes eCommerce. Being a product manager for a consumer product is a different role with different challenges.
- Not your competitors. I wouldn't really want to go demo our latest-and-greatest to Glassdoor (well, maybe I would). Even if a company is in a different industry, the are lots of commonalities that we will be able to agree/disagree on. As an example, we met with a couple of people at RedFin today… and the overlap in problem and solution sets was enormous, even though they have a completely different business model and in a completely different industry.
- Not your co-workers. I love my co-workers, I really do. But, sometimes it's really good to get professional opinions from outside of your building.
How do I find this set of people? To the VCs! They don't invest in competitors. They invest in other consumer products. Their portfolio companies are the perfect place to start (and it's easy to get a response when you're working with the money people :-))
Anyways, back to the meetup ideas. For the first meetup, this is a demo session with questions, answers and feedback. The presenters (I'm guessing there would be between 2 to 4 each session) would show off their latest product/features/wireframes/whatever. Explain what we're seeing. Explain why we're seeing what we're seeing. And, then the group would colleaguely start asking questions, providing feedback, etc. My thinking was: when you know that you're product is going to be scrutinized by discerning eyes, there is extra incentive to come very prepared.
The second meetup would be more focused on theortical product management and development problems and solutions. Marty Cagan wrote a great book about product management, and there are a couple of others… but I feel like consumer product management is lacking a tome that is high enough quality that I would recommend it for reading. This meetup would be a bookless book club. I don't have an entire agenda laid-out, but I imagine a lot of specific problems being rolled up into abstractions and discussing how to handle those abstractions. Eventually, we'll write a book.
I kind of wish this were a wiki page, because I'd actually love for people to help me mold these ideas into meetups with actual value. If you're interested, you can find me on twitter or LinkedIn or in the comments of this blog.