Can you imagine asking a company in Silicon Valley today, “Do you analyze data to make decisions?” But back when I built the first version of Mixpanel in 2008, almost no one could say “yes” to that question, since it was incredibly hard to even get data in the first place.
When I sent my first analytics report to my first paid customer via Gchat, it was literally me running SQL queries and telling the customer what I was seeing—no UI, not even a website! I was just some software guy, who ditched gaming for analytics, geeking out on data.
Suddenly, my first real product was getting traction. I got a co-founder, Tim Trefren, a fellow ASU student. We made it through Y Combinator and started to scale. More people wanted to use our product and actually pay for it.
Because we had decided to do the harrowing task of building something that never existed before, we very quickly had to think about the challenges of scaling our product, and what the next phase of our growth would be.
Just as quickly, we were asking ourselves: what happens next?
I believe that somewhere between startup and mid-stage company, all product leaders come to this fork in the road, when you ask yourself: can I turn my prototypes and betas into a world-class product and business?
That fork generally happens after product/market fit, when you’ve found a group of users who love your scrappy, patched-together product. That’s when, suddenly, you realize this is where the real work begins.
The universal nature of this experience led the team at The Signal to create a mini-anthology of their favorite interviews with some of the most notable product leaders in Silicon Valley, titled How to Grow as a Product Leader.
Everyone from my friend and mentor, Max Levchin, to Rand Fishkin, Danielle Morrill, Hunter Walk, and Steven Sinofsky talked to The Signal candidly about their successes and their failures over the years. Each has so much wisdom to impart—wisdom I would have loved to receive before I learned things the hard way. And every one of them is more passionate about the power of products today than when they started out, just like I am.
Whether you’re feeling discouraged about your work or you’re looking for inspiration from the best, we know this eBook is something you’ll turn to when you reach your fork in the road.