Can product managers be effective founders?

Hello, I’m interested in a job in product management because I want to learn how to create my own engaging products and start a start-up or business.

Is this a reasonable goal to have? Does it fit with a product manager’s career? I’ve discovered that most product founders are technical professionals who identify a problem and develop a solution. Despite being generalists rather than techies, are similar situations frequently encountered by product managers?


While it is true that most product founders are technical professionals, the role of a product manager also involves identifying problems and developing solutions. Product managers work closely with cross-functional teams to understand market needs, gather feedback, and drive the development of innovative products.


Product management is a dynamic field that involves identifying problems and developing solutions. As a product manager, you will have the opportunity to work closely with cross-functional teams, understand market needs, gather feedback, and drive the development of innovative products. By gaining experience in product management, you can acquire the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of creating your own appealing product and potentially starting your own successful firm. With dedication and hard work, it is definitely possible to achieve your goal with a career in product management.


Could not agree less with @KaneMorgan. By gaining experience in product management, you can acquire the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of creating your own appealing product and potentially starting your own successful firm. It is definitely possible to achieve your goal with a career in product management.


Being a product manager at an early stage startup is probably one of the best learning opportunities if you wish to be a founder. Here are a few tips to help you succeed in this field:

Stay curious and keep learning: Product management is a rapidly evolving field, so it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and market dynamics. Continuously seek out new knowledge and be open to exploring new ideas.

Develop strong communication skills: As a product manager, you’ll be collaborating with various teams and stakeholders. Effective communication is essential to convey your vision, gather feedback, and align everyone towards a common goal.

Build a solid network: Networking is key to success in any field, and product management is no exception. Connect with professionals in the industry, attend conferences, and join relevant communities or organizations to expand your network. This can provide valuable insights, mentorship opportunities, and potential career advancement. Additionally, building relationships with stakeholders outside of your immediate team can help you gain support and foster collaboration when working on cross-functional projects. By actively participating in networking activities, you can stay up-to-date with industry trends, leverage the expertise of others, and establish yourself as a credible and influential product manager in your field. Ultimately, a strong network can open doors to new opportunities and help you navigate challenges more effectively.


Absolutely, especially if the startup is big enough for the founder to focus primarily on business development. If the company’s founder is still representing the product… From a product standpoint, you can see what a founder should avoid doing.


It’s just one of many components. A successful founder (or group of co-founders) should be able to pinpoint a consumer need, raise money, develop a solution to solve the problem, sell the solution to potential customers, and market to additional potential customers. In addition to these skills, a successful founder should also possess strong leadership qualities to effectively manage a team and navigate challenges that may arise during the development and growth stages of the business. Furthermore, they should have a clear vision for the future of their company and be able to adapt their strategies accordingly in order to stay competitive in the market.


It depends.

Are you a PM in a stodgy old firm without much innovation? Probably not going to help?

You should ask yourself the following:

  • Will I gain exposure to tech that will help my future startup?
  • Will I gain a reputation for working on bleeding edge tech and get that halo from working at Google or a top startup?
  • Will I gain 0-1 exposure building something big and new but with a salary?
  • Will I gain a network of engineers, data scientists and designers (even fellow PMs) that can potentially join my startup? ->probably the most valuable thing here.

Even though there is a lot of overlap, the responsibilities are still extremely different, particularly if you are a PM at a big organization. I believe that working as a PM while starting a side business is the ideal experience. Having the experience of being a PM at a big organization provides valuable insights into managing complex projects, teams, and budgets. This expertise can be applied to effectively navigate the challenges of starting and running a side business, making it an advantageous combination for aspiring entrepreneurs. Additionally, the diverse skill set acquired as a PM can help in balancing priorities, making strategic decisions, and ensuring efficient operations for both the main job and the side business.


It can be a rewarding experience if the PM is in a situation where they genuinely have influence over the product’s path and accountability for whether it succeeds in the market. The prevalence of that environment is not as high as it should be.

Unfortunately, in many organizations, PMs can end up being glorified program managers whose primary duty is to receive instructions from those who actually determine the direction of the product, translate those instructions into requirements to be provided to the development team, and then track development activity in relation to those requirements.

It’s not a good experience for a future founder to be in that latter type of setting because you won’t be developing your ability to identify problems that need solving and your ability to empathize with customers in order to develop a solution vision.


PM is a wonderful place to start because it combines all the tasks that a founder generally has to do. Business, Law, Marketing, Technology, Operations, Human Resources, and Executive At smaller, growing businesses, you’ll learn a lot more and frequently have the opportunity to work with or learn from entrepreneurs.


Here are a some points to ponder:

The importance of understanding market needs: Product managers play a crucial role in identifying and understanding the needs of their target market. By delving deeper into this topic, you could explore how product managers conduct market research, analyze customer feedback, and use these insights to develop successful products.

The art of product development: Product managers are responsible for overseeing the entire product development process, from conceptualization to launch. They collaborate with cross-functional teams, such as engineers and designers, to ensure that the final product meets the desired specifications and fulfills customer requirements. Understanding the intricacies of product development can greatly enhance your chances of creating innovative and successful products.

Effective communication and leadership skills: Product managers act as the bridge between different teams and stakeholders involved in the product’s lifecycle. They must possess excellent communication and leadership skills to effectively convey their vision, prioritize tasks, and resolve conflicts. Developing these skills can enable you to effectively lead and inspire your team towards achieving product success.

Iterative approach and adaptability: Product managers need to be able to adapt and adjust their strategies throughout the product development process. They should be open to feedback, willing to make necessary changes, and able to pivot if needed. This iterative approach allows for continuous improvement and ensures that the product is meeting the evolving needs of the market. It also allows for faster decision-making and reduces the risk of costly mistakes. Overall, being adaptable and embracing an iterative approach is crucial for product managers to stay ahead in a dynamic and competitive market.

Challenges faced by product managers: Managing cross-functional teams and balancing various stakeholder interests can be complex tasks for product managers. You could discuss common challenges they face, such as prioritizing features, aligning with the company’s overall strategy, and resolving conflicts between different teams.

Additionally, another challenge product managers often encounter is staying up-to-date with changing market trends and technological advancements, as this requires continuous learning and adaptability. Despite these challenges, product managers play a crucial role in driving innovation and delivering valuable products that meet customer needs.


No doubt good co-founders. We faced a sales-related issue with our B2B startup because neither of us had a lot of experience. I spoke about the product, the marketing, and the content, but I had trouble selling. My co-founder was a fantastic programmer. As a result, we bootstrapped and created a usable product but struggled to maintain steady sales. We realized that in order to overcome our sales challenges, we needed to bring someone on board who had expertise in sales and business development. We decided to hire a seasoned sales professional who could help us scale our B2B startup and bring in consistent revenue. With their guidance, we were able to improve our sales strategies and ultimately achieve a more stable and successful business.


IT project management, which I see as being akin to product management, is where my career began. I find that, because of my experience in project management, managing a business comes naturally to me. I don’t believe being a technical is necessary for making the switch from PM to full-time founder. In the end, I only really need to do technical things when I’m working on my website funnel, and that’s mainly because it allows me to do technical design work while still saving money.

The rest has been delegated. If you have experience working in Scrum or Agile environments, managing numerous sprints at once is similar to being the scrum master. Both roles require strong organizational skills and the ability to prioritize tasks effectively. However, as a full-time founder, my focus is more on the overall business strategy and growth than solely on technical aspects. By delegating technical tasks and utilizing my management skills, I can ensure that all aspects of the business are running smoothly while still being involved in the technical design work that is essential for my website funnel.

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If your ultimate objective is to launch your own start-up, getting involved in product management for a while is not a terrible idea if you plan to launch a product-focused business. However, being a strong product manager does not necessarily translate into being a good founder, because the two positions are unrelated. Your ability to communicate and solve problems will likely improve as a PM, which will be beneficial to you as an entrepreneur.

As a product manager, you will gain valuable experience in understanding market needs, conducting market research, and managing timelines and resources. These skills will greatly contribute to your success as a founder, as they are essential for developing and launching a successful product. Additionally, being a product manager will expose you to various stakeholders and allow you to build a strong network, providing you with potential mentors or investors when you decide to start your own venture. Therefore, while being a product manager may not directly guarantee success as a founder, it can significantly increase your chances and provide a solid foundation for your entrepreneurial journey.