How entrepreneurship helped me become a true-blue product manager

Vishnu - OpenerSpeaks | Associate Product Manager

Table of content

I kickstarted my engineering back in CUSAT, Cochin out of sheer passion for coding. I’ve always set my heart on building tech products & was an active part of all startup communities. 

During my third year of college, along with my friends, I embarked on my first career venture. We built the first virtual publishing platform in India for vernacular languages where authors can signup & directly publish their content.

Within two years of operations, we had raised a seed funding & were awarded the best emerging IT startup of Kerala 2016 by NASSCOM.

This experience helped me gain a better understanding of the factors that traditional offline businesses consider while transitioning to ‘digital’. I also got to internalize what founders go through on a day-to-day basis while managing their business.

Unfortunately, we had to shut down the company. And while my other co-founders moved to different jobs, I moved to Delhi to pursue my MBA & restarted my product management journey again with a CRM company in the Edtech space.

Vishnu - OpenerSpeaks | Associate Product Manager

My virtual entry into Open

I joined Open as an Associate Product Manager at a time when the pandemic had just begun. I was slightly skeptical of how joining a team remotely would hinder how I bond with the team.

But unlike what I presumed, it was fascinating to see how tightly-knit the entire team was.  Everyone was missing OpenHQ (the office), so badly. So much so that they’d talk about the fun stuff that used to happen in the office which used to pump me up daily!  

PS: Openers have some really cool and crazy office rituals 😛


Being a Product Manager

One of the key roles of a Product Manager is to collaborate with multiple people across several departments — it’s often the most challenging part. But at Open, the infectious vibe which brings people together acts like the perfect glue to address this challenge.

New beginnings

One of the first tasks I got to work on is the onboarding aspect of the platform. It was a very interesting yet ever-evolving project to work on. At Open, we cater to the banking needs of small businesses & we strive to give them a seamless onboarding experience. It is important to figure out a smooth user journey while ensuring we comply with RBI’s KYC guidelines.

Launching a VISA business card was another stimulating project that I was a part of. Building products in the payment space involves a significant amount of collaboration with multiple stakeholders — starting from banks, card issuing authorities, compliance bodies & internal teams. Interacting with them & transforming a complex system into an easy-to-use product was a very absorbing yet rewarding task.

Apart from these, my day-to-day work at Open revolved around working hard at improving the user experience & making it more seamless. With this approach, I firmly believe that we can optimise product performance to a large extent.

Vishnu | Associate Product Manager | OpenerSpeaks

The roadblocks & how I overcame them

One of the biggest challenges I faced was the sheer size of the business & transactional volumes. Looking at the right metrics in the right way is crucial because numbers can be tricky. Decoding what they convey without getting your bias to manipulate your judgement is critical. 

Also, while dealing with a system which is the financial backbone of more than 1 MN businesses, you’ve got to be extra careful with new feature releases or even minor modifications. 

As a product manager, you must be able to quickly detect & respond to user behaviours. I started working very closely with customer-facing departments. Regular interactions with them have helped create a faster feedback loop with our customers. 

Also, this helped our team navigate through & validate multiple hypotheses. These interactions with customer-facing teams who really understand the pulse of the customers helped in translating data to actionable insights.

Identifying the problem statement before jumping into solutions is crucial. Our brain is always hardwired to turn on the problem-solving mode as it always feels good to have a quick solution. But jumping into a solution without defining the problem always ends up creating non-scalable solutions, which will eventually create more difficult problems. Navigating this mindset is often tricky and challenging.

To keep up with external competition and market developments, we often have to push to speed up innovation cycles. Developing a product and getting it to market too quickly can mean it goes off the rails without a clearly defined customer-focused framework. This is where having the product excellence framework in place can help product managers deal with these challenges. 


The way forward

Today, more businesses are evolving into using new cashless modes of payments. The payments solutions that Open offers are designed to create a smooth & end-to-end experience for customers. 

My goal is to help small businesses bank smartly by helping them track their entire money movement in one place. 

We’re already on the quest to achieve this goal & I eagerly look forward to the exciting times ahead. If you’re on the lookout for a career where your work will impact the way millions of businesses bank, come join the Open tribe. 😉


Other Openspeakers –

Neobanking for SMEs: A lawyer’s take on fintech

Going the distance: How entrepreneurship made me a better product manager

Going beyond a portfolio career


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