In 2021, I was provided the opportunity to step into a product management role (PM) after years as a user experience (UX) designer. I said yes, and started learning on the job.
I wanted to supplement my experience with a more objective, structured environment to learn best practices. Startmate’s Product Management 101 Fellowship came at the perfect time.
I was particularly drawn to the Fellowship because:
The program ran remotely over Zoom for 7 weeks, with a one-week content break. During the break we participated in a hackathon with Startmate’s Accelerator cohort… but more on the hackathon later.
Harry & Julia (Jules) West - the Fellowship facilitator - set the scene in Week 0 during a virtual kickoff party where we got a breakdown of the course and resources, and got to know Harry, Jules, and the 52 fellows better.
On Mondays, Harry presented content, which included lots of questions and mini-exercises in Zoom breakout rooms with Miro.
On Wednesdays, a guest speaker shared their personal experiences & industry application on the relevant topic presented that week.
Occasionally there were bonus sessions (like several 15-minute ask-me-anything sessions with PMs and “How to find a PM role”) or social events on Thursdays.
On Fridays, Jules provided a weekly update via Slack & email.
All sessions were live, recorded to watch later, and posted on the program’s Notion page. There were weekly homework exercises focussed on applying what we learned to a digital product we frequently use, with the opportunity to post in Slack for feedback.
Each week we were provided with pre & post-reading articles, podcasts, and books to supplement what Harry & the guest speakers presented.
💥 Week 1: Intro to Product Management - Defined Product Management, typical roles that comprise the Product Team, the development process, and what makes a great PM. Loren Lam - a Group Product Manager at SafetyCulture - was the guest speaker.
✨ Week 2: Finding Meaningful Problems - Focussed on understanding customers through research and uncovering the most valuable problems to tackle. James Gabb and Matt Hinds - Founders of Sauce, and ex-Eucalyptus, Atlassian, and SafetyCulture - joined as guests this week.
⚡️ Week 3: Ideation and Validation - Discussed how to validate product problems with the Team by brainstorming, sketching, and prototyping solutions. Tanmay Jain was the guest speaker, the Founder of Qwokka, and ex. Atlassian, Canva & Amazon.
💪 Week 4: Prioritisation, Planning, and Product Development - Provided tactics to prioritise the most impactful solutions, define the roadmap and begin building the product. Josh Devenny - Head of Product at Atlassian, ex Brighte - spoke to us this week.
📈 Week 5: Driving Impact: Goals, Metrics & Experimentation - This was about delivering real impact with good goal setting, learning fast, and building confidence by experimenting. Corinna Stuken - VP of Product at Roam Digital - joined as the guest speaker this week.
🚀 Week 6: Launches, Go-To-Market & Storytelling - Taught us how to build buy-in, define a go-to-market strategy and ship a product. Tania Clarke - the Product Marketing Lead at Qwilr, ex-Atlassian and Safety Culture - was the guest speaker.
🤩 Week 7: Product Vision & Strategy - Discussed creating a compelling product vision and strategy that connects with your roadmap.
Having come from a UX design background, I was familiar with some of the concepts and methods in weeks 1-4. However, the content was a great refresher, and I enjoyed the bonus resources and the PM perspective on the topics from our guest speakers.
The topics I got the most value from because of where I was in my product management journey were the metrics, go-to-market, and vision and strategy sessions. The approaches shared were practical and tangible to nuanced and subjective topics. I will definitely be looking at these recordings and the resources provided in greater depth.
During the content break week halfway through the fellowship, we had the choice to team up with four of Startmate's S23 Accelerator startups to create a solution to an actual problem for them within one week. I chose Leesy, a company focussed on making it easier and faster to rent properties. After receiving the brief, our team…
Though the hackathon wasn’t mandatory, I highly recommend participating in it to further cement and apply learnings from the first half of the program and to get to know fellows and founders better.
The depth of the Startmate community exceeded my expectations, and I was impressed by the level of social engagement given it was a virtual program.
Our Fellowship and larger Startmate Slack group was active, I spoke to many Fellows 1:1 virtually, there were in-person monthly drinks, and everyone from guest speakers to Startmate employees, portfolio company founders, and others in the Startmate community was up for connecting.
I’m glad I did the Product Management 101 Fellowship, and I recommend it to others who are looking to expand their PM knowledge and network, whether they’re looking to break in or are at the beginning to middle stage of their product journey.
Startmate x Harry Hamilton Product Management 101 is a 7-week program that provides aspiring and early-stage product managers with the knowledge, skills and network to supercharge their product careers.Register Interest