When a Unique Idea Becomes a Norm


To ensure a good product interview experience, I either had to buy a $500 iPad or a $7 whiteboard. So I drilled a hole into my beautiful wall and hanged a whiteboard on it. Hopefully, my interviewer appreciates my effort 😉


It’s interesting how a unique idea implemented by a few people quickly becomes a norm (thanks to a platform!).

When Ben Thompson started his wildly popular blog called Stratechery, he chose to opt-out of ads. Instead, he built a subscription-based blog that required a ton of effort to set up. However, over the years, he has made a bank by collecting $10 per month per user rather than relying on Google Adsense.

After looking at his success, he is now known as the king of subscription newsletters and every blogger’s dream is to replicate his business model. There was a time when even I thought of writing a newsletter for a living.

Substack figured this out and basically built a cookie-cutter solution to subscription newsletters. Now hundreds of thousands of bloggers focus on the actual writing and let Substack take care of everything else from log in to payments and email marketing.

Similarly, a few people started what we know today as cold-emailing. You would somehow figure out an important person’s email, write them a small ask and hope they look at it.

Now Hunter.io is helping people find email address of any professional and LinkedIn is offering a platform to send anyone a cold email. It’s almost a norm that many recruiters/founders now mostly hire candidates through a cold email.

Shopify is also a great example. Tobi, Shopify’s CEO, wanted to build an online snowboard store. At that time, you could only sell products via Amazon. He engineered his way into hosting an online store and figured that building your own online store was very cumbersome.

When other businesses started requesting him to build an online store for them too, he found the need to build a platform that helps everyone build an online presence.

It’s interesting how subscription-based newsletters, cold-emails and online stores were basically an idea executed by few people or even a single person that eventually found product-market fit and were the inspiration to build massive platforms.

New Product Idea

Kaggle for Product Managers.

Imagine a platform where companies, like Kaggle, would post a product problem based on something they want to figure out and let aspiring PMs compete for a job/prize to create presentations/mockups to solve that specific problem for the company. It would help the company crowdsource creative ideas and help filter candidates based on what solution/plan they believe would help the company move forward.

Obviously, for the candidates it’s not only a great product experience but also a chance to land a Product Manager role at the company.

Hackathons are doing something similar in the offline space. However, imagine a Product Leader instantaneously writing a prompt and adding a few details such as deadlines and prizes to begin the competition.

What do you think? Ping me with any comments or feedback.

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