How Razorpay, BrowserStack Built Their High-Growth Product Teams

How Razorpay, BrowserStack Built Their High-Growth Product Teams


To talk about engineering high growth product teams, we invited Kaushik Subramanian, BrowserStack’s director of products Snehal Patel, Razorpay product head Khilan Haria — and moderating the discussion was Pallav Nadhani of and Fusioncharts fame

Razorpay’s Khilan Haria believes product management is a catch-all role with an entrepreneurial attitude crucial to running a successful product team

Subramanian said it makes sense to test problem-solving in product role candidates rather than those willing to work long hours without a focus

You survived 2020! But will you survive the product revolution?

Join 10,000+ product leaders, makers, marketers and designers leading the change at India’s largest product conference – The Makers Summit 2021 here!

The Product Summit, hosted by Inc42 and The Product Folks earlier this month, saw rockstar founders and product leaders delving deep into what makes a great product. While Zerodha’s Nithin Kamath and Zoho’s Sridhar Vembu spoke about building products ground up in a bootstrapped startup, WhiteHat Jr’s Karan Bajaj and Oyo’s Ritesh Malik revealed the secrets of scaling up rapidly in global markets.  

While TPS 2020 was filled with insights about product-market fit, growth models and designing products for SMBs, the realisation dawned upon us that we would be putting the horse before the cart if we didn’t have a panel to brainstorm about the nuances of engineering a high growth product team.

To talk about the subject, we invited Kaushik Subramanian, BrowserStack’s director of products Snehal Patel, Razorpay product head Khilan Haria — and moderating the discussion was Pallav Nadhani of and Fusioncharts fame.

Adopting Guiding Metrics For Product Teams

Metrics are central to a product manager’s function — driving decisions from which bug fixes to prioritise what product iterations need to be made to move the needle on customer delight. Latching on to the subject, Pallav Nadhani asked the product leaders on the panel how to choose the right metrics that can serve as a compass for product teams.

Kaushik Subramanian fielded the question saying that he is not a fan of compound metrics — indices such as profit per impression, weighted query relevance and impression share opportunity are jargons that don’t help in setting clear directions or zeroing in on product problems.

“I think, ideally, you should try and get the simplest thing that probably your grandmother can understand. That just makes it easy for teams to work towards moving that metric,” the veteran product leader said.

Metrics not only inform goals of a product team, but are also crucial to determining which levers need to be pulled at different points in time to drive user behaviour. This is why there should be a clear set of actions that a product team can take to help move certain metrics. “It’s sometimes helpful to also think about what are some of the things that can move a metric, both in the positive and in negative way, so that teams can work accordingly,” said Subramanian. 

Browsertstack’s Snehal Patel jumped in saying that metrics should be aligned with business objectives so that a product team can work backwards and figure out what their deliverables are. For example, if a SaaS company has a certain annual recurring revenue (ARR) goal, the product function can contribute by driving engagement so that customers purchase bigger-ticket subscriptions. 

On the other hand, if the product-market fit stage is yet to be reached then the product team would align itself by prioritising conversion metrics. “In that case, I will help in improving the free trial conversion by users realising the aha moments in the product sooner”, said Patel. 

Building An Entrepreneurial Product Team

Though aligning with the startup’s business objectives is an important part of the product team’s mission, it doesn’t mean that product people should be straitjacketed into plugging fulfilling revenue goals and ticking boxes passed on by the leadership.  

At this point, Nadhani asked the panellists how does a tech startup build an efficient and entrepreneurial product team both in terms of hiring and the organisational structure at different stages of the product.

Razorpay’s Khilan Haria, who earlier headed the product function at Treebo Hotels and worked as a product manager at Yahoo, said “I think PM is a very catch-all role. So the first thing I look for when I hire when I build teams is someone who has a skin-in-the-game attitude and is willing to do anything and everything to solve the problem.”

But stepping in to fix problems as and when needed doesn’t mean a product manager should forever go on rolling up his sleeves to get the job done — rather it’s about finding structural answers which can remedy the situation for the long haul.

For this reason, Subramanian believes it makes more sense to make a hire looking at their wider perspective on problems rather than choosing someone who’s “wanting to kill themselves working.”

“I think, therefore, it makes sense to hire a good mix of people who are generalists. Because as your product moves through different stages, you will need to have people who can also move in the same at the same velocity and are able to flex also in the same way,” added Subramanian.  

Join 10,000+ product leaders, makers, marketers and designers leading the change at India’s largest product conference – The Makers Summit 2021 here!

How To Marshall A Product Team

Making the right product hires is just half the battle — the other half is marshaling them to balance both customer delight and business objectives optimally. While product leaders track metrics to judge how the company is faring on both ends, Subramanian feels that customer interviews get left out a lot.

“I think it’s very important to specifically allocate capacity towards that, instead of just saying that ‘we will talk to a customer at some point in time,” he said.

A good test for whether customer problems are being taken into account is whether a straight line can be drawn from them to the product road map — if the answer is no then the user’s voice isn’t being integrated with the product.

Having climbed the product function ladder right up to the top during a 5-year-long stint at Loreal, Subramanian said that in consumer brands it was mandatory for product managers to spend time in the market even if that meant visiting a mandi, but this is something that does not happen enough in the tech world. 

However, takeaways from direct customer interviews can’t be straightaway integrated by product teams in tech companies that have reached a certain scale. According to Browsterstack’s Patel, product managers need to ask a few more questions —  is this customer problem backed up by data? Will solving it contribute towards revenues? Will it help increase engagement? Would it result in a great Net Promoter Score? 

The way these questions are answered in Browserstack is by setting up small teams of product managers and representatives of other functions.

“For each of our product teams, we have multiple squads and every squad has 1 or more PM(s), 1 engineering manager, 4-5 engineers, 1 quality assurance member and a designer. They all have the same squad-level impact based OKRs (objective key results) that they are all working towards,” Patel had earlier told Inc42.

Creating A Playbook For The Product Team

For Haria, implementing a product playbook is as important as chalking up metrics to move the troops around. He said that a product leader should document the practices for the product managers who work in the team. 

“It’s important to set up guidelines around how to go about creating a product strategy, how to diligently do quarterly roadmap planning, how to do conceptualisation in the building phase and the stuff you need to do in the go-to-market phase”, said the product leader. 

Product management being a relatively new function that arose with the rise of Silicon Valley, tech companies everywhere have come to rely on its playbooks for a template to work on.

Subramanian feels that taking those frameworks as gospel truth and copying them to fit India’s realities won’t work. “I sense blind followership, which I don’t think is necessarily valid or warranted. There’s a lot of great work happening outside the Valley in different parts of the world and in different companies.” 

Update: 9:30 PM, 25th October

Kaushik Subramanian’s designation omitted.

This article is part of our coverage around The Product Summit 2020 by Inc42, which took place on October 10 & October 11. TPS 2020 was supported by Amplitude, AWS, Dell Technologies, and DigitalOcean.

Missed TPS 2020? To access the exclusive TPS Session recordings, PPTs and upcoming sessions on products, click here! 

You have reached your limit of free stories
Become An Inc42 Plus Member

Become a Startup Insider in 2024 with Inc42 Plus. Join our exclusive community of 10,000+ founders, investors & operators and stay ahead in India’s startup & business economy.

Unlock 60% OFF
Cancel Anytime
Unlock 50% OFF
Cancel Anytime
Already A Member?
Discover Startups & Business Models

Unleash your potential by exploring unlimited articles, trackers, and playbooks. Identify the hottest startup deals, supercharge your innovation projects, and stay updated with expert curation.

How Razorpay, BrowserStack Built Their High-Growth Product Teams-Inc42 Media
How-To’s on Starting & Scaling Up

Empower yourself with comprehensive playbooks, expert analysis, and invaluable insights. Learn to validate ideas, acquire customers, secure funding, and navigate the journey to startup success.

How Razorpay, BrowserStack Built Their High-Growth Product Teams-Inc42 Media
Identify Trends & New Markets

Access 75+ in-depth reports on frontier industries. Gain exclusive market intelligence, understand market landscapes, and decode emerging trends to make informed decisions.

How Razorpay, BrowserStack Built Their High-Growth Product Teams-Inc42 Media
Track & Decode the Investment Landscape

Stay ahead with startup and funding trackers. Analyse investment strategies, profile successful investors, and keep track of upcoming funds, accelerators, and more.

How Razorpay, BrowserStack Built Their High-Growth Product Teams-Inc42 Media
How Razorpay, BrowserStack Built Their High-Growth Product Teams-Inc42 Media
You’re in Good company