Lessons from Gusto & Square on Finding Your Product Wedge | Michael Cieri

08 Feb 2024 • 59 min • EN
59 min
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Michael Cieri is the Chief Product Officer at Gusto, an HR and payroll platform used by more than 300,000 businesses. With a decade of experience, he has led successful SMB product development and scaled high-performing orgs. Before Gusto, Michael was also the Head of Product at Square, where he led a team of 15+ PMs responsible for $600m in annual revenue. Michael was also the VP of Product Management at Opendoor. — In today’s episode, we discuss: Key product strategies used by Square and Gusto The pros and cons of building for SMBs How to build horizontal after creating a wedge The catch with building vertical SaaS How product teams can move faster Developing product sense and intuition — Referenced: Alyssa Henry: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alyssa-henry-0905692/ Copilot: https://copilot.microsoft.com/ Gokul Rajaram: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gokulrajaram1/ Gusto: https://gusto.com/ High Output Management: https://amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove/dp/0679762884 Marty Cagan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cagan/ Opendoor: https://www.opendoor.com/ Silicon Valley Product Group: https://www.svpg.com/ Square: https://squareup.com/ The Three Horizons Model: https://www.mckinsey.com/enduring-ideas-the-three-horizons-of-growth Toast: https://pos.toasttab.com/ — Where to find Michael Cieri: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelcieri/ — Where to find Brett Berson: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brett-berson-9986094/ Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/brettberson — Where to find First Round Capital: Website: https://firstround.com/ First Round Review: https://review.firstround.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/firstround YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@FirstRoundCapital This podcast on all platforms: https://review.firstround.com/podcast — Timestamps: (00:00) Introduction (02:41) Why SMBs require unique software solutions (05:58) The level of specificity required when building for SMBs (08:47) Finding Square’s form-fitting solution (11:48) Building vertical versus horizontal SaaS (14:34) Inside Square and Gusto’s decision making framework (16:15) How to build horizontally from a wedge product (23:00) Using the Three Horizons Model (25:29) How to craft a compelling vision for products (28:51) How to assess Horizon 3 bets (32:08) How to give employees the freedom to try things (34:24) Creating a risk-taking culture (37:27) Essential advice for new PMs (40:27) Common thread with bad product pitches (42:29) Applying the Horizon framework at Gusto (44:46) Developing good product sense (47:43) 5 signs of great product sense (49:03) Why product sense is like athletic ability (51:43) How to ship faster without increasing headcount (56:10) People who had an outsized impact on Michael

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