Tell us about yourself Row. You’ve had an awesomely diverse career. Can you somehow unpack for our readers who you are and what you do in 60 seconds?
Sure thing. I’m a Product Lead, having moved across from being an Agile Delivery Lead (Scrum Master) within the consultancy services space. I’ve always loved the idea of hiring great people, and empowering these people to make decisions — instead of the more traditional ‘one person leads and everyone else does’ approach. I’ve found in time that everyone can lead in their own way if given the opportunity and freedom to express their style of leadership. I’m also a massive fan of smashing down silos and creating a work environment where visibility and transparency are mainstays.
As a Product Lead, I (along with my squad) work with founders to navigate and realise their ideas through iterative discovery and design-driven processes.
My squad is an awesome group of really intelligent and able people; my role also sees me opening doors and clearing the way for them to work their magic.
What was the key driver to diving into the world of product?
I was aware from day one that the people who work for AV are beyond passionate about solving problems the right way (listening to users and people at the coal face who are ‘feeling the pain’ that a problem is causing), and as a result building great tech products. I was super keen to come in and help AV grow when it comes to things like redesigning some of our processes and ways of working. I love solving problems.
Here at AV, our product teams are operating in what we call ‘squads’, essentially multi-skilled teams that are geared with all the capabilities to take a founder and product from idea stage to fully operational startup. Your squad has one of the better names. Can you explain where you landed with the Ryans Goslings?
I actually wasn’t around when the decision was made, but our lead engineer Sam Kosky apparently looks like Ryan Gosling. Apparently. We could have landed on worse names; and Kosky is a handsome devil to be fair.
The ‘Goslings’ have been pretty busy on our venture Sensor Skins at the moment. Can you explain this product a little for our readers?
For sure. At AV, we have focused recently on building impactful HealthTech products that can make a real difference in peoples’ lives. Sensor Skins was born out of this focus, and is a product that will allow type 2 diabetes sufferers to take an active role in managing their own care.
Real time data from sensors in insoles in their shoes enables them to make behavioural changes on the fly; the end goal being to reduce ulceration and as a result — amputations.
The product should also make it easier for time-poor health practitioners to digest patient data and thus make their lives easier too, reducing the time needed in consultation. We have had some great feedback so far and are excited to graduate the product to the next stage, where Calceus Health will drive it forward.
How has your experience been tackling that?
Yeah it’s been a great journey! Certainly a stack of awesome learnings woven in there. From the hardware to software relationship (dance), to the process of planning and delivering a clinical trial, and working to some pretty important regulatory guidelines.
We’re lucky to have some great people who have stayed super focused throughout, always focusing on the products problem space, and the north star of making the product high-value and easily usable by sufferers/patients.
So you’ve cut your teeth as a scrum master of the years, and more recently have transitioned into the world of venture building here at AV. Where have you noticed the biggest differences between your world in services project management, and product management?
Services can be a wild ride at times, where I would have often worked with a number of different clients across a week, helping to solve some very different problems, and achieve some very different outcomes. This would have seen me work with a number of project teams and sets of stakeholders at a given time. The nature of the work is that it is quite fluid I guess.
Product Management sees more focus on achieving an outcome with one product, albeit there are still lots of moving parts. My role has not only seen me work with the product team to deliver, but also help out with some more early stage commercial validation too. As a Product Lead at AV, I get to see a product/venture through from initial conversations to the build, and graduation of the product to the founders.
It is important to give a nod to some of the similarities as well though; both Aginic and Aginic Ventures don’t just focus on value delivery before throwing a service or product over the fence; there is a real desire to enable clients and founders to be in the best place possible to move forward. This involves up-skilling and coaching at every opportunity.
At AV, this means coaching founders on what success looks like for all aspects of a successful startup. In a nutshell — we don’t just build great products — we enable the success of great businesses.
So if we take the lens of a product lead, to help reachers out there really grasp what a venture studio tends to focus on, where do you sit on each of these topics.
Output or outcome? Outcome
Coach or manage? Coach
Deliver or enable? Enable
Problem discovery or solution discovery? Problem first, always
Long view or short view? Both! But it depends on the situation. Long view all day when it comes to solving a problem in such a way that adds value and helps people for a very long time. Short view when it comes to jumping in, rolling up the sleeves and enabling the solving of that problem quickly :)
What do you love about all of this beautiful madness?
I love variety, and I’m the type of person who needs to have a few problems on the go to solve. Even though we try to focus on smashing out one product at a time as a squad, my role sees me assisting with due diligence and validation of other ideas in our pipeline too.
I also love taking a high-level view of situations and organisations, and jumping in to help to reshape processes and add efficiencies where possible. AV is growing and has offered me some decent opportunities to get stuck in on that front too.