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Discussion on: I'm Vivek Saraswat, investor in Dev Tools + Infra startups @ Mayfield and former product leader @ Docker/VMware/AWS. AMA!

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Vivek Saraswat Ask Me Anything

Hmm..technically my first software job was a high school internship building Flash demos for an edtech startup. The lesson learned there was don't build stuff in Flash =P

More seriously, my first real breakthrough was as a Product Manager at Amazon Web Services for EBS Snapshots. Lessons learned from AWS:

  • Creating a vision: When you want to introduce a product at Amazon, you go through a process called "Looking Backwards"--basically, what does this product look like at at scale, and then working back to the minimum viable product from there. The importance of this is understanding what it takes to build something big, and creating a process of how to get there.
  • Being extremely customer focused. Everything in Amazon is about the customer, having a deep understanding of that customer, and what it takes to make that customer successful. It's stunning to me how many folks at startups and large companies alike don't understand or care about their users and customers, and I heavily respect the ones that actually do.
  • Metrics: Part of Amazon's success is in using metrics very effectively to see what's moving the business forward. Track the things that matter, and put KPIs for your success. Beware of vanity metrics that make you feel good and look up and to the right, but don't actually contribute to your business success.
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