- Client: Leeo
- When: 2014
- Team: Leeo C-level, Product Management, Marketing, IP, and Engineering teams, External Design Agency (Ammunition), External Web Development Agency (Noble Studios)
- My Roles: Product Manager, Business Development and Partnerships Lead
In early 2014, I joined a small smart home startup called Leeo as a Product Manager leading our expansion into Enterprise Internet of Things (IOT). As the rest of our team worked on building and launching our first product, the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight, a consumer, plug-and-play remote Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm monitor, I worked as a team with our co-founders to translate our company vision into our product suite, business, IP, and partnership strategy. In addition, I product managed our launch website, where I led the feature definition, information architecture, user experience design, content strategy, and vendor development and design partners.
My time at Leeo was a huge personal growth experience. Before Leeo, I had primarily worked as an Engineer and Designer. However, at Leeo, I played significant roles in Business Development, Partnerships, New Product Exploration, Product Marketing, and Strategy. I joined looking to work on high-level problems and expand my skills and experience. I am fortunate to say that got exactly that, beyond what I had even imagined.
As the sole employee out of our small team of twenty responsible for expanding from consumer to enterprise, I set the path for how to approach our growth. I began with a market survey of enterprise IOT and discussing our company vision with the Founders. Once I had a solid foundation of our goals, the market landscape in several enterprise IOT industries, and our existing partnership base, I selected a few high potential industries and dove into qualitative user research.
I interviewed 100+ individuals in the course of a few months to learn about various industries, different roles, and what their needs were in the IOT space. With our executive team’s wide-ranging contacts in Real Estate, we especially dove into all forms of that industry from Hospitality to Multifamily Residential Housing. This research spurred countless conversations with our leadership to determine company strategy for the coming months and years, resulting in numerous patents (see below).
What started as exploratory user research transformed into so much more as well. We began to form strong partnerships with individuals and companies who wanted not only to help us with our research but also to collaborate on projects with and even invest in us. For instance, after our meeting with one utility company about product collaborations, they invested and joined our board. Thus began my first experience leading Business Development and Partner Relationship Management, reporting directly to the Founding team.
As the value of my work shined, I was soon able to grow my team. I hired and managed a colleague, and together we accomplished deeper market landscape analysis and research. Our work served instrumental in securing investors down the line when asked for our due diligence.
As the only team member who had ever shipped a consumer electronic product before, I was also often tapped to give advice on hardware product design. It was an honor to leverage my strong hardware engineering experience to be a resource to the team as they navigated contract manufacturers in Asia and industrial designers in San Francisco.
Three months before we publically launched our first product, we were in need of a Web Product Manager who could reliably deliver in a short period of time. I took this opportunity to step up to product manage our launch website.
I led our teams through the feature definition, information architecture, user experience design, content strategy, and vendor development and design partners to ensure that we had a fully functional, responsive, product launch marketing page, e-commerce store, blog, support forum, and community forum to showcase our company and product in time for our mid October launch date.
This was yet another new growth opportunity for me. So far at Leeo, I had already had a significant impact in my roles in Business Development, Partnerships, and New Product Exploration. Now, I was offered another chance to play a leading role, this time in Software Product Management and Marketing, and I owned it. Our entire launch was seamless and it was rewarding to see how my work directly led to sales.
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