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Episode 187 - How to Build Products when the Founder IS the Product (with Saagar Bains, Fractional Product Leader & Former Head of Product @ The Body Coach)

Product Development
Product Discovery
Product Leadership

Episode 187: How to Build Products when the Founder IS the Product

Saagar Bains, Fractional Product Leader & Former Head of Product @ The Body Coach

17 Sep 2023

17 Sep 2023 Saagar Bains head shot

Listen here!

Content Warning - May Contain Adult Language or Themes
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About the Episode

Saagar Bains is a fractional product leader and product advisor who started out digitally transforming his family's wholesale business and launching its e-commerce site before moving into consulting and into startups. One of those startups was The Body Coach, started by celebrity fitness guru Joe Wicks, where Saagar had the job of translating their vision into scalable reality. For this episode, we travelled to Saagar's hometown of Birmingham for a LIVE interview and Q&A about the pros and cons of building for celebrity creators.

Episode highlights:

1. Being an early entrepreneur can really help your product management game

Product managers often get tied up in the craft of product management and the latest frameworks, but Saagar started out working for his family business and had to work out everything as he went. This gave him an incredible bias for action, to do things that don't scale and to get scrappy where needed. These are traits that many PMs should develop rather than getting precious about process.

2. Product Management is all about the "Why"

Saagar spent some time working for Deloitte Digital and, in many cases, building stuff without being told why it was being built. This left him feeling unsatisfied, and like he wasn't doing "Proper Product". Luckily, even though The Body Coach started building with an external agency, the "why" was so strong from the founders that Saagar could take over something that made sense.

3. Creator-led businesses have a built-in audience, which means that "move fast and break things" doesn't work

If you have millions of users with a direct relationship with the brand upfront, you can't just throw anything out the door. There's an incredible amount of brand equity and trust that needs to be satisfied, and there is a higher quality bar. That said, you still have to pick your battles, and there's still good product prioritisation work to be done.

4. All founders are going to come with feature requests, and smart PMs are going to do some of them

When you have an incredibly well-respected founder who lives and breathes the product, you're going to get requests. Some of them will even make sense. But, product people who don't have evidence against the requests, or a better plan in general, are going to get overridden and they only have themselves to blame. That said, it's important not to rail against feature requests just because they're from a founder.

5. Building proper, trusting relationships with the founders is incredibly important

When working with creators with a massive following, who have invested so much of themselves into a company, the worst thing you can do is just walk in expecting them to bend to the awesome power of product management. Saagar spent several hours walking and talking with the founders before even getting the job, to understand their motivations and forge a bond. This ultimately helped him be more successful.

Contact Saagar

You can connect with Saagar on LinkedIn.

Saagar Bains and me before the recording