About Shardul

Hi. My name is Shardul.

You can read my professional bio via my LinkedIn profile.

But you might also be interested in my story.
HP 85 personal computer, circa 1980

In 1985, I came across the HP 85 and discovered a program called VisiCalc. It was the most brilliant thing I had ever seen, and I knew right then I had found my calling: to create software products.

Since then I’ve done just that, first as a C/C++ programmer, then as an entrepreneur and product manager.

I’ve founded two startups, and have launched startup products in healthcare, retail services, financial services, and payments, often in non-technical companies where product management had never existed before.

A few years ago, I founded ProductCamp DC, which is now the largest product management community in the US mid-atlantic region, and where product people learn from each other and some of the world’s foremost product experts, like Steve JohnsonTeague Hopkins, and Pradheep Sampath.

I’ve mentored at Startup Mason’s Innovation Lab and Lean Startup Machine, and have helped many entrepreneurs and product managers with their product challenges.

I’m intrigued by frameworks, methodologies and models, and I’ve learned a lot from product leaders like Rich Mironov, Bruce McCarthyKevin Dewalt, and Marty Cagan. But most of what I’ve learned I’ve done so through field testing, hands-on application, and by making lots of mistakes. There is no substitute for practical real-life lessons.

I share these experiences on this blog, writing about what has worked, what hasn’t, and why Product Management is so hard, but so important, whether for a Fortune 100 company or a startup.

Inspired by Alexander Ostewalder’s Business Model Canvas and Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas, I created the Product Canvas to provide product people with a strategic product planning tool that enables them to quickly capture their product strategy on a single page.

I’m always working. But when I’m not, I’m enjoying great food, close friends, cricket, football, movies, and being a dad and husband.

Why I Blog

I write this blog because:

  • I want to share. No one was around to teach me product management. I had to learn it myself by reading a lot, commiserating with others who were also trying to figure it out, trying a bunch of things, and making a ton of mistakes. My hope is that folks can benefit from what I’ve learned in the trenches of product management.
  • I find writing cathartic. It allows me to sort through my thoughts in a more constructive and organized way.
  • It helps me build my communication skills. Well, at least my written communication skills!
  • I want to keep myself accountable. I’m always investigating new ways of doing things, and when I find something I like, I want to try it out. (Like trying to apply Lean Startup principles to Product Management.) So I’m always experimenting. From time-to-time, I share the results of those experiments on this blog. This way, my learnings are subject to peer review, and we all benefit.
  • I want to learn. I hope that folks will find interesting what I share here, and will reciprocate by sharing their own thoughts and experiences. I am merely a focus group of one, after all.
  • I love building great products, and I would like to share that passion with everyone.

There are a lot of product management blogs out there, some of them really good. So here’s what I’ll try not to do:

  • Write a rant blog, in which I complain about sales people, engineers, management, and everyone else. There are enough of those out there, and they do a great job providing us with small moments of release in our stressful jobs. (I said I’ll try not to rant. :))
  • Preach a specific methodology, process or framework. Although I said I’m intrigued by these things, I don’t subscribe to any particular one. In recent years I’ve developed a keen interest in Lean Startup, and have been experimenting applying its concepts to product innovation inside companies large and small.
  • Write posts that masquerade as advice, but are ultimately not very actionable, like, “you should plan ahead”, “leadership is important”, etc. — in other words, they may sound great on the surface, but they still leave you scratching your head, saying, “So how do I do that?”

So here’s what you can expect to find on my blog:

  1. Tangible, actionable advice that you can execute on immediately. This is based on things I’ve seen work and not work. Writing about this actually sounds easier than it is.
  2. Thought provokers. Posts that push the envelope in thinking about how to conceive, validate, build and launch products. Hopefully, they will elicit discussion and debate, which can only help strengthen our field.

I realize these probably sound like they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum — tactical on one hand and conceptual on the other. That’s me, I suppose!

I hope you enjoy my blog!

You can reach me here.