Back to resources

Failed Startups and Resume Gaps: The Career Path of a Product Manager

Product
Personal Growth

25 February, 2020

Juan Fortunato
Juan Fortunato

Senior Director of Product and Engineering / GM Argentina at Basis Technologies

Juan Fortunato, General Manager and Senior Director of Product at QuanticMind, discusses difficulties of becoming a product manager and encourages aspiring product managers to embrace the experience of trying (and failing) to build their own product.

Problem

Product managers are notorious for their entrepreneurial spirit. They try to build their own products and they often fail. They are uncomfortable talking about it because they perceive these attempts only as failures. This distorted perception is reflected in their resumes; these attempts often appear as resume gaps. Not only that I value my experience of founding and running a startup, but I also value other people’s similar experiences -- successful or not. I encourage prospective candidates to talk about these experiences since that allows me to learn more about their skills and competencies. Instead of excusing themselves I tried something but it didn’t work, I would like them to embrace the experience of trying and failing and have them understand how much it could be valuable in their new job.

Actions taken

When I was in college I set up a website that was selling stars; you could buy a star and give it away as a gift. We sold around 200 stars but eventually, I spent more money on just making the promo video than I made as gross revenue. However, it was a valuable and empowering experience as I had to think about the design, do a video script, set up a payment process, think about user experience, etc. I was able to see different aspects of what it meant to build a product.

I try to encourage people to share their experiences, including their failed attempts. There was a person who was interested in transitioning to product management from industrial engineering. He laterally mentioned that he had built an open-source social network for people interested in boats and sailing. It turned out not only that his project was successful but I learned a great deal about him -- that he was able to set up something, to run it and even make some money.

Lessons learned

  • Many of our experiences are valuable depending on the perspective from which they are perceived. These experiences don’t have to be a great success to have an inherent value. Our failed attempts can be equally valuable.
  • You have to be able to learn from your own experience and that requires discipline. Regardless of the final outcome of any experience in terms of success and/or failure, you can always end up learning something if that is what you choose to do.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

How to Build and Manage the First Product Roadmap for a Startup

19 January

Angel Jamie, Chief Product Officer at Yayzy, shares how he created the first product roadmap at a startup, and a simple process to keep it alive.

Alignment
Product
Meetings
Roadmap
Prioritization
Angel Jaime

Angel Jaime

CPO at yayzy

Should You Stay Up to Date with Technical Skills As a Product Manager?

19 January

Nani Nitinavakorn, the Sr Product Owner at Revolut, describes how she keeps learning hard skills to increase motivation and respect her team.

Alignment
Innovation / Experiment
Different Skillsets
Personal Growth
Ownership
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New PM
New Manager
Nani Nitinavakorn

Nani Nitinavakorn

Sr Product Owner at Revolut

Getting Creative to Land Your First Tech Job

19 January

Nani Nitinavakorn, the Sr Product Owner at Revolut, shares how she gained her first technical position, creating a direct method to apply for jobs.

Personal Growth
Ownership
Hiring
Strategy
Juniors
Career Path
Nani Nitinavakorn

Nani Nitinavakorn

Sr Product Owner at Revolut

Tips to Get Back to Work After a Career Break

18 January

Joëlle Gernez, Vice President, Engineering at Pinger, shares her strategies to come back to the tech-industry after a brief 6-years of career break.

Goal Setting
Managing Expectations
Personal Growth
Changing Company
Career Path
Joëlle Gernez

Joëlle Gernez

Vice President, Engineering at Pinger

Completing a Successful Reorganization within a Well-Established Company

19 January

Jason De Oliveira, CTO for more than 10 years, shares his experience completing a reorganization, implementing agile, and collaborating with multiple teams.

Alignment
Product
Leadership
Reorganization
Agile / Scrum
Jason De Oliveira

Jason De Oliveira

CTO at Kolquare

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.