Learning to Grow a Product-Oriented Business from Those Who’ve Done It

Lisa Throckmorton and Elizabeth Shea of Speakerbox Communications share best practices on PR and earned media to make your business stand out.

Lisa Throckmorton and Elizabeth Shea of Speakerbox Communications share best practices on PR and earned media to make your business stand out.

On Saturday, December 8th, the Tandem Product Academy cohort met at the AARP Hatchery for its second full day of teaching. The cohort received expert insights from a group of experienced instructors and continued to learn from each other in a friendly and supportive environment.

The day’s instruction began with a discussion of the dynamics of becoming a product-oriented business. This was led by Ben Foster, a product manager with many successful startups under his belt, including GoCanvas, Opower and many others here and in Silicon Valley.

The day then turned to the use of public relations and social media to stand out and grow a business. This was led first by a segment presented by Elizabeth Shea and Lisa Throckmorton of Speakerbox Communications, a well-known resource for many tech companies in our region. Conversation on this topic extended to a working lunch, where Lisa and Elizabeth were joined by additional program instructors Tien Wong, founder of Opus 8, and public speaking and media expert, Tracey Madigan.

After lunch the cohort got their hands dirty and their minds opened to the challenge of negotiation. Through a practical and hands on session, nationally recognized expert on negotiation and leadership, Professor Jeff Kudisch of the Smith School of Business led participants through the process to approach negotiation as an intentional and skilled activity to achieve business outcomes.

As has been the case from the beginning, the participants and instructors are enjoying their time together. There is a uniform feeling that these Saturdays together are rewarding for all involved.

Pramod Raheja, co-founder of Agility, spoke for many when he said:

“As a lifelong learner and entrepreneur, I have been through many courses. From MBA coursework to tech company accelerators like the Founder Institute and Lightspeed, I am both a graduate and in some cases, a Mentor. What I can say about my experience in Tandem Product Academy thus far is that the coursework has been carefully curated to give Founders the best "bang for their buck" and that the Facilitators that I've seen have also been top notch. I wasn't sure what to expect when applying for the course but it's obvious to me after attending that this program potentially has the legs to make a big impact in the DMV region as hopefully more companies have an opportunity to take part.”

Amelia Friedman, CEO of Hatch Apps, added:

“Ben Foster’s talk on product gave a specific framework for how to get closer to product-market fit. I've never seen someone approach product-market fit so with such a clear, tactical approach, and it gave me a clear path forward when I go back to my team.”

Niamh Bennet, Director of Marketing at Ostendio, thought that the session on negotiation was “eyeopening” because “when you’re a startup, managing cash flow and ensuring that you’re not leaving money behind on the table is imperative.” This was something Diana Hege, CEO of RFID Global Solutions, readily agreed with. She pointed out that as a naturally collaborative person, she now understood that to be an effective negotiator you needed to “assess your counter-party, gather as much information as you can, determine what you want and will accept, prepare, and take a tougher stance to avoid adverse outcomes.”

The Tandem Product Academy program will continue into January with multiple seminars and two full days of instruction on topics including fundraising, product management, strategic growth and advanced negotiation techniques.

Jonathan Aberman