Today we dive into a different aspect of product management with Jason Rados, Senior Product Manager at N26. Going beyond focusing on a singular customer, you’ll get an inside look at how to develop products for a business as well as what it takes to transition from B2B to B2C products and from serving as a UX manager to jumping up to a senior PM role.
Question [00:00:44] When you were growing up, did you ever think about how services and brands were developed? Did you ever consider how people interacted with things in general?
Jason [00:01:16] Well, growing up I was attracted by technology, and more specifically tinkering with things. I remember opening up my game boy to see how it works, but in the end, not really being able to do anything about it. But I was always curious about how things work or how things are built, and I still have this curiosity, so I’m happy to go deep in discussions about coding even though I’m not a coder.
Question [00:03:21] You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while, but what do you think about the particularities of being outside Silicon Valley, which is seen as this tech hub. What’s the difference and what are the benefits?
Jason [00:03:51] I’ve been living here in Barcelona for 10 years, and I really love it here. There was a phase that I wanted to go to Silicon Valley, so I went with my wife to visit, and I had some friends working at Airbnb and Pinterest. I went to see the offices plus Facebook’s and it was super cool to see how things are made that you use every day and to know this concentration of talent and power to influence the world.
Overall it was a super exciting experience. What I saw and what it was missing is basically the quality of life in Barcelona, and I would say that it’s not comparable.
The other thing I saw is there are these huge organizations with a lot of impact in the world, but you can still have an impact by not being there as well. There are also certain benefits in the sense that you’re outside the bubble of people that are so deeply involved with. You’re closer to the “real world” by being outside of Silicon Valley, and you have to find different ways to achieve impact and grow your business outside of getting super funded or acquired.
Question [00:13:02] You’ve been working in FinTech for a couple of months now. What would you say N26 is solving as a digital product?
Jason [00:13:15] Just to give a bit of context: I joined in January 2019, and I transitioned also internally from being a UX designer to becoming a product manager. I had to learn a lot during this time period; how to build products, how to manage the stakeholders, and how to be an active driver of a project. I knew that I wasn’t just part of the team as I was before being a designer, but more in a leadership role.
Now I’m at N26, and some things attracted me to the company like transitioning into a B2B industry. Before I was focused on a more B2C space, and so it was also going from SaaS and a web application world into our mobile heavy world which is now the focus.
At N26 there is a lot of ambition and plenty of challenges because we are a very fast-growing company. We are basically disrupting the financial industry by doing things that don’t sound too complicated, but in reality, what we are working on is actually pretty hard.
For example, creating fully digitized processes. So imagine that if you have an N26 account, you can ask for a loan directly from your phone. In five minutes, if your loan gets approved based on your credit rating, you might have like $25K in your account immediately. You don’t have to work in the bank, talk to anyone, or fill out forms. You have this facilitation of financial actions to do these kinds of things.
Sometimes if you look at only the designing and building, it doesn’t sound too hard, but there’s all the story behind it: how to understand the compliance side, the legal side, and the risk side.
At N26 we have a banking license, but also we’re competing with real banks like in Spain. These organizations are a lot older and more experienced, and we’re competing in the same field. We have to have the right processes to build products in the right way so that it protects the user’s privacy and is secure, but we have to do this going at a startup pace.
It’s a huge challenge I would say, because a lot of people don’t have this background from banking when they join N26. You have a lot of desire to build products and ship them, but it’s not always that easy to accomplish. You have to go through certain processes to get into the integrity, security, and privacy of the customers.
Question [00:16:44] What were the particular challenges from moving between B2B to B2C products? Did you have to learn new things?
Jason [00:17:02] It’s a shift between mindsets because when you working in B2B you have a smaller customer base that you can target compared to when you’re open to the whole market. You have to understand the particular needs of professionals in companies and organizations. You’re no longer looking at only the individual, but you’re looking at the whole organization and the decision-makers as well.
oftentimes the user and the decision-maker need a specific service or products. So when you think about your product and you figure out how to communicate it to the market, you need to be able to satisfy both types of user needs.
When you are thinking about the needs of a decision-maker in the B2B realm, you need to be a bit broader when you try to understand how to approach that. In the B2C world, what I see is decisions are made in a more spontaneous way by the customer. If you can understand their needs and also how they perceive the space you’re working on and how they expect things to work then the process can move faster.
That being said, it’s also easier to disappoint a user, and that will have immediate repercussions because they have the power to cancel or withdraw their accounts immediately.
Also, we’re talking about touchpoints with the customers and making sure that they’re getting value continuously and they are always active. It is important to understand that the scale of things is different, so you can more easily see your impact in a shorter amount of time compared to B2B. I find this aspect interesting and helpful because the expectations are a lot higher in B2C for the customers. In the end, this drives the company to be faster in delivering value to the customers.
Have your own thoughts on the topics covered. Then drop us a line on Twitter. We will be back with a new season on March 2020.