I’m in the market for a new job. My goal is to get into product management, after a long history as a software developer.
I’ve been a software developer for over 20 years, working on a variety of projects, from large e-commerce websites to small entertainment products. I’ve worked for large advertising agencies, smaller boutique firms, and startups.
From Sept 2012 to Nov 2016 I worked for a company called Speakaboos. Their product is an interactive storybook subscription service that caters to parents and children and fosters early childhood reading skills. There are hundreds of stories to choose from, sorted by categories such as vehicles, princesses, dinosaurs and space.
My first task was to build a prototype of the main app, the story browser, that lets you navigate through the categories and choose a story to read. The stories were external files that had to be loaded into the story browser to be displayed.
After building a successful prototype, I was enlisted to architect the full product. I was responsible for the story browser, and another developer was responsible for the story playback engine. A third backend developer created a content management system. We had a whole department dedicated to writing and adapting existing stories to our platform. All of these pieces needed to work together to provide the final experience for the users. It took us the better part of a year to build the Speakaboos mobile product, and in August of 2013 we shipped the 1.0 version of Speakaboos for IOS. The following quarter we released Speakaboos for Android.
Over the next three years, we hired more developers to work on the product and adopted Agile methodologies to our workflow. We started iterating through feature requests and bug fixes, releasing new versions of Speakaboos every few weeks. We had daily scrum meetings and worked with two week sprints. At the beginning of each sprint, we discussed our backlog and assigned stories to each developer. At the end of the sprint we had a retrospective meeting to discuss what went well, and what needed improvement in our process, constantly improving our team’s ability to meet our goals and deliver a high quality product.
Here are some of our achievements:
- delivered comprehensive analytics with actionable data
- reported progress from our advertising initiatives
- wrote an A/B testing platform to try out new feature ideas
- increased revenue consistently from quarter to quarter
- retained subscribers while adding new ones
- successfully raised prices without hurting our bottom line
- integrated 3rd party Java and Objective-C libraries
- partnered with Kyowon, a korean english language learning system
- cultivated relationships with outsourced story production partners
- streaming video for shorter download times
- tested new designs for onboarding to optimize initial user experience
- launched interactive prompts to highlight less obvious features
- added seasonal and holiday themes
- switched from free trial model to subscription with free trial period
- acquired one of our competitors – Learn With Homer