A product-first company faces a lot of daily challenges. These situations arise from building an excellent product, collecting proper feedback, and making changes in the process to ensure sustenance.
PolicyBazaar is one such product company that hacked its way to the top and became a world leader in its domain. It is an insurance aggregation website and application that provides users with end-to-end services.
Ashish Gupta, the CEO of DocPrime.come and tech-evangelist with PolicyBazaar has many interesting approaches to develop and scale products rapidly.
From Lead-Generations to Digital Transformation
At first, PolicyBazaar aimed at being a marketing company. They loved the idea of sitting in a room of twenty people to make a business of lead generation for insurance providers. It was a low-cost model until they implemented the idea, only to be sure that they are not adding any value. They began to notice that the leads they generated were going to waste, and the cluttered market could do better. This insight is what helped PolicyBazaar to make a pivot to an aggregator.
The aggregator is a tedious model because it comes down to a number-driven approach. You could no longer make sales based on just “good lead,” you actually have to make a sale. Over time the efforts paid off, and they were creating a storm in the market. They made all the changes to ensure the product was perfect and easy to use. The fact that it was still a nascent market, gave them the chance to build an audience for the product.
“Ask your parents; buying a policy digitally would seem impossible.”
As the world started to move into mobile applications and mobile-first user experiences, it became challenging for PolicyBazaar. As an aggregator, they could not direct people to websites of third-party insurance providers who were not mobile-optimised.
This prediction resulted in them becoming an end-to-end application, so the consumer does not leave the site. A change of such a scale resulted in many concerns such as integrations, security, and regulations. But, having foresight gave them sufficient time to make a smooth transition and not disappoint a single user.
Once PolicyBazaar had made its way to an end-to-end service provider, the question was what comes next. What comes after selling insurance? Ensuring the end-users are benefiting from it. This was the birth of Docprime.com., a health application that connects users to the care they need.
The takeaway from this story is not the need for rapid growth but identifying a space to evolve even when the industry does not demand it. PolicyBazaar was doing perfectly fine when Docprime was created — yet they pushed to make the following better product.
“Do not worry where you were and where you are; worry about every day being a per cent better than last.”
The philosophy here is to make incremental changes each day. Each day should be an effort to better the product by a small amount. Making no change for 365 days will keep you in the same place, but making a change as small as 0.01% will still give you 37 times the results.
Products do not need to evolve solely based on a failure. Products should also develop to be better and make changes to the market and provide more value to the end-users.
There are a few fallacies of product-first companies that come in the way of promising innovations. Now that you know what you should do to build and scale a product, it’s also critical you learn what myths to stay away from.
There is mainly three faux pas to avoid in a product-based business, according to Ashish Gupta:
Ashish Gupta believes that the term ‘Intellectual Property’ has been abused in the current market. Businesses make small changes to an existing idea and try to claim it as their IP. Consider the example of Policy Bazaar — they made an end-to-end product for term insurance unlike any other in the world. This creation would account for an IP.
However, if someone is trying to create a platform like a new payment gateway, with small changes from an existing gateway — that should not account for Intellectual Property.
“As product people, we often reinvent the wheel only to differentiate ourselves.”
Creators must be careful of using the word IP. If you are making a change to an existing idea, it’s of no use to market. “The conception of an idea is easy; making it work in the market is not,” says Gupta.
“Market Share” is another term that is often abused for what it should mean. A good startup should create an evolution in the industry and not eat a slice of the existing cake.
“Good startups have created market share, not acquired market share.”
Gupta takes the example of Uber. When Uber hit the market, they did not gain users from regular taxi users or other public transport; they generated a new market. The idea here is to create a market and not fight for one.
The advantage of creating a market are many. Companies can innovate better, and the situation forces you to be the best and charge a premium fee. If you make small changes to an existing service, all you can do is undercut the competition, not innovation.
“Market Share is Trap “
When PolicyBazaar was looking to create their other limbs, they did not work with experts in the industry. They brought in analysts to perform the tasks of product managers. This was done to provide a fresh pair of eyes to a problem — rather than solving it in ways that are done and dusted.
“Industry experts have ideas that are very rigid, and it will never evolve.”
It would help if you aimed to evolve every few years as a person and the company. Don’t get hung up on what you already know. If you are not changing the market, you are just doing what’s being done already.