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David Chait on non-titular PMs

Watch Alex Cowan interview David Chait, CEO of Travefy.
We’re gonna talk a little bit more about non-titular product managers. I have with us here today David Chait from Travefy. David is the CEO of Travefy and also the lead product person. Do I have that right, David? Yeah, absolutely. As a small company, we definitely fit the mold of the product-focused CEO. Obviously I’m supported by an amazing co-founder, who is our CTO, who also really supports our engineering, QA, product team there, which delivers the amazing products we serve. And what - what are those products? Tell us about what you do in Travefy. Absolutely. So at Travefy, we build delightful itinerary management and client communication tools for travel professionals.
And our vision is the power of client collaboration for every travel professional from your small independent travel agent all the way up to your largest online travel agency. And what is it like running - I mean, I know you run a really nice disciplined program, because we’ve - we’ve spoken in the past. What is it like doing that, as - at the same time that you’re <v ->that you’re running the company, that you’re acting as CEO.</v> It’s difficult. It’s absolutely difficult. I think, you know, as a small company, you go through stages and, you know, probably much later than one would expect where everyone is wearing multiple hats.
And so to do that, what you need to really do is set rules for yourself, set parameters and be disciplined in how you act and think about things to make sure that you are effectively accomplishing all your different solid roles. And tell me more about how you do that with regard to the - the product management part of your job. How do you - how do you keep that focus and how do you make sure you’re allocating the right amount of time to it, establishing the right interfaces with the rest your team? Yeah.
So both on a - on a personal level as well as on a broader team level, the way that I think we’re able to maintain that discipline is number one, I make sure that we’re all rallying around the common goal and understanding of what’s driving - not just product decisions, but everything across the company. I mean, over time that can change; for us, right now, it’s really around sales growth. We’re at a stage where growing our user base, growing our revenues and reaching the point of sustainability is of the utmost importance.
So we make our decisions in terms of what and how we’re selling, but also what are our product feature ads, product features being sunsetted; whatever that might be is around what’s going to drive the incremental growth. Number two, leading a… I’m gonna ask how - how do you, on a week-to-week basis, for the - the person that’s actually doing this - I mean, how do you - how do you make that happen? I mean, how do you create those hypotheses, look at those metrics, decide what they mean for the team and what you ought to do? Things like that - how does that actually work? Yeah. It’s a mix of staying in the data and being as analytical as possible.
And to your point, always testing everything. So for us, you know, we have weekly standing meetings that are about a lot of the things that you would expect a weekly staff meeting to be; but there’s a lot of data in there. It’s always about looking at the - not just the sales data, but behavioral data - what’s going on among our customer base and - and we also vary week to week. We do deeper dives of understanding. And so everyone has a baseline of understanding what we’re looking at so that when you later get into points of saying hey, I want to test this; you understand your baseline, you understand what you’re looking at.
But we go MVP on everything and that includes testing product, et cetera; you know, nothing is out there more than two weeks before we learn something about it. What when you say staff, does everybody go to those meetings or - or just some people? Yeah. So our Monday meetings is everyone. Everyone on the team is there, is present and we make sure that everyone <v ->again, it’s part of a common rallying, focus,</v> understanding what we’re doing - everyone is there. From there, things get into microgroups, being that differences between those there are more product or sales teams or whatever amalgamation of people are focused on specific projects.
But one of the luxuries of being a smaller team sub- 10 size is that you really can allow everyone to organically and authentically understand the big picture of everything going on in an organization. You know - yeah, it’s great. And what are your top three recommendations for product managers who find themselves in this situation - acting as CEO or - or business unit head and lead product person? Yeah. So it is difficult to manage product in the organization. Top three things that I would recommend; number one is compartmentalize. You wear lots of hats, understand the different pieces and triage accordingly on a daily basis, what has to get done and when.
I personally treat sales and product things as the top priority, it’s what moves the needle on the business. Your CEO, CFO-type functions are all vital - that’s what happens late at night. Number two, as mentioned, be as analytical as possible. There are so many decisions to be made. If you can remove certain risk factors by being data- driven in why you’re doing something and judging its effectiveness, you’ve saved yourself so many headaches. And number three, trust your team. You’ve got an awesome team that’s also wearing lots of hats and you can truly trust to not have to micromanage what they’re doing. Everyone succeeds in growth together. That’s a great perspective on running product while running a company or a business.
Thank you so much for joining us, David. Thank you.

In this video, Alex interviews the CEO of Travefy, David Chait, to talk about non-titular product managers. On acting as a PM and CEO, David says “what you need to really do is set rules for yourself, set parameters, and be disciplined in how you act and think about things to make sure that you are effectively accomplishing all your different silent roles.” Think about what David says about his experience as a CEO and PM for his startup business. What can you take from his experiences and apply to your own situation?

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