The role of the product founder/ceo

During the earliest days of a startup, the founder/ceo is often the product visionary. They have a heartfelt mission to build something that many others didn’t see. It’s inspiring. 

As the startup grows we see these product founder/ceos start to hire senior people that complement their skills in areas like finance, sales, marketing and engineering. 

And it’s also natural to hire a VP of Product.

That VP of Product is often one the most challenging roles in the company. They have to command the respect of the organization yet they are working for the founder/ceo that is a product visionary. 

I’ve seen so many scenarios of this combination. I’ve seen some VP of Product that are really VP of Project Management. They execute and operate the founders product plan.

I’ve seen the other extreme, where the product founder/ceo essenstially outsources his/her influence to the VP of Product for fear they will annoy their team. 

And I’ve seen product/founder CEOs try to walk this fine line in between.

One thing I encourage all product founder/CEOs: don’t give up your role and intimacy with the product feel, plan, priorities and roadmap. It is your moral birthright to own the product vision. Stand tall and know that your vision is why the investors, employees and early customers showed up.

It’s why are here in the first place.