How to Build a Successful B2B Product Team at the Early Startup Stage [Part 1]

In Revenue Capital

Building a top-notch product team is key to a startup’s success, but it’s not just a box to check. As company and customer needs evolve, it’s crucial for a product team to grow and adapt. The magic happens when the team is flexible and collaborates seamlessly across functions, making the product development process both innovative and adaptable.

To begin, let’s break down three types of product teams: full product, feature, and delivery. Each plays a unique role in fostering growth and expanding the range of products offered. Here’s what to know:

Full Product Team

Think of the full product team as representing maturity, encompassing product management, design and engineering, with the potential inclusion of Quality Assurance as well. This cross-functional team delves into the product domain to discover innovative solutions and then produce specific outcomes. This means they would be able to go into the market, do research, talk to customers, understand the larger gaps or problems, develop creative solutions, test those solutions against the needs of the customer, and then deliver an ideal result. It’s full stack, from real product discovery all the way to delivery.

Feature Team

The feature team, while partially cross-functional, focuses on assigned features. They work within the product domain with roles such as graphic designers, product managers, and sometimes product owners. Tasked with completing specific features (based on the existing roadmap or customer request), they’re able to find innovative solutions, but within designated boundaries. Compared to a full product team, their flexibility is somewhat constrained.

Delivery Team

In the early stages, a delivery team requires less complexity. Comprising developers and backlog managers, this team operates off a prioritized backlog of features. Their tasks are more direct and output-oriented, leaving less room for creativity or usability testing. Often measured on task completion rather than outcomes, they work within the confines of specific customer requests or bug fixes.

Common pitfalls to keep in mind

When startups are inundated with customer requests, it becomes challenging to shift from merely delivering what’s asked to contemplating the bigger picture. Two common pitfalls arise: hyper-focus on immediate customer needs without addressing larger problems, and the emulation of competitors without asking enough “Why?” questions. Both scenarios can throw a wrench in the development of innovative solutions.

Building a successful B2B product team at the early startup stage involves navigating through the nuances of full product, feature, and delivery teams. In Part 2 of this article, we will delve deeper into strategies for overcoming common pitfalls and further optimizing your product team for sustained success.