Remember Office Hours in University? If you don’t, it was a time that professors just left open in their calendars and students could book some time during those blocks to come and have a chat. As a student, you usually went to the office hours for the classes you cared about most, or maybe the class where you were really struggling but wanted to do well. It was a chance to bounce ideas around, improve your understanding of a point, call out issues you were having or maybe just have a bitch-fest about how hard you’d been working. It was part brainstorm, part catch-up, part therapy. It was a chance to clear your head and perhaps it kept you out of the weeds for a few weeks after. Sometimes it was the only time you got to talk about a paper or a project that you’d worked on for weeks or months.
Building products, as an entrepreneur or a product manager, can sometimes feel a lot like being a perpetual student. You are always faced with new information coming at you, have to synthesize it, make decisions and make the idea your own. A lot of the time you’re going at it alone or with a very small team, and you often feel pretty isolated. And what do you do when challenges come up, like when sign-ups drop, or your growth levels out? Who do you talk to?
Pivots have met a ton of CEOs and Product Managers at meet-ups and conferences who are working on great ideas and have really promising products. We shoot the breeze, take a look at their products, offer ideas, help them focus on the possible solutions. The appreciation we receive often seems disproportionate to what we feel we offer until we realize how valuable collaboration and community is when you feel as though you’re doing it alone. So we formalized the process and rolled out Pivotal Labs Product Office Hours. This program of lunches, where Pivotal Product Managers and Designers meet with people who are building cool things and chat about the challenges they face, went live in NYC and San Francisco last year. We are really psyched that we are now rolling it out in our London office in Autumn 2014.
So what’s the deal, really (I hear you ask)? The deal is that you send us an email to email@example.com, tell us a bit about yourself and your product (Make sure you mention you’re in London.) Someone will be in touch to schedule our lunch and maybe ask some clarification questions. Then you come down to our Old Street office on a Friday from 1230-130pm, eat some free lunch and a few Pivotal Product Managers and Designers offer you no-holds-barred advice on how to tackle your most pressing product issues. Can you come in again in a few weeks to let us know how things are going? YES, please do. The lunch is free, the advice is free, the bus fare over costs £1.45. There’s really no reason not to sign-up and come in.
So what’s in it for Pivotal Labs? Well, we get to meet awesome people who are doing cool things. We get to exercise our critique muscles and we get to have cool conversations. If you want some more specifics, you can check out these blogs about WeeSpring and Notable and how to frame your problem, to get an idea of how these sessions go. There is no general template, each session evolves in response to the product discussion at hand.