Infusing Startup Culture is Product Management

Alex Gruber, Senior Director of Product at Vonage, shares how he infuses a startup-minded culture within a large organization, and how he's transitioned his team to agile product management.


Nearly every company wants to embrace a startup-minded company culture, but few are able to overcome the many challenges involved with implementing its practices.

While running experiments and iterating quickly can help teams make better product decisions, most large organizations are not used to doing so. They have established processes, profitable businesses, and teams of people who are responsible for maintaining them.

Alex navigates these challenges by doing “mini startups” internally.

When competition is gaining, margins are shrinking, and people aren’t happy with the current approach, they get motivated to try something new, he says. Starting with a small project and a small team makes it easier to get started and doesn’t pose much risk.

Alex gets feedback from potential customers on these new ideas and shares the insights with key stakeholders to help make the case for scaling up. He visits Starbucks to gain a deeper understanding of how people think about the problem that they're trying to solve, and uses Alpha to find the best solutions for customer segments ranging from pizza shops to Fortune 500 companies.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about agile product management, company culture, and making change within a large organization.

Here are the highlights:

  • How Alex applies his experience as a startup founder to his role at Vonage (7:00)
  • Alex describes how he transitioned his team to agile product management (11:40)
  • Alex breaks down how he gets buy-in for larger scale change (16:50)
  • How Alex keeps his team motivated during change (22:30)
  • Alex shares how he finds customers to give feedback on new ideas (25:10)

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