Writing by Peter Hilton

Book review: Choose Your First Product

How to find and validate a product idea, by Leon Bambrick (@secretGeek) - 18 March 2020 #product #book

Choose Your First Product

Choose Your First Product (Amazon) does what it says on the cover: it gives you four easy steps to find and validate a humble product idea. This pitch already highlights what makes this book great.

  1. It addresses the challenge of coming up with a good product idea, leaving you the interesting part: execution.
  2. It focuses on validation: the crucial step that you may try to skip if you fail to read this kind of book.
  3. The book describes a straightforward process in four steps.
  4. Humility.

What I liked

The book’s easygoing style and short chapters made it a joy to read, unlike other product books that feel like work. I read the book over the course of a few days, making each instalment a daily treat. I liked this readability and two more things, on top of the front cover pitch’s promise:

  1. Easy-to-read
  2. Funny - not a surprise if you follow Leon Bambrick on Twitter
  3. Contains handy lists that summarise key points

I like lists. Choose Your First Product includes several.

Satisfying lists and a process model

The concrete examples helped me understand the book’s key points on the first read, but the lists will help in the future. The book’s lists include:

  1. Four things you need to discover (the TOAD system)
  2. Three places to find a target market
  3. Three ways to look for obstacles
  4. Three things to identify during qualitative research
  5. Three problems with academic papers
  6. Four kinds of demand signal
  7. Three ‘excellent ways to test for demand’

Best of all (for a business process management software product manager), on top of the examples, the lists and the cute artwork, the TOAD system even comes with a process diagram:

The TOAD system for proven product ideas

Meanwhile, the lists and process diagrams distracted me, so I got well into the book before I had my I-see-what-you-did-there moment.

I see what you did there!

The book’s casual style, cute illustrations and handy lists misdirected me at first. I initially thought of Choose Your First Product as a short and sweet introduction for people who think they have a wonderful product idea, and who need some insight into what that kind of thinking might lead to. But then I realised that this book achieves something special; it occurred to me that it could explain product management as a whole to a child.

Choose Your First Product distills the essential ideas of product management into a short readable book, making popular texts like The Lean Startup look puffed-up and self-congratulatory in comparison. I wish I had read this book first, when starting my first product role, before moving on to other excellent books such as Escaping the Build Trap, by Melissa Perri.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Recommended.