Every great idea starts somewhere, and Her Product Lab starts at a dinner party. The guests are Naimeesha Murthy, Monica Rozenfeld, and Lina Bedi –– three women who connected because they are all in product management and share the same question: What would it look like to bring women together in this space?”
“Hours later we basically had this whole concept for a full-day event,” Monica said. “It’s really incredible how the three of us got together and fleshed out the whole idea. None of us could have done it alone.”
Of course, that’s the power of community, which is exactly what fuels Her Product Lab–– full-day summits in cities around the world for female leaders in product to discuss topics like user experience, customer research, and more. The summits will also focus heavily on relationship building, and attendees will have the opportunity to meet with industry leaders one-on-one for mentorship sessions.
All three founders wanted to create a space for women in product to learn new skills, network, and lift each other up. In fact, Naimeesha was already building a community through her Facebook group with hundreds of women called New York Women In Product Management. Yet she knew that in order to scale and host in-person events, she needed a dream team. “I hope everyone can find their Lina and Monica,” she said. “All of our strengths match so well.”
Designing the Conference
Naimeesha learned from starting NYWPM that women crave sisterhood, in and outside of the workplace. “They want to support each other and find mentorship,” she told us. “Even if you go on Slack, you’ll see women confessing fears of failure, fears of success, and general struggles with managing their career.”
It was clear from the ongoing conversations that Her Product Lab’s mission was to create a fun, safe space for this community to grow. “We don’t want that stuffy suit environment where everyone feels like they’re in a uniform,” Lina explained. “We want to create a space where people are comfortable being themselves, being open, and helping each other.”
While the ideation stage for the event was relatively easy, validating ideas with their target audience was harder. After a meeting where the team laid out their plans for Her Product Lab, they knew they had to get open and honest feedback to ensure their efforts would have a positive impact. It was the ideal moment to reach out and be accepted as a member of Alpha’s In_Sight Program, which gives rising leaders the opportunity to discover new insights directly from target customers, validate their product-market fit, and launch new initiatives with more confidence.
“It was a perfect match,” said Aaron Davis. “The In_Sight Program was created for social entrepreneurs and leaders working on ideas that are building a better future. The opportunity for us to help them is an honor, to say the least. The work to validate the Her Product Lab concept, brand, and web presence began almost immediately, and the whole crew started to figure out how they could learn about the needs of their specific market.”
Alpha began running some tests with Her Product Lab surveying professional women around the country, addressing questions like “How do women define the word confidence?” and “How do women and men prepare for speeches differently?”
The word cloud below highlights how women view confidence, and highlights the emphasis on feeling and ability. The second shows that many women feel their confidence ebbs and flows, depending on external situations.
Yet the most tactical test was simple: getting feedback on their landing page.
Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that the Her Product Lab website resonated almost immediately. Nearly half of respondents rated their initial impression of the page as a 5 out of 5. But, since there’s always room for improvement, many users offered insightful commentary that helped to influence and improve the site:
“The forum seems incredible, but the cost makes it difficult for me to imagine being able to send enough of my team to make it fair and worthwhile.”
“This is the kind of thing there should be scholarships available for. The women who need this the most can’t afford it.”
“They should give people who are actually paying for this a discount and the people that are having their company cover it pay at cost.”
Her Product Lab received a variety of valuable perspectives on the best ways to make this conference appealing to women in product, plus the companies that employ them. One of the most important insights was highlighting the site’s usability. The Her Product Lab founders were happy to know that people could successfully sign up for their lab!
Looking at a Larger Problem
Of course, Her Product Lab isn’t just looking to host a one-off event. The team wants to create a community for women to address a larger societal problem–– the empowerment of women in tech.
For years in this industry, women have been competing against one another. But there’s a palpable shift happening. “Women are starting to realize that when we work together, we rise faster,” Lina said. “We’re stronger that way. That’s why inclusive leaders build inclusive brands.”
Plus, the more job opportunities that are created, the more secure people feel. That leads to more collaboration. “We’re seeing all these venture funds that are focused on women,” Monica added. “We can all succeed–– it’s not like there’s a small pool and we have to fight for our shot.”
That’s why the space of Her Product Lab is so crucial right now. It’s a safe place for women to come together, share their fears, be vulnerable, and lift each other up. Every woman who leaves the conference is not only going to be inspired, they are also going to leave with a tangible understanding of their next steps, whether that’s choosing a new career or scaling their current venture.
These founders have successfully jumped over many hurdles building this community from scratch, but COVID-19 brought the biggest and most unexpected of all. The public health crisis meant that their first-ever conference, which was set for March 26th in New York City, had to be rescheduled for June 3rd. If you’ve ever organized a large-scale event, you know how much of an inconvenience that is–– to put it lightly.
“At Alpha, we support our community members, especially in times of uncertainty,” Aaron commented. “We encourage you to get a ticket for Her Product Lab, follow them on social media, or consider spreading the word anyway you can.”
This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.