(Before we get down to it, remember if you’re looking for a new role yourself to check out the Econsultancy jobs board.)
Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do? And who do you report to?
Aviad Pinkovezky: I’m the Head of Product at Hippo and report directly to our CEO, Assaf Wand. As the Head of Product, I am responsible for making sure that our customer’s insurance needs, technology, data, and design all come together to create a coherent and smooth user experience. As any product manager probably does, I work closely with our engineering team to prioritize tasks and provide them with specifications for feature development.
Hippo is in the business of selling insurance, so one unique aspect of my job is the tight collaboration with our insurance, underwriting and legal teams. We work together to ensure that our online offering is integrated accurately with our insurance product, while being perfectly compliant with the regulatory requirements.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
AP: First and foremost, product managers need to be excellent communicators and coordinators. Your ability to make your vision come true isn’t driven by legions of engineers working for you, but rather by your ability to clearly articulate it, rally the troops around it and solidify a detailed plan for the team to execute.
Second, the difference between a good product manager and an effective one comes down to their ability to break complex problems down to understandable tasks. This skill is even more crucial when working at an insurtech or fintech company, given the number of constraints affecting each and every product decision (e.g. compliance, insurance product requirements, user trust, etc.).
Last, but not least, product managers need to be self-driven and extremely motivated to support the business’ goals. This skill is even more important in a startup environment than it is in a large organization. Most of the problems you need to tackle in a startup are unstructured, unprecedented and in some cases completely unchartered territory for you and the rest of your team. So, you dig in and work to solve it in a productive and efficient way, which can take some strange and fun turns.
Without these skills it’ll be incredibly difficult for any product manager to achieve anything at scale or build more than a simple feature.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
AP: Wow, is there such a thing like a typical day? 🙂
I start each day by dropping off my two kids at school. It’s something I try to do everyday that I’m not traveling and it grounds me for the day ahead. Then, I pick up some coffee (can’t start a day without it!) and get to work.
I usually start the day by cleaning my email inbox (yes, I do my best to try and keep a zero inbox!) and sorting out any loose ends from last night. Then I dig into a series of meetings and calls to discuss some or all of the following: product prioritization, new requirements that came up from customer feedback, input from our agents or legal team, pushing existing or new partnerships with our strategic vendors and partners, A/B testing new ideas, monitoring our purchase flow performance or problem solving new product or market challenges.
I also keep time open for frequent 1:1s with my team, colleagues and with our co-founders. I find it incredibly important to ensure that the different stakeholders in the company are aligned with what we’re working on and our future plans.
Throughout the day I also spend dedicated time with our QA team, which is second to none in finding all the edge cases scenarios we didn’t anticipate, and I ensure that all the issues are prioritized and clarified if needed.
Later in the afternoon, I try to keep some time open for writing product specs and then I head back home to spend time with my family. After the little ones go to sleep I often answer emails, plan the next day and call it a night.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
AP: Getting feedback from our customers is by far the best part of the job. But it’s not just about fishing for compliments :-).
Getting feedback from customers is extremely humbling and acts as a constant reminder for our purpose. Moreover, the ability to improve our product and processes based on our customer ideas, and then seeing the impact of those changes is extremely fulfilling.
On the flip side, the most challenging part of my work is maintaining the team’s focus on our specific product development efforts. As a young, small startup, our main advantage lies in the ability to move fast and deliver a high quality product in a short time-frame to our target audience. You can’t do that unless you’re laser focused on your product priorities. However, that means that you need to say “no” to plenty of cool ideas, interesting initiatives and promising partnerships. And it ain’t easy…
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
AP: That’s a great question. We set our goals on a quarterly basis, and focus on two main dimensions – sales growth and customer experience:
To track sales growth, we look a complicated set of metrics driven by our paid advertising campaigns, brand awareness efforts and traction of our new state launches. We closely monitor our Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) across different products, premium (dollar amount), quote-to-close ratio and a few other metrics depending on what campaigns or product challenges we’re focused on currently.
To track the successes of our customer service and online experience we measure our NPS score through regular customer surveys, online conversion, bounce rates and make sure to augment those with qualitative feedback.
These metrics help us to keep ourselves honest about the company’s growth, customer satisfaction and performance, and allow us to measure different tests we run.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
AP: First and foremost – my email is my best friend. I use my inbox as my “todo” list which helps keep track of the daily items that require my attention. In addition I use Google docs extensively (mostly for spec writing and sharing), Jira for tickets creation and prioritization, Delighted.com for monitoring our NPS, Heap and Tableau for my specific dashboard needs, and last but not least – InVision and Sketch for iterating with our designer over mock ups.
E: How did you get into fintech, and where might you go from here?
AP: Getting into fintech was completely unplanned, like all the best things in life 🙂
I was working as a Sr. Product Manager at LinkedIn when I was introduced to the co-founders of Hippo by a friend. They had just raised Hippo’s seed round and were looking to hire a Head of Product as their first employee. I was excited by the company’s mission and the huge potential for innovation I saw in the industry, so I decided to jump in head first.
As for my next play, it’s hard to tell. Five years ago I wouldn’t have guessed I’ll be leading product in an insurtech startup, so I won’t even try to guess what I’ll be doing five years from now.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in fintech?
AP: For anyone who is coming into fintech with consumer facing product experience, the most important thing to understand is the new set of constraints within the industry, and its impact on the pace of the product development and testing.
While a typical consumer facing product development is based on quick iterations that involve testing of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), this approach doesn’t always work well in fintech, where the product is regulated and the bar for gaining customers trust is usually much higher than in other verticals. But, when you do nail it and get success, it’s a lot of fun!