Micro-Interview: Filip Filipov, Founder & CEO, Former VP of Product Management

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Filip Filipov is the Founder & CEO of atKairos – an AI-based, personalized mobile app that combines input, calendar, and health data to give you relevant insights about how to spend your time more efficiently.

Filip is a former VP of Product Management of Skyscanner turned entrepreneur and a serial investor in various startups.

In under 500 words, he shares: 

  • How he uses Deep Work to be super productive…
  • How to stay on top of your craft…
  • What he learned from some of his biggest product failures…

And more…  

Enjoy!


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“How did you get into product management?”

Accidentally: I joined Skyscanner as a strategy manager and just ended up owning a number of products and teams over time. I am not a typical product crafts person but rather a GM with strong product intuition. 

“How do you start your mornings at work?”

Deep Work from the start. That’s the best time for me to get into analytical tasks and I block 2-3 hours to do the most important and challenging items. No interruptions, no distractions: noise canceling headset and no notifications. 

I am incredibly intentional about my time – that’s all I have. So, my days are structured and organized according to my energy levels, and even the breaks are on my calendar. Ever since I started doing that, my performance increased manyfold.

“What do you know about product management now that you wish you’d known when you first started?”

Go against the gurus. If everyone builds products according to the three big product folk and their latest podcasts, you don’t have an edge. In many cases they are right, but fundamentally, breakthroughs come from going against the grain. Nail the basics and housekeeping stuff, but after that, creativity and innovation are born from the difference of opinion, not the entire PM community doing the same thing at scale.

“What did your biggest product failure teach you?”

Not to be afraid. We pushed out a product without enough testing and our marketing outreach fell flat, since the log-in didn’t work. Customers are more forgiving than we think – after we made the fix, we saw an increased number of sign-ups, since we were just human and apologized for making a stupid mistake. In short, you are never ready, so proceed. That said, don’t be dumb, either: don’t repeat the same mistakes and test the most obvious failure points, not the edge cases. 

“What’s the #1 thing that has helped you shorten your product management learning curve?”

Build your product intuition – over time, your System 1 thinking will build products faster. To do that, be a voracious user of products – from consumer to deep tech to SaaS. 

“How do you stay updated on the best practices in product management?”

You don’t need to be an expert in every topic, but you should know the latest products and why they are successful. Download the latest apps, and sign up for the latest tools. You can easily see what the cutting-edge product management practices are – they are shipped within the product. The rest is project management – how you organize the team and whether you are agile, Kanban, waterfall, and whatnot.