The Four People Who Will Tell You How To Build a Successful Product

And the four people you shouldn’t be listening to

Joe Procopio
7 min readOct 19, 2020


Is your product building itself? It should be.

The longer I’ve been an entrepreneur, the more I believe in the self-perpetuating success of a product and a startup. Yes, there’s still a lot of hard work to be done. Yes, you need experience to make critical decisions. Yes, external factors can take a company down at any given moment.

All of this is true.

And yet, as we enter the late-morning of the era of the product-driven startup, it’s never been easier to automate your way to results. In fact, the quality of the product is almost secondary to the quality of the machine that builds, delivers, and improves the product.

You truly can build a successful product if you listen to four important sources.

The only problem is, these same four sources can also lead your startup to ruin.

A quick discussion of the evolution of the product-driven organization

Software as a Service, two-sided marketplaces, subscription pricing models, eService, direct-to-consumer, and the concept of Minimum Viable — all of these phenomena owe their existence to the evolution of startups from sales-driven to product-driven organizations over the last decade or so.

But what does that mean, exactly?

It starts with a shift in company structure.

At a strategic level, the change is from a structure that puts sales on one side and build on the other to a structure that accommodates the customer’s journey from their first discovery of the product to the end of their usage of the product.

At a tactical level, the shift has mostly manifested itself in the onset of the product role, from product marketing to product management to product engineering.

To make a long story short, product-driven companies use sales engineers and product marketers to bring product advancement closer to the customer, and they use product managers and product engineers to bring the customer input closer to the product.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at