What is the difference between startup and product management?

Since 2011, there has been a lot of discussion about startups, with many books, lectures, discussion groups, events focused on the subject, which has a lot to do with digital product development and management. It has so much to do that some people treat both themes as one. However, there is a difference between them.


As we saw in the article How is the life cycle of a software product?

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Everything about startups is focused on the first phase of a software product’s life cycle, the innovation phase. In some cases, one even talks a little about growth and how to cross the chasm, but the main focus is always on how to develop the software product.

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As I mentioned in the article Innovation: next steps, there is a lot of good literature on the startup theme. Be sure to search!

Digital Product Management

Software product management involves much more than just the innovation phase. Software product management covers the entire product life cycle. Also, as we saw in the article What is software product management?, product management is a function of the core development team, which also has UX engineers and designers.

It is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of this role and how it relates to other areas of the company. It is also part of software product management knowledge to understand the difference between focus and product portfolio diversification and, if the company chooses diversification, how to manage that portfolio.

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Therefore, as shown in the figure, software product management covers much more topics than when we talk about startups. For anyone who wants to read more books on software product management, I recommend:

  • Inspired: how to create products customers love by Marty Cagan, former VP of product management on eBay. It is the technology product management manual, where the author explains all the main concepts related to product management. For the people who come to work with me on my Locaweb product coordination team, this book is a must-read.
  • Agile product management with Scrum: Creating products that customers love, by Roman Pichler, Agile Methodology Implementation Consultant. In this book, he shows how *product owners* can create successful products using agile methodologies.
  • 42 rules of product management (2nd edition): learn the rules of product management from leading experts around the world. This book is a collection of 42 great articles written by software product management experts.


We have reached the end of article series about the life cycle of a digital product. We now know what the phases of this life cycle are, what happens in each of them, and the role of the product manager in each one. In the articles that follow, we will understand how is the relationship of the product manager with other areas of the company.

Digital Product Management Book

Do you work with digital products? Do you want to know more about how to manage a digital product to increase its chances of success? Check out my book Product Management: How to increase the chances of success of your digital product, based on my almost 30 years of experience in creating and managing digital products.

Product Management Book

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