Unveiling the dynamics of product mastery with Kinshuk Kale, CEO, Shorter Loop

Shorter Loop is an end-to-end product management platform that steers product strategies, aligns teams, brings cohesion from ideas to execution with continuous feedback and insights

Supriya Rai
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Shorter Loop

Shorter Loop

In a recent conversation with Dataquest, Kinshuk Kale, the founder, and CEO of Shorter Loop, shared insights into his extensive journey within the tech industry. With a career spanning 25 years since its initiation in '99, Kale has navigated through diverse roles, initially as an engineer and manager, eventually transitioning into the role of an architect.


In a pivotal moment during his career, around the midpoint, Kale made a notable shift, redirecting his focus from a purely technical trajectory to a more agile management-oriented path. This transformative decision led him to embrace the role of an agile coach, a position he held for an extended period. However, as time progressed, Kale experienced a profound realization – the significance of ensuring the delivery of exceptional products surpassed the accomplishments of being an adept manager of value.

Motivated by this newfound insight, Kale embarked on another career shift, this time venturing into product management. Over the last eight to nine years, he has passionately dedicated himself to this role. Kale expresses great enthusiasm for his journey, finding immense satisfaction in actively contributing to the creation and delivery of impactful products. 

[Excerpts from the interview]


DQ: You did mention that you worked as an Agile Coach, Scrum Master for a large part of your career. Could you highlight some of the common challenges that product managers face? How does this pan out when it comes to startups and scaleups especially?

Kinshuk Kale: When examining the agile software and management movements, there is a significant emphasis on efficiently building and delivering products – a fundamental aspect often considered the bread and butter of these methodologies. However, a crucial aspect that often goes overlooked is ensuring that we are addressing the right problem. In other words, is the product we are aiming to deliver truly solving the real issues our customers face?

This challenge is substantial, with a staggering 90 percent of newly launched products failing, and 42 percent of those failures attributed to a lack of market need. These numbers underscore the magnitude of the issue – the critical question of whether our product aligns correctly with market demands. While this predicament is notably prevalent in startups, even major enterprises, exemplified by Microsoft's failed attempt with Zune, are not immune. In the case of Microsoft, the product failed due to an attempt to mimic Apple's iPod without introducing distinguishing features.


In essence, the overarching problem boils down to formulating a compelling product vision that effectively addresses genuine customer problems. Once such a problem is identified, the challenge then becomes ensuring that the entire organization comprehends and aligns its activities to solve that core problem. This entails building a product that upholds the vision, preserves the value proposition, and addresses the specific needs of the customer. These challenges are not exclusive to startups; they are pervasive across the industry, requiring strategic solutions to overcome them.

DQ: What is the idea behind founding Shorter Loop, and what specific problem does the company aim to address? 


Kinshuk Kale: It's a great question because we constantly emphasize solving customers' problems. In fact, it's almost all we talk about. So, why does the Shorter Loop exist? Simply put, we exist to assist companies in delivering products that their customers love. Although it's a challenging task, we firmly believe it doesn't have to be that way. Our conviction is rooted in the belief that by following a specific process we call the "process of continuous discovery," anyone with a great idea can bring forth a remarkable product.

Our approach involves helping customers identify a significant problem that holds importance for their own customers and needs resolution. Following that, we guide them in pinpointing a great solution for that problem. Subsequently, we aid in communicating both the problem and its solution across the entire organization, ensuring everyone is aligned. From there, we assist in the building process, breaking down the solution into manageable parts.

Once our customers have identified the core problem and its solution, the crucial step of communicating this vision to the organization comes into play. This involves planning the versions of the solution and finally executing the build. However, the journey doesn't conclude once the solution is built; it extends to putting it in the hands of customers, collecting feedback, analyzing that feedback for valuable insights, and then enhancing the solution based on those insights. This entire process forms a continuous loop from idea to outcome to insights and back.


This iterative cycle is precisely why we call ourselves the Shorter Loop — we are dedicated to shortening the loop between idea, outcome, and feedback. That's who we are.

DQ: Shorter Loop emphasizes learning from customer feedback. Can you discuss how the platform encourages a culture of knowledge-sharing within organizations, particularly in terms of learning from both successes and setbacks?

Kinshuk Kale: One key feature we offer is an analytics platform designed to streamline data gathering from various systems such as your CRM system, Google Analytics, or other financial platforms. This allows you to aggregate all your data onto a unified dashboard, providing everyone in the organization with a clear awareness of your organizational standing. This is currently in beta stages, and will be made available to the general public soon.


In addition, we provide insights based on this data. For instance, with the assistance of Shorter Loop, you can answer questions like: What are the top three most frequently taken buyer journeys for my product? What are the biggest pain points during those journeys for my customers? These insights serve as valuable learning opportunities.

Regarding collaboration, we offer a suite of tools. Our platform is visual and collaborative, ensuring that as you work on it, everyone else can easily track progress and understand the current status. Information is effortlessly disseminated to all team members. Additionally, we provide tools like a digital whiteboard and a documentation wiki, further enhancing collaboration by offering effective ways to gather and organize information.

DQ: As artificial intelligence dominates current discussions within the tech industry, could you elaborate on how your company leverages this cutting-edge technology in its offerings? 


Kinshuk Kale: Indeed, AI holds significant importance, although it has become somewhat of a buzzword in recent times. Many claim to incorporate AI, but upon closer inspection, one might question the need for using a system like XYZ if its underlying infrastructure is essentially ChatGPT. The prevalence of AI in applications like text completion is widespread, and while it's functional and entertaining, it may not be as groundbreaking. The true power of AI emerges when it is applied to analyze vast amounts of data, extract insights, and contribute to the decision-making process.

It's one thing for AI to assist in document or email writing, but its real potential lies in bringing together diverse datasets. Consider scenarios where you need to understand your financial bottom line, assess your product backlog, set revenue goals, analyze user behavior through CRM databases and user analytics, and identify pain points. The ability to synthesize data from multiple sources is crucial in making informed decisions that enhance outcomes.

This is where the true power of AI lies - not just in processing information, but in synthesizing it to draw meaningful insights. We're committed to advancing in this direction, constantly working towards leveraging AI to its full potential. In about six months, we anticipate reaching significant milestones in this endeavor.

DQ: Looking at the broader industry, how do you see product management evolving in the next few years, and where does Shorter Loop fit into this evolving landscape? 

Kinshuk Kale: Product management is poised to be not only crucial but also incredibly exciting moving forward. In the past decade, when the economy thrived, ample venture capital funds were available to almost anyone, leading to lavish spending. However, with venture capital becoming scarce and a heightened reliance on generating revenue for survival, the spotlight is now on the product.

Your customers don't perceive the grandeur of your buildings or the brilliance of your employees; what matters most is how effectively your product addresses their needs. As this importance of product management grows, continuous discovery becomes indispensable. Relying on past market research to shape the product for a lifetime is no longer feasible in the rapidly evolving technological landscape.

Given the swift pace of technological advancements and the dynamic nature of customer preferences, staying abreast of your customers' needs is paramount. Continuous discovery is the key to understanding the next problem you're solving, identifying what concerns your customers, and pinpointing the next small improvement that can enhance their lives and keep them as loyal customers. While this presents a substantial challenge for product management, it also opens up significant opportunities.

The evolving landscape of technology, the progress of AI, and the ability to gather extensive data and insights offer immense potential. Those who navigate these challenges adeptly and take product management seriously will likely be the successful unicorns of the next decade. In contrast, those who neglect this aspect may find themselves relegated to the status of also-ran companies.

DQ: What is the companys vision and long term strategic direction when it comes to the India Market? 

Kinshuk Kale: In the Indian market, our target audience encompasses three distinct customer segments: startups, scale-ups, and enterprises. The methodology we emphasize, continuous discovery, is of critical essence for all these segments in the realm of product management. Our strategic plan involves targeting all three customer segments.

While some may express concerns about spreading ourselves too thin, we believe we have the capacity to execute this plan successfully. Additionally, we are actively building a partner ecosystem, where our partners will act as force multipliers, aiding in further market penetration. Our primary focus will be on scale-ups, with a secondary emphasis on enterprises. For startups, we are offering a free product to encourage as many founders as possible to utilize our product, enhancing their offerings and potentially becoming our customers as they scale up and benefit from our product.

In essence, our approach aims to provide value across the spectrum, leveraging our partner ecosystem and a free product offering to foster growth and engagement within the startup community, with the ultimate goal of converting them into long-term customers as they progress to the scale-up stage.