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Research and Development is Product Management

Say yes first, and then figure out how to do it later.”

Marc Rubner, VP of Product Management and Marketing at Blackboard, shares how he builds new products from within established companies and how he inspires his customers in the edtech market to buy.


Large organizations are not organized to build new products, they’re organized to defend what they’ve already built. That’s what Marc said is the biggest challenges he’s faced in his 25 years of experience building new businesses from within large organizations.

To solve this challenge, Marc recommends research and development teams set up their physical space apart from the rest of the organization, measure success over the course of years instead of months, and recruit people who thrive in that environment. This approach helped him start and scale a new business unit from within American Express.

After 13 years of research and development experience at American Express, Marc moved into edtech, a market with notoriously risk averse customers. To overcome the procurement challenges of selling to schools, Marc strives to build products that meet three key criteria:

He then paints a clear before and after picture that shows the customer that the risk of not adopting his product is greater than the risk of the change that comes with adopting a new technology.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about market segmentation, customer development, and product positioning.

Here are the highlights:

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