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Fireside chat with Sai Krishna Bolla

Who is Sai Krishna?

Sai Krishna is a product management professional with over a decade of experience building and shipping digital products. He is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Bolla Group – a company that owns and operates ten product lines selling 70+ products and services, and for which he was nominated as one of the ‘Top 50 Tech Visionaries’ in the world. He is also a published author with four books and an obsessively curious learner with 18 Diplomas in varied subjects.

In three words, Sai Krishna is an Author, Entrepreneur, and Product Manager.

Tell us more about your role in Bolla Group.

My role as a product manager entails conducting market research, identifying customer needs and problems, setting a vision, getting people (cross-functional teams) together, and leading them toward that shared vision. Essentially my role at Bolla Group juggles between answering two most important questions: what to do? And how to do it?
I work closely with teams from business, engineering, design, legal, and policy functions of the business to build and ship products with a profound customer impact.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

The act of building and shipping products is in itself an art and a science. My role entails working with people – customers, functional team members, and stakeholders. The most challenging yet rewarding part is understanding how to influence without authority and making everyone work, much like cogs in a clock, to achieve a work product. For much time it feels like doing a tightrope walking while juggling balls, but when you see the impact you have made on the customers and their lives, it makes the job that much worth it.

Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?

I am still figuring out a definitive answer to this question. Part of the reason was the unconventional path I took – from almost going to medical school to transitioning to a business major and further pursuing an advanced degree in technology – while simultaneously building expertise in law and policy. From the bottom, it looks like a bunch of scattered dots but looking back at it from the top and connecting those dots, those varied interests and knowledge helped me build great products by affording me the flexibility to work with cross-functional teams and variable perceptual frames. But, throughout my career, the vision of building better products with a bigger impact remained a constant, and everything I have pursued led me toward that vision – hence the conundrum.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

My key strategy has always been the relentless focus on the customer – understanding their problems and better equipping/strategizing to solve them. It may seem like a simple enough principle, but it made us what we are today and is shaping the conversation around what we aim to be in the future.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

The pandemic has shifted (or more truly accelerated the pace of shift in) the paradigm of users and technology. Post-pandemic, we have seen users gravitate toward more unique digital experiences as technology adaptation and usage soared. However, with the current economic trends and the entire technology industry at a crutch, companies are becoming more focused on retaining customers and are scaling back on ambitious new projects. As we advance and the economic trends reach pre-pandemic levels, we are looking at a favorable business climate and growth, with a lot of opportunity – primarily driven due to the paradigm shift that happened during the pandemic.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Given the pandemic and the suite of remote working tools, the other three technologies that significantly impacted our business are Artificial Intelligence, 5G and the new generation of smart devices, and Virtual Reality. These technologies have shaped our product roadmap and differentiated customer experiences.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

I am an avid book reader and carry an e-book reader everywhere. However, I currently have the following paperback books on my nightstand:

  • “INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love” by Marty Cagan
  • “The Rosie Project: A Novel” by Graeme Simsion
  • Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World by René Girard
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