Meet the Writer: HackerNoon's Contributor Konstantin Malkov - Product Managerby@malkovko
3,081 reads
3,081 reads

Meet the Writer: HackerNoon's Contributor Konstantin Malkov - Product Manager

by Konstantin MalkovApril 3rd, 2024
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

Konstantin Malkov is a product manager with over 7 years of experience building customer-centric consumer mobile apps. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on sustainable growth, the importance of onboarding, and the joy of writing.
featured image - Meet the Writer: HackerNoon's Contributor Konstantin Malkov - Product Manager
Konstantin Malkov HackerNoon profile picture

So let’s start! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey everyone✌️My name is Konstantin Malkov, I’ve been in Product Management for over seven years, mainly working on consumer mobile apps. I love identifying what is it that people are trying to achieve in different situations to come up with a product that really matters. I am particularly proud of accelerating the growth of a fintech mobile app from 1.2M to 12M Monthly Active Users while building a product-led culture within the company.

Besides work, I am really into writing. I started at 14 or 15 and haven’t stopped ever since. At first, I was writing about skateboarding. Then came interface copy, tech specs, pitches, and mission updates. My latest endeavor is reflecting on my professional experience and sharing knowledge with the community.

While we are here, I want to give a special shout-out to my beautiful wife who has been through everything with me on this journey! Love you, P❤️

Interesting! What was your latest HackerNoon Top story about?

It is a huge honor to be featured in HackerNoon’s Top Story with my article on 15 User Onboarding Techniques I Found In Consumer Mobile Apps. I have a real passion for crafting sleek, exceptional user experience by digging into what people are trying to get done. It is a privilege to be able to talk to customers and get a glimpse into their lives.

Onboarding has a tremendous impact on both customers and businesses. The first impression matters. If onboarding doesn’t bring new customers to their first a-ha! moment, they leave (and hardly return ever again). I love exploring how products from different industries approach this challenge of communicating value with clarity, care, and speed.

Do you usually write on similar topics? If not, what do you usually write about?

I love taking my professional expertise or at least personal experience as a starting point and then building up from there. For example, I’ve been lucky to build onboarding for three mobile apps. Thus, it was only natural to pick up the topic for my very first article. While it’s hard to include years of experiments into a single post, I reflected on the general approach that I worked out to improve onboarding. In no way is it an ultimate guide, but it is a good, comprehensive place to start for those who are just breaking into the subject.

Another approach that helps me write is just documenting random observations. A new product I tried? Take at least one thing I enjoyed and share what’s so exciting about it. Receive an unusual newsletter? Figure out how it managed to capture my attention and post it on socials. Listened to a podcast? Note down some quotes that move me. The beauty of such observations is that even if they don’t give you immediate return they tend to add up over time. After all, that's how I wrote my top story for HackerNoon!

Great! What is your usual writing routine like (if you have one?)

I wish I could relate to the common advice on writing: put your ideas into words as fast as you can without spending time on typos, grammar, and tone. Unfortunately, I end up all over the place every time I write. Even now, when I recall the advice above, I have to Google it to make sure I’m not quoting it wrong. While Googling, I encountered two other articles on writing that I immediately wanted to read. Luckily, I managed to put them aside by noting them in my to-do list so I could get back to answering this interview.

One thing that works for me surprisingly well, is writing in a limited space. I mean, I literally make my Notes window like 1/6 of a laptop screen. That way, it looks like I am making progress really fast. And that, in return, gives me confidence to continue. As much as I don’t like typing on mobile, a small screen does the same trick for me. It is one thing to start an A4 page that doesn’t even fit into a screen. But it is a whole lotta easier to write an IG caption that looks significant, even if it is just 2–3 sentences long.

Being a writer in tech can be a challenge. It’s not often our main role, but an addition to another one. What is the biggest challenge you have when it comes to writing?

I know it is different for everyone, but for me, the main challenge is gaining confidence that I know the subject well enough. Otherwise, who am I to make judgments or spread yet another useless information? The Internet is full of low-quality content, not to mention crappy SEO pages. While I have nothing against getting exposure per se, it’s just too bad that it involves piling up the waste we have to go through when we really need to find something. I don’t want to add up to that.

There is one rule of thumb that helps me avoid producing useless knowledge: would the information that I create help my past self? Would it save me time? Would it give me confidence? Would it entertain me? Would it help me make better decisions? If the answer to one of these questions is Yes, then there is a point in going for it.

What is the next thing you hope to achieve in your career?

It is not specifically about achievements. It is more about gaining experience. I am fortunate enough to identify product/market fit for a couple of products and to scale up a company from 90 employees operating in a project-driven environment to 250 employees driven by product-led culture and working in autonomous cross-functional teams.

My current interests revolve around the topic of sustainable growth. The tech industry is obsessed with growth. Exponential growth, growth hacking, growth mindset, growth team, growth engine, hypergrowth. If a startup doesn’t show enough growth, it is doing it wrong. Yet, there is less talk about the inevitable sacrifices the growth takes from both the product and the people who build it: lack of focus, abandoned values, growing tech debt that will be reworked as soon as a company finds its Ideal Customer Profile, chaotic environment, poor work-life balance, etc.

I want to explore how things can be done differently. I barely scratched the surface with my article on 5 Tech Companies That Work Differently. The next big step is to figure out the path to sustainable growth myself. Hit me up on LinkedIn if you are up for the challenge.

Wow, that’s admirable. Now, something more casual: What is your guilty pleasure of choice?

For years, I’ve been listening to tons of music on SoundCloud. For some reason, there is stuff there you can’t find anywhere else. Plus, you have remixes and mashups of your favorite songs that are legally forbidden for publishing on other platforms. Often, they sound more fun than the originals, haha.

For over seven years, I’ve been making monthly playlists out of the tracks I enjoyed. Recently, I published my 86th one. Give it a listen!

Writing! I have been blogging about niche menswear and travel for over 10 years. Last year, I started a newsletter in English. I believe in first-hand experiences. There is just too much generic stuff on the internet that holds no real value. I don’t want yet another '10 best things you should try‘ list. I want just one or two, but from a source I can relate.

I love digging. It’s not only about finding clothes that get better with age; it is about diving deep into the stories and intricacies behind them. It is surely not about fancy travel destinations; it’s about finding hidden gems that manage to stay true to their craft.

In my newsletter, I share these experiences first-hand. Hopefully, you can relate.

What can the HackerNoon community expect to read from you next?

Writing is a powerful tool for learning new things. I have been going through lots of problem-solving interviews lately. At first, I didn’t know where to start. While information is abundant on the internet, finding sources you can trust becomes harder and harder.

Of course, you have books written on the topic. But when you are just starting out, and everything seems to be extremely hard and scary, you want some very basic guidance that would help you make your first steps. I spent too much time researching what I could expect from a problem-solving interview. Now, I want to write a short guide on the challenge so that people spend less time researching it and more time actually preparing for it.

Feel like I might be a good fit for a role at your company? Do not hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

What’s your opinion on HackerNoon as a platform for writers?

I am so thankful to HackerNoon for providing a platform and audience for tech writers who are just embarking on this journey. There is an enormous gap between industry-leading publications with acclaimed authors and no-name writers sharing thoughts on socials and blogs. HackerNoon is bridging that gap by helping new writers start and spreading the word to bring them recognition.

Thanks for taking time to join our “Meet the writer” series. It was a pleasure. Do you have any closing words?

Thank you for having me! It means a lot. If I can be of any help, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or even book a mentoring session on Meander.