Passionate product people are flying from across the country to Cleveland on September 11th and 12th for Industry 2015. We asked a few why they are making the trip and to share a little bit more about themselves and what they are working on.

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Taylor Dawson, Product Evangelist, FirstBuild | Louisville, KY

“As a product manager and marketer for cutting edge products, I’m looking for more efficient ways to reach my target audience to refine value propositions.”

Products: FirstBuild is a GE Appliance subsidiary and my role is to launch, market, and sell innovative products to evaluate product-market fit. I’ve launched 8 products in the last year. The most recent is the Opal Nugget Ice Maker, which is trending toward a $3MM Indiegogo campaign. We found a need in the marketplace by listening to consumer feedback.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
Successful products are those that meet consumer needs. Product-market fit is a measure of a product manager’s grasp of the realities of the marketplace.

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Dave Chiang, Manager of Product Management, American Greetings Interactive | Cleveland, OH

“[I want to] gain an insight on exciting things happening in the CLE. Also I am excited to meet with others in our area and help educate them on what American Greetings is doing in the interactive space.”

Products: The Product Team focuses on improving existing and innovating on new features for our suite of website (AmericanGreetings.com, BlueMountain.com, Cardstore.com, justWink.com) and mobile applications (justWink Greeting Cards, Live Greetings, Cardstore Greeting Cards and Creatacard Card Maker to name a few). Most recently we developed an Apple Watch App for justWink Greeting Cards.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
Anything physical, virtual, or a service that satisfies a user’s need.

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Don Petrasek, SVP Product, PEX Card | New York, NY

“Opportunities for me to specifically network with other Product professionals have been limited. The fact that I can this right in Cleveland is awesome!”

Product: Visa Prepaid Card designed for use by Small to Mid-Sized Businesses. We discover new use cases every day for our product. Our goal is to provide small businesses with payment tools that are generally only made available by banks to the largest companies…..and via a platform that is both user friendly and fully functional.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
Product means a solution to a problem that is delivered in a way that is intuitive for the user and completely resolves the issue.

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Abigail Nelson, Project Coordinator, Captix | Austin, TX

“I’m coming to Industry to learn from the experts! As someone who is relatively new in product management, I’m excited to hear their stories and then apply what I learn to my own projects.”

Products: CaptixOverpass.

We just launched a new product called Overpass. It’s a lead retrieval application that’s pioneering because you can capture data from anything. Users simply snap a photo of any business card, or even just notes scribbled on a napkin. Then, we transcribe and format that lead data and send it back to the user in a prettily packaged Excel file that’s ready to go.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
To me, product means innovation. Working on a product means I’m creating something innovative that fills a real need.

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Jennifer Foster, Principal & COO, Brilliant Experience | Baltimore, MD

“I’m eager to learn more about the latest innovations and challenges product managers face to ensure we continue to best serve our clients.”

Product: We specialize in advanced UX research of products so I get to work with product managers to evaluate user needs through interviews, test early product versions and redesigns, and develop strategies based on our findings. My work ensures the products they create are the ones their customers can’t live without!

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
Anything that can be offered to a customer to fulfill a need. Much of our work lately has been in support of services as products rather than tangible items.

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Ben Koonse, Product Manager, Intuit | San Diego, CA

“Coming to Industry to hone my skills.”

Product: The TurboTax app, people think doing taxes on the phone is a horrendous idea, I’m here to change their mind.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
Product means delivering value.

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Manoj Jhaveri, Founder, Ten09 Consulting | Cleveland, OH

“[I want to] learn about what others are doing to reinvent the great Midwest. Also [to] connect with potential business partners and clients that share a passion for product development, design thinking and innovation beyond the core.”

Product: Our product is a consulting service – partnering with our client’s to help their organization adopt new processes, practices, mindsets and organizational structures that enable growth beyond their current core business. Our main service offering is focused on Design Thinking and Agile Project Management – but we will integrate other areas as well such at Lean Startup Toolkit, Open Innovation, Disruption Theory, etc.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
I think that product today is more about providing an “experience” versus a standalone, silo’ed product. Great products/services cross multiple boundaries and incorporate various types of innovation (see Doblin’s book: Ten Types of Innovation for numerous examples of this concept).

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Tim Balzer, Product Manager, Roadtrippers | Cincinnati, OH

“There are two main reasons I’m attending Industry: 1) To surround myself with the type of creative minds that are pushing the Product envelope further and further each year, and 2) To find out how my successes and heartaches can help others grow and learn.”

Product: I’m currently working on the trip planning and discovery components of Roadtrippers on web, iPhone, and Android. We find this extremely interesting as it helps us to improve the way that our users plan trips, large and small–something that some platforms do pieces of, but very few execute from discovery and planning all the way to completion and recollection.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
While some of the best products can highlight the ingenuity an innovation of its creators (yay, product teams!), the most important thing a product can be is a tool that empowers someone to do amazing things.

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Kate Lockhart, Product Manager, Black Locus Home Depot Innovation Lab | Austin, TX

“I think everyone who has done this job has a great story to tell to help others as they navigate the product world. Plus, I’m always working to get better at this role.”

Product: We are building tools that help Home Depot put the right products in the right stores. It’s a fantastic mix of data analytics, business perspective and common sense. It’s amazing how many factors affect this process and trying to account for all of these takes a team of builders and users.

What does ‘product’ mean to you today?
I think the idea of product is just exploding now. We have begun to think about users in such a way that the approach to building has fundamentally changed. It sounds so easy to identify what people need/want and just go build it but there is so much more to uncover.