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Raising The Bar [SKIP 2020]

Gabo Chaffee (BSBA '22)
July 23, 2020

Hi, my name is Gabriel Chaffee – everyone calls me Gabo. I am a rising Junior, double majoring in both Economics & Strategy, and Finance with a minor in Film and Media Studies. I am spending this summer working at a startup called MyStrengthBook, where we provide an online platform for Coaches, Powerlifters, and soon Olympic Weightlifters across the world. The application offers coaches a way to deliver programming to athletes, and athletes a way to choose from many coaches if desired, which enables them to improve athletic performance and track workouts.

I have always been very passionate about health and fitness, and I love technology – so I decided to seek out internships that would intersect under that umbrella. 

After a few failed attempts – including an initial internship that was canceled by COVID – I finally discovered MyStrengthBook on LinkedIn. I reached out cold and was ultimately able to connect and schedule a call with one of the co-founders. We had an excellent conversation. He detailed how I may be able to help him over the summer in a remote work-from-home environment – and he has been amazing ever since. I learn more from him every day in what it takes to bring a successful product to market and make both the company and product work.

Each day is a crash course in learning new skills and adapting to new situations.

The team is currently focused on branching out from the app’s current market of Powerlifters and into the adjacent market of Olympic Weightlifting. My role specifically is to function as the New Products Manager for the company, so roughly every week has been a different project along the product management continuum – with a different primary task and deliverable.

My very first task was to convert the “idea” we had of servicing an adjacent market into a Project Pitch. That pitch has served as our roadmap, providing Background, Opportunity, Return on Investment, Approach, Feature Development, and the all-important “definition of success” written in a way to share with the entirety of the team.

I then spent a couple of weeks of learning how to perform proper and effective market research. My most substantial deliverable was a thorough competitive analysis where I broke down the benefits, features and functionality, market positioning, and differentiators of 16 potentially competitive applications. This in-depth analysis included talking to users, researching web reviews, and then using the applications myself to focus on the User Interface and User Experience.

After understanding the competitive marketplace,  I spent a couple of weeks in “customer discovery” interviewing dozens of athletes and coaches as to what they need. This type of market research helped me understand the demand dynamics in the marketplace. From this, I developed a “gap analysis” to understand what the users are asking for, what the market is currently delivering, and how we can enter the market with a product that fills a need/addresses a problem.

My most recent deliverables are both a Product Requirements Document and associated slide deck that distills all of this into the action required to build our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the Olympic Weightlifting segment.

I admit that often I feel like I am drinking from a firehose. This experience has taught me many things that I only could have learned by working directly in a startup—especially things outside my Economics and Finance world. I’ve had my hands in everything across market competitors, customers, research, and now design. Being one of the only employees of this small company has allowed me to experience many different roles in one internship. I am happy I chose Skandalaris and MyStrengthBook to be my summer experience as opposed to something more typical. Having a direct impact on this startup and seeing the fruits of my labor on a daily basis has made the experience rewarding beyond my expectations.