Operator Spotlight: Product with Ridhi Shad

A glimpse into the life of a product lead at an early-stage startup


Folklore Ventures

November 8, 2022

Every startup has a story, and every startup’s story is shaped by its people – from founders to developers, marketers to strategists.

For anyone with an interest in building legendary companies from the ground up, there are a myriad of exciting and rewarding pathways to choose from. However, given that a number of startup roles are brand new and not typically studied at university, it can take time to figure out which is right for you. 

So, our new Spotlight series offers an inside look at life at early-stage, VC backed startups and will share the stories of different Folks across our community, coming from a wide range of roles and experiences. Here we’ll cover the highs and lows of their day-to-day experiences.

We hope that getting to know ambitious startup operators will help you to determine what your next step looks like, how to level up and get there, and where you can have the biggest impact. 

This month, we’ve talked to Ridhi Shad, Head of Product at Lived – an app that is transforming the way people living with addiction access and experience support. 

What’s your startup story? 

I started my career about 14 years ago as a junior engineer. For the past 10 years, I've been in startups and love the hustle plus the get sh*t done attitude. As an Engineering Manager, I started being exposed to both members and the product, and realised that my true calling was in product management.

I am currently working at Lived as the Head of Product, where we are helping people with complex health conditions, starting with alcohol addiction. It's the smallest team that I have ever worked with and probably also the earliest stage. It is truly rewarding to be working at a place where the product you create is for purpose and positively impacts so many lives.

Every day, we're trying to find new ways to help our members find and connect with peers who they can learn from and connect with. The app currently features guides from all walks of life who have been through their own journeys and are now giving back to those who need help now. We are looking to create a personalised, self paced and rewarding experience that helps members find paths to succeed with their own goals.

What does your day-to-day look like as a Head of Product?

Like most product folks, my day starts with a standup where as a team we align on priorities and talk about how to remove hurdles in order to create value for our members every day. Most days I am deep in members insights, data, strategy and competitor analysis, while also being tactical and getting my hands dirty with design tasks, diving deep into technical designs with the team, and because it's a startup, also being a part-time customer support rep (what better way to stay close to members and their feedback?).

What kind of impact are you hoping that the Lived app will have? 

Our vision is to become the place for anyone going through a complex health condition to find answers, connection and motivation with whatever they're going through. We want to be able to create a true peer support network where human knowledge and insights can be leveraged in a scalable, humanised way for anyone who needs it.

Is there anything that people need to know about building a startup? Are there any particular highlights or lowlights? 

I don't see myself going back to big corporations, so there are definitely many more highlights for me. The speed and scale at which you can create change at a startup is unparalleled. Going from an idea to being able to test it with real members in a matter of days is truly exhilarating. Of course, it does come at the cost of being switched on all the time and some crazy hours. It's all worth it though if you're truly passionate about your role.

Do you have any tips or resources for people who are hoping to land a growth role at a startup, or launch their own? 

People and sources I follow ardently are Gibson Biddle, Reforge and Marty Cagan. Some advice I've valued from my own mentor is that nothing beats speed and action. The day belongs to those who take action and take it fast. 

Stay tuned for more Spotlights, and if you’re ready to apply for an ambitious startup role, check out our portfolio job board or express your interest in our Chapters: short, immersive experiences for future startup leaders.

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