3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Dheerja Kaur, Head of Product at theSkimm

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Can you tell us a little bit more about theSkimm and what you do?

theSkimm is a company that makes it easier to be smarter by delivering news and information into people’s existing routines. We started with the Daily Skimm, an email newsletter in your inbox Monday-Friday that tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in the world. A few months ago we launched a subscription app with our new product, Skimm Ahead, that tells you everything you need to know for the future, and can integrate directly into your calendar.

We’re at an exciting time right now — we have an audience of over 3.5 million active subscribers (and growing), and we’re starting to move into video with the launch of Skimm Studios.

As Head of Product, I think of my role in two parts — product strategy and product execution. On the strategic side, I work with our founders to evolve our product vision, come up with new ideas to test, and always think 3–6 months ahead to where we want Skimm products to be. On the execution side, I’m working side by side with the entire company — design, engineering, editorial, growth, cash money (yes that’s a team) — to create, build, and ship products and campaigns.

As the Head of Product, how do you stay up-to-date with the most relevant changes in technology?

It’s a challenge, but it’s also a huge part of my job so it’s important that I’m always a few steps ahead. I set aside time in my daily routine — both morning and evening — to read the latest industry blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and Twitter to make sure I’m up to date on any big news of the day. I especially love Ben Thompson’s Stratechery for great industry analysis.I also constantly stalk the App Store and download new apps daily to check out product and UX/UI trends.

Most importantly, I have weekly “sacred” time set aside to brainstorm for a few hours in front of a whiteboard (I love whiteboards. Seriously.) and think big. I try to pick a different topic a week and go deep on what we can try and test.

What’s one new skill that you would love to learn in 2017?

I’d love to try some iOS development. I started my career in engineering on the web, and eventually moved to mobile, but still worked server side to power apps via APIs. iOS is always something I’ve wanted to dig in on, especially with Swift, and a small startup environment is a great place to do that. Plus we launched a stickers app with iOS10, so I’m thinking that might be my gateway.

Oh also — I want to learn more about sales and making deals from our cash money team. They’re kind of badass.