I'm Kathy Le, I lead the Local Monetization Product team at Yelp and am also the Board Director of an Angel group.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Kathy Le. As Yelp’s Head of Product for Local Monetization, I lead the product team to monetize Yelp Ads (cost per click ads) and Yelp's Upgrade Package. I oversee end-to-end monetization from acquisition, pricing, bundling to retention, advertiser experience, and customer support initiatives.

I’ve also been the Board Director of the Chicago Booth Angel Network Silicon Valley for the last two years. CBANSV is a collective of Angels who are University of Chicago alumni. I lead the deal-sourcing and co-manage our operations across the entire deal flow and application process.

I was born and raised in Vietnam and lived in Singapore for 9 years before moving to the US. I am also an active Real Estate Investor. I really love travelling and being exposed to different cultures. I have travelled to more than 30 countries and my dream is to cross the 100-country-mark!

Ask me anything about leading cross-functional teams, launching products, acquisition marketing, growth, managing people, digital ads, angel investing, or something else!

Thanks so much for joining us @kathylenguyen!Elphas – please ask @kathylenguyen your questions before Friday, October 22nd. @kathylenguyen may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites πŸ”₯πŸ‘πŸΎβž•
Hi Kathy, I would love to know what role frameworks and process play in your work developing and launching products. How do you design those frameworks? How do you build flexibility into your workflows?
@meganrichards Hi Megan, thanks for your question. It is pretty broad so I hope I can give you a good answers. Framework and Process: When I was an IC PM, I usually create a process working with Engineers, Designers and other stakeholders. Now as a PM managger, I create process for my PMs team.The framework and process are usually created after pain points. So when I start leading a team / product area, there may be some certain process in places and I usually ask the stakeholders how the existing processes / frameworks work and any painpoints. Then I may draft a change (usually not dramatic change). On when I get my hands dirty for 3-4 months, I may agressively change the process along the way. Processes and frameworks should evolve over time. Over time, there are new needs, new stakeholders, new pain points. I usually revisit the process every 3-6 months. Also the key is to get feedback, as your process always affect the stakeholders in the process. Hope that helps.
@kathylenguyen Hello Kathy, thank you so kindly for this opportunity. I am interested in learning more about launching a product. I have had an app idea for a few years and have yet to find a mentor and a way to produce the app. Any advice/recommendations?
Hi @candancesparks Thanks for your question! Love to hear startup idea! My advice is to find a very cheap way to validate product / market fit first. For example, instread of building an app, do a prototype / mock-up to see how your potential audience / customers may respond to it. In the old days of Doordash, DoorDash founders actually just created a dumb website to receive order, they then called restaurants to create order and delivered the food :). It is a lot expensive to build an app, so I usually would validate some product / market fit in the cheap / hacky way first. Once I have some traction that way, then it is also easy to find founders or mentors. To find mentors and founders, a good forum is YC. YC has free classes online, and that is a good forum to mingle with others like minded. Suggest to try it out.
Hi @kathylenguyen Thanks for hosting the office hour! As a product manager in a 500+ people, late internet startup in APAC, I've often faced the challenges of working cross-functionally with product managers of various verticals. I noticed I've spent most of my time aligning with different teams rather than working on the solutions or experimenting with cool new features. Hence, I'd like to learn from you on:1. How did you determine the right scope, sponsorship, and resources to roll out E2E projects effectively?2. What were the challenges you faced and how did you address them?Btw I'm working and living in SG and it's so great to know our shared background :)
@AmberL Thanks for your questions. This is a good question. When I move up my PM career ladder, here is what I realize:1. The more senior I am, the more I focus on the figure out what customer problems to solve (less on the solutions) and try to align the entire organization to agree with me on the customer problems. The more junior PMs will help to execute a well-defined customer problems, and often in time, can come up with very good solutions. Sometimes, I would just delegate to Designer or PMM to help with solution designs. So rest assured that, if you are aligning different teams, that is a very high leveraged work to do, and you are getting more senior :) 2. Roll out E2E projects effectively: The biggest challenge I faced is that the teams have different priority. It could be the same project, but some think that the project is worth $X, some think that the project is worth $Y. If teams have different priorities, it is just hard to align with them. If the teams have the the same priority and goals, execution and detailed rollout is pretty easy to achieve. Now, as a manager of PMs, I usually will ask myself if we need some top-down buy-in to get team alignment, aka. strategy direction that all teams need to invest in X. I think that is what you mean by "sponsorship". If it is within my scope, I will try to align / do some sponsor for my PMs in very difficult projects. If it is beyond my scope, then I will ask my manager to sponsor project. So the key for me is to manage up and manage down, and realize when I need to sponsor, and when I need to ask for my manager sponsor. Also spare in mind, when I ask my manager to "Sponsor", there is some "social captial" that my manager needs to play, so I should not ask that often. It is a bit of an art to manage up and down. Hope that helps. Best,
Thank you, Kathy! 'Manage up and manage down' is critical to success and I have a lot to learn here :)
Hi there Kathy! It's great to read about your experience, it is truly inspiring! I'm not sure if my question would fit in here, but being in the ads space, would you know where one may begin to pitch my illustration services? I am looking to branch out into the startup space!! Thank you so much!! Kindly, Sophie
@sophiafurman Great that you want to branch out into the startup space. When to pitch: Whenever you feel ready! Bare in mind though, some investors love to hear new / crazy ideas without tangible products, some investors want to see tangible products and some metrics to compare / contrast. The key is to pitch the right stage of your products to the right investors. Also do not burn the bridge. As your first impression is imporant, you may want to try the pitch to a smaller / safe forum to get feedback before go all in and reach out to big investors. Hope that helps!
Thank you, Kathy, for your insightful response! I had some more questions, please! :) How often does, say, your company need illustration help? :)
If you are talking about tech companies - all tech companies will need illustration help. Usually tech companies have dedicated design team, and we receive illustration from the design team. The design team may or may not use external illustration services, it depends on Design team capacity. So if you target Tech companies, then your customer is Head of Design team, for example. If you are talking about SME, usually they will need some form of website, flyers etc ... which they need illustration needs. Usually these SME will work with Design agency firm. That said, if you purely offer illustration services, your company is hardly considered "venture-back" startup, because ilustration services scale linearly, e.g to get more clients, you need more employees. If you create a software for illustration, or Marketplace to connect freelance illustrator and the companies, or create illustration templates to sell, the it could be considered "venture-back" startup. Hope that helps.
Thank you, Kathy, so much for your helpful response!! I know this may seem like a silly question, but what are the best ways to connect with the Head of Design? Do tech companies usually respond to cold emails or tend to go by referrals, or is it better to put my efforts to finding and signing with a design agency firm? My niche is children's industry, so I suppose I should aim there!! Thank you again!!! :)
Hi Kathy! I am thinking about setting up an Angel Network at my Alma Mater, curious to hear if you have any advice or recommendations in that!
Hi Sonora, You should not do alone! My recommendation is to connect with your school alumni who are active angel investors and who are working in VC space. Once you get a core group of 5-7 people who know the space well and who are passionate about setting up an Angel Network like you, you are in good shape! It is like a startup, to go far, you need "founding members". After the first step, here is what I think you should do:1. Talk with your Alma Mater to see how the school can support you (marketing, media, introduction, connect with Profs etc...) 2. Talk with your founding members to see how you want to setup your group. For us, we are non-profit and membership based group, and every investors invest to startup deals directly (e.g we are not a fund). Check out cbansv.com3. Start to think that it is like a 2 sided market place, you need good startup deal flows and you need good investors. Now your founding members who are in the space will be able to help you a lot, especially those in VC knows a lot of investors and startup deal flows to seed to your angel network. 4. It is a tons of work, you should divide and conquer, so having a group of Founding members who divide the work with you - who run operations, who run marketing, who run deal sourcing, who run due diligence, who run investor relation, and who run founder relation. Hope that helps :)
Hey Kathy! I’ve read a bunch of growth hack articles out there, but I’m curious to hear form someone who has done it directly. What’s the most creative growth hack you’ve seen or done for marketplaces?
Hello there, Thanks so much for your questions! First I would suggest to look at growth strategy (not growth hacks :) ) There are many different levers to grow a product, so usually a growth PM will look at the entire strategy holistically and define what levers will give the most growth leverage. After these levers have been identified, then growth PM will think about potential projects, ideas - often time being assocated as growth tactics or projects or sometimes "growth hack".I would suggest look into these 3 big areas / strategies to grow:- Can we create viral: How do we seed a viral growth, does it come from personal benefits, incentified (e.g some financial benefit such as referrals) and truely worth of month? - Can we grow by Content: Is it user generated or company generated or partner generated content, how do we distribute those content?- Can we grow using Paid: Is it sales, can we integrate with partners to growth, should we spend more paid marketing, which channels, etc...
What do you wish you knew when you first started Angel investing? Thank you for your energy and wisdom!
Hi there, Great question. One thing I wish I have learned that typical Angel Investors will need to work extra hard for good deal flows. Usually below or average startups will reach out to you, but for excellent Startups, Angel Investors will need to do some work to connect to them. So I am not the one who writes $1M check, I am not the famous Angels who are to be founder of $X billion companies. These $1M check Angels won't have hard time to get good startsup, but it is not me. So working on my network and working on connecting with good startups is one of my biggest suprises :)
Thank you so much for that! Makes sense. I will keep this in mind too! Yet again, a good reminder of how much your network can help.