Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Velocity over everything: How Ramp became the fastest-growing SaaS startup of all time | Geoff Charles (VP of Product)

Velocity over everything: How Ramp became the fastest-growing SaaS startup of all time | Geoff Charles (VP of Product)

Brought to you by Ezra—The leading full-body cancer screening company | Coda—Meet the evolution of docs | Attio—The powerful, flexible CRM for fast-growing startups

Geoff Charles is VP of Product at Ramp—the fastest-growing SaaS startup of all time, Fast Company’s #1 Most Innovative Company in North America, and a company I believe we should all study for how they operate, execute, and hire. At Ramp, Geoff has led the product team from the early days, including the development and release of 60+ products and features in the past year alone. He has been building financial services for over a decade, and his interview in Lenny’s Newsletter quickly became one of the most widely read newsletter issues of all time. In today’s podcast, we will discuss:

• How velocity is at the heart of Ramp’s culture and success

• How writing can unlock clarity, creativity, and rapid problem-solving

• How to empower your product team through context sharing

• How to practically approach problems from first principles

• How Ramp approaches hiring in a unique way

• Suggestions for breaking into the world of product management

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, and YouTube.

Find the full transcript at: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/velocity-over-everything-how-ramp-became-the-fastest-growing-saas-startup-of-all-time-geoff-charl/#transcript

Where to find Geoff Charles:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/geoffintech

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffrey-charles/

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Geoff’s background

(04:49) An overview of Ramp

(06:20) The importance of velocity at Ramp

(08:50) Single-threaded goals and how to keep teams away from distractions

(13:20) Setting lofty goals

(15:17) How Ramp empowers teams

(17:37) How Geoff’s management style has evolved at Ramp

(19:55) The product design process at Ramp

(21:19) Ramp’s system for sharing feedback

(23:07) How Ramp handles bug fixes 

(24:15) Advice for PMs who want to move faster

(29:29) Why velocity and impact can help protect against burnout

(32:33) Planning vs. doing

(37:54) Ramp’s strategy documents 

(40:55) Finding your unique positioning

(42:46) OKRs

(44:53) The importance of first-principle thinking

(48:53) How to use writing to think through problems 

(51:46) How Geoff carves out time for deep work

(54:05) How Geoff manages tasks and stays organized

(57:15) Why other roles share the PM load at Ramp

(1:00:30) PM responsibilities at Ramp

(1:01:46) Identifying A+ talent

(1:06:02) The skills Ramp looks for when hiring

(1:07:33) Advice for people wanting to break into product management 

(1:10:37) Lightning round


• How Ramp builds product: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/how-ramp-builds-product

• Bill: https://www.bill.com/

• Expensify: https://www.expensify.com/

• Concur: https://www.concur.com/

• Coupa: https://www.coupa.com/

• Nicole Forsgren on Lenny’s Podcast: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/how-to-measure-and-improve-developer-productivity-nicole-forsgren-microsoft-research-github-goo/

• Sheryl Sandberg on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheryl-sandberg-5126652/

Getting Things Done: https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-Free-Productivity/dp/0143126563

When Breath Becomes Air: https://www.amazon.com/When-Breath-Becomes-Paul-Kalanithi/dp/081298840X

The Bear on Hulu: https://www.hulu.com/series/the-bear-05eb6a8e-90ed-4947-8c0b-e6536cbddd5f

• Whoop: https://www.whoop.com/

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.