How I Hustled My First Product Consulting Gig

Reconsidering My Career

I’ve been a software engineer my whole career but I follow the path of jack of all trades in that I dabble in areas including but not limited to mobile, web, and even design. I don’t particularly enjoy doing the same things in repetition so I tend to opt for a variety of responsibilities at work. I maintain a lack of enthusiasm to dive deep into any particular technology and become a master. I’ve become more and more interested in the high level and overseeing the product rather than the implementation. Which led to my interest in switching careers.

The First Steps

Around the time I was considering career switches (2019) I had already begun the preparation. Online product management courses and interviewing other product manager friends, coworkers, or people referred to me. I started looking in places that interested me the most. One of those areas was fitness and gamification.

Growing up a gamer in the world of RPGs there were incentives for every little task which contributed to the leveling up of your character upon completion. Personal fitness is one of those things that many people struggle with due to a lack of guidance and clear incremental gains. It’s an industry ripe for disruption and I discovered a gym just down the street from me called Black Box VR that combined virtual reality gamification with high intensity compound exercises. It was revolutionary to me.

They had built this resistance band machine that automatically adjusted the weight to be optimized for your potential strength and tracked your progress through an app. Inside the game you fight off waves of enemies by completing reps of a mix of bench press, rows, overhead press, squats, dead lifts, and lat pull downs. The competitive game you play distracts you from the repetitiveness and disguises the workout routine in strategic game play so you never have to think about what exercises you need to do. I was hooked and I got in the best shape of my life in just 3 months with their program.

The Hustle

I went into this gym 5 days a week before work and I never felt healthier, more accomplished. I started talking to all the other gym members asking what they liked about it, how it could be better. My mind was flowing with ideas of how to improve the experience because of how close they were to perfecting it. I started a discord community for the company and we started sharing in game strategies, progress updates, feedback tips and advice. I was leading this new age wave of buff nerds referring all the techies I know. The head brass of the company started noticing me because of how active I was and how much value I provided to them by fueling their online community.

The CEO and his Co-founder sent me an email asking to meet up for lunch the next time they came to SF. Since I was sucked into this industry, I was already researching competitors and collecting user feedback on how to improve the product. So I went to this lunch meeting prepared with a full presentation (message me and I can send you the whole deck) on product market fit, competitor analysis, user study findings and suggested improvements. They were beyond impressed.

Since I didn’t have the exprience or resume tailored for product management I couldn’t, nor did I want to, go the traditional route of job searching. I ended up finding a passion and doing the work to prove my competency. It paid off!

The Opportunities

Eventually Black Box VR (BBVR), the same masterminds behind, invited me to their headquarters in Boise, Idaho. It was such a blast getting to meet the whole team and to have influence in the direction of a company I truly valued. They respected me and brought me in as a consultant.

Shortly after I started working with BBVR I reached out to Onyx which was one of the companies I was researching from my competitive market analysis. I discovered that the founders and I had a lot of mutual friends and when we got coffee they immediately valued my limited expertise and background, enough to hire me as a consultant. So within a few months of pursuing this journey and absolutely zero experience in the field, I landed two consulting gigs.

It really seems that a combination of passion and hustle are the key ingredients to achieving whatever goals you may have. The hard part is figuring out what it is you are passionate about.

TLDR; the pandemic hit in 2020 and both companies struggled with funding, which is when I decided to pivot and start Red Door TV a global creative community.

© 2022. All rights reserved. Marco Chiang

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