Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) is Gaza’s first and only startup accelerator, run by Mercy Corps and founded with an initial grant from Google in 2011, and now a tech hub in the Google for Entrepreneurs partner network. GSG aims to provide Gaza’s most talented youth with opportunities to develop their skills and succeed as tech entrepreneurs. It conducts workshops and outreach to educate Gazans about technology and entrepreneurship, hosts major community events like hackathons and Startup Weekends, incubates promising startup teams each year, and facilitates seed investments into accelerated startups. GSG also hosts and trains freelancers and software outsourcers in its co-working space in downtown Gaza City.
Gaza Sky Geeks is a part of Mercy Corps, a global organization that has operated safely in Gaza for decades. Mercy Corps has facilitated travel for over 80 startup mentors from around the globe to Gaza in the past two years, and has international staff present in Gaza at most times.
GENERAL POSITION SUMMARY
As Gaza Sky Geeks’ first Product Manager, you will develop the field of product management in a market that has not yet had exposure to it. You will be charting new territory, inspiring and teaching eager entrepreneurs how to launch their products using an iterative, incremental, user-focused, and data-driven approach. You will be embedded into 10-25 idea stage teams, making critical product decisions that will impact the companies’ success. You will also be building the ecosystem around you by training and mentoring Gaza’s first generation of product managers.
This position is intended to be a regular full-time position. However, candidates who can only come for a specified amount of time will also be seriously considered, as long as they can commit to at least three months. Please make your preferences clear in your cover letter.
ESSENTIAL JOB RESPONSIBILITIES
During the first 3-6 months
● Be the embedded Product Manager for 10-25 idea stage startup teams entering an incubation program.
● Oversee those ideas and ensure each startup launches a minimum viable product, collects important customer insights, and decides what to test in the next iteration(s) of its product seeking product/market fit.
In the following 6 months:
● Hand over product management to a person on each team (or a few people in Gaza Sky Geeks’ community) who you have identified has the intuition and talent to become an excellent product manager.
● Mentor these people closely to enable them to succeed.
● Through a combination of formal teaching, mentoring, brown bagging, experiential teaching, and modeling through own behavior, teach key concepts, methodology, and skills in good product management techniques and culture.
By the end of 12 months:
● Have established the Gaza Sky Geeks product management handbook
● Teaching guide/curriculum, and begun to establish great product management skills and culture in our community.
● Define and articulate a clear vision that will enable Gaza Sky Geeks’ program to succeed over the next 1-2 years from a product management standpoint
● Identify the road forward – tailored to Gaza’s specific circumstances – to ensure that incubated/accelerated startups employ an iterative, incremental, user-focused, and data-driven approach and launch products successfully.
● Establish a talent pipeline for product management roles.
● Inspire individuals in the Gaza Sky Geeks community to want to become product managers, and grow their awareness of this field and its role in a successful startup launch.
● Work collaboratively and effectively with the rest of the Gaza Sky Geeks team, volunteers, and partners.
SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY: None
REPORTS DIRECTLY TO: Gaza Sky Geeks Director
WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: West Bank / Gaza Country Director, the Accelerator Manager & Coach Finance, Procurements, HR, and Logistics teams, Mercy Corps HQ-based Resource Development team
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
● 8 -10 years in relative field and role in a fast-paced and demanding work environment
● Demonstrated ability to launch products successfully using an iterative, incremental, user-focused, and data-driven approach.
● Great track record working well with a cross-functional team of engineers, designers, product marketing, user research, etc. People want to work with you again.
● Deep experience teaching, mentoring, and coaching people of various levels of experience. You have built and managed teams previously, and grown the people within them. You have an excellent ability to communicate complex concepts clearly to a wide audience, including laypeople.
● Love of early-stage environments: self-directed, excited to experiment continuously, passionate about figuring out what will make customers happy
● Decisive yet collaborative approach. You are excited to be a part of a team and eager to learn from their prior experience, especially in Gaza.
● Experience as a software engineer preferred
● Experience managing product design preferred
● Experience working in cross-cultural contexts preferred
● English proficiency required; Arabic language is a plus
We’re eager to shape this into the experience you’re seeking. Let us know what would excite you and we’ll consider it. In addition to the obvious (incredible social impact + an opportunity to learn from a dozen early-stage product launches), some possible opportunities in this role include:
● Spend a day a week in Tel Aviv to network and learn what’s cutting edge in Israel’s startup sector.
● Build your startup network throughout the Middle East – if you’d like, we’ll send you on (a) business trip to places like Beirut, Dubai, Amman, Cairo, etc.)
● Hire a team in Gaza to work on your startup for you. (We’ll cover the salaries of the first 3 employees.)
● Possibility of receiving equity in the companies you work with – will discuss with interested candidates
● If you fall in love with a particular startup, you could end up joining it as a founder!
This is an exceptional role: energizing, full of potential, creative, and challenging. Gazans are amongst the most inspiring people in the world and you will arrive at a potential tipping point in Gaza’s tech sector. You will literally see the impact of your work from month to month. You are fantastic at prioritizing and a seasoned product expert. You are eager to have positive social impact and you love to teach. You are analytical and rigorous, and you have emotional intelligence and build strong relationships. You are empathic and can understand what drives customers. You are professional and fun. You are a great teacher and mentor, including for people who are at a very early stage in their professional development – Gaza’s startup community is isolated and you’re coming to catch it up to speed. You are flexible and quick to adapt to new challenging situations. You do not flinch at power outages or border crossing delays. You are a strong believer in the tech sector’s ability to change the future of frontier markets.
WHAT THIS ROLE MEANS TO US
We’re forging new territory with a bold vision – and strong execution – to make the world a better place. We’ve got great experience and need even more brains and professional expertise to reach our goals. Your role represents a pivot in our program design. In our second round (2015-2016), we taught lean startup model in Gaza for the first time. Our teams quickly understood the concept of launching a minimum viable product and iterating rapidly, but struggled with challenges typical to inexperienced founders (e.g., scope creep, inaccurate estimation of effort required, inadequate data analysis on user behavior). You will fill the gap we have identified in Gaza’s ecosystem by giving our teams the best possible learning experience: being managed by someone who models excellent product management. Your presence will enable us to leapfrog several years of learning via experimentation.
LIVING CONDITIONS/ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
The position will be based in Gaza City during the work week (Sunday-Thursday) and Jerusalem or Tel Aviv on the weekends, and will involve commuting in/out of Gaza weekly by car. Occasional weekend and evening work may be required. In Jerusalem/Tel Aviv there is individual accommodation covered by a housing stipend, full freedom of movement and excellent amenities, access to medical care, and access to a car. In Gaza, there is shared apartment accommodation with freedom of movement if accompanied by local staff and using Mercy Corps drivers (depending on the security situation).
Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Staff are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
Organizational Learning: As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve – we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.
Accountability to Beneficiaries: Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.