Breaking Down Language Barriers: The Journey to Building Byrdhouse and the Four Levels of Product Needs


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 22, 2023

3 min read


Breaking Down Language Barriers: The Journey to Building Byrdhouse and the Four Levels of Product Needs


Language barriers can be a significant obstacle for immigrants, affecting their ability to express themselves and form meaningful connections. Inspired by personal struggles with language barriers, Snow Huo recognized the need for a solution that would break down these barriers and bring people closer together. This article explores the journey of creating Byrdhouse, an app designed to bridge language gaps, while also drawing parallels to Kwan's Hierarchy of Product Needs, which outlines the different levels of product management.

Level 1: Shipping Features ⛵

At the most basic level, a product manager's role is to drive decisions and ensure the successful delivery of features. In the case of Byrdhouse, the app aims to provide a platform where individuals can communicate effectively despite language differences. This involves debating and refining the specific features, testing them with user input, and collaborating with the engineering team to ensure a smooth release.

Level 2: Planning 🚂

As the product matures, a more senior product manager is needed to ensure alignment and challenge the product-market fit. Similarly, Byrdhouse aims to continually evolve by understanding the needs of its users. Senior PMs in the app's context would focus on creatively eliciting real customer needs and building a vision for the product. This requires emotional intelligence (EQ) to manage both customers and stakeholders effectively.

Level 3: Strategic Vision ✈️

Once product-market fit is established, it becomes crucial to plan for the future and set long-term goals. Byrdhouse looks beyond immediate needs and envisions a world where language is no longer a barrier to deep and lasting relationships. The strategic PM in this context would focus on paving the way towards this vision by exploring different pathways and mitigating risks. Stakeholder engagement and decision-making play a vital role in this stage.

Level 4: Strategic Partnering 🚀

As the organization grows, there is a need to strengthen the product's position and establish partnerships. Byrdhouse aims to reinforce its mission by partnering with key stakeholders, such as enterprise accounts, to expand its reach. A Chief Product Officer (CPO) plays a crucial role in this level, guiding the company's product strategy, building culture, and telling a compelling product story to secure funding and revenue.

Unique Insight: Language as a Barrier and Byrdhouse's Mission

Byrdhouse's mission is deeply rooted in Snow Huo's personal experience with language barriers. The app's goal is to provide accessibility to language, enabling individuals to understand and communicate with their loved ones without limitations. This aligns with the vision of breaking down language barriers and fostering deeper relationships.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Understand your future needs: Just as Byrdhouse envisioned the challenges and needs at different stages, businesses should assess their product needs in advance. This helps in finding the right resources without overspending and ensures a seamless transition as the company grows.
  • 2. Embrace AI for good: Byrdhouse leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate communication and bridge language gaps. Exploring AI solutions can be beneficial for businesses looking to overcome language barriers and enhance their products or services.
  • 3. Cultivate a strong product story: Byrdhouse's success is intertwined with its ability to tell a compelling product story. Businesses should prioritize building a narrative around their product, which resonates with stakeholders, customers, and investors. This storytelling aspect helps in securing funding, winning key accounts, and fostering a strong company culture.


Byrdhouse's journey to break down language barriers exemplifies the different levels of product needs outlined in Kwan's Hierarchy. From shipping features to strategic partnering, the app's vision aligns with the need for effective product management at each stage. Businesses can learn from Byrdhouse's approach by understanding their future needs, embracing AI solutions, and prioritizing a strong product story. Ultimately, breaking down language barriers opens a world of opportunities for deeper connections and understanding among individuals, regardless of their native language.

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