1 min read

Be a product engineer

Be a product engineer

I think the good path for a software engineer to become a solopreneur is to be a product engineer.

Back when I was starting, there is no clear definition of a product engineer.

But if you're one of the first engineering hires of a startup (founding engineers), chances are you're a product engineer.

A software engineer primary focus is on coding, system architecture, and technical problem-solving.

In early stage startups, they are usually full-stack engineers.

Product engineers have a broader role that includes:

Technical Proficiency:

They still possess deep technical skills and can code. This is the engineering part in the role.

Though their work might lean toward application development and less on infrastructure or architecture.

Product Vision and Design:

They often play a crucial role in product design, understanding the user needs, and translating those needs into technical specifications.

They think about the product as a whole, not just its technical components.

User Experience (UX):

Product engineers are deeply involved in the UX aspect, ensuring that the product is not only functional but also intuitive and enjoyable for the user.


They focus on solving user problems through technology.

This means not just fixing bugs or writing code, but thinking critically about what features to build or remove, and how to improve the overall product.

Unlike a software engineer, a product engineer usually work directly with the early customers to improve the product.

Cross-functional Leadership:

In early-stage startups, product engineers often work closely with the founding team to set the technical and product strategy.

They might also lead cross-functional teams, bridging the gap between technical and non-technical stakeholders.

These skills are super valuable for solopreneurship:

✅ Broader Skill Set
✅ Problem-Solving Mindset
✅ User-Centric Approach
✅ Cross-functional Experience

Now I must stress that a product engineer is not necessarily better at engineering than a software engineer.

Just with different focus and skillset.

So if you love solving technical problems and hate talking to customers, this might not for you.