- Walk The Lean Startup Talk:
Stopping at “minimum” in MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is hard. Entrepreneurs are passionate about their idea and have invested hundreds of hours on research, development and testing. We are often impatient, adrenaline junkies eager to grow our business. The Lean Startup method brings discipline to product development and prioritization is the linchpin. What is the least amount of time and money you can invest to prove customers want the product? Put aside the logo, the name and even the Web site because you won’t need any of it without paying customers. Only when a customer’s moves money from his/her bank account to yours is the test complete.
Instead of dreaming of a beautiful UI (ugh!), think, how bad can it suck? Here’s a sample of **one of** my UI’s — not exactly off the shelf code. And look, you’re the only ones seeing it because I’m not in business. Remember, in ecommerce, the Web site is the distribution channel, not the product itself. If you can’t get the site up quickly, find creative ways to test it with your target audience. You can probably test the concept with no technology at all. For instance, if you have a health product, hang out in a hospital emergency room where people wait hours to be called, at least you have a captive audience.
- Get Analytics Right:
Good analytics are like manna from heaven for tech startups. Armed with a 24 x 7 stream of data about explicit customer behavior, companies only need to keep up with the metrics to shape a business. Analytics enable companies to quickly determine product market fit, optimize marketing programs and improve conversion rates.
- But not all data is created equal measuring and using the right data is crucial with a small budget. Don’t assume off the shelf Google Analytics is measuring what you need. You’ll need to design a cross-functional, fully integrated system to measure the data that matters and most of the time it requires someone to write custom code. (See business less #2)
- Product is the New Marketing:
Don’t assume your idea is so unique and your product so fabulous that you’ll get the viral lift required for CCA<LTV. Today, unless the viral piece is elegantly designed into the product, you don’t have a business. Even if you stick to the build-measure-learn framework, buying customers and iterating “product” fast is just too expensive. And, little prompts like “share this” just aren’t going to cut it. Although PoopBuddy had a growing, highly engaged user base and ridiculously low churn (<2%), we never found the Dropbox effect. I truly believe we could have found the viral lift had I not blown my wad on the MVP. (Can I say that in a business blog? If you’re still reading, you’re a trooper and I hope you won’t mind.)