Best Startup Advice: Build Fast and Iterate
As a 20-year old founder with no experience running a startup, I was looking for guidance. I wanted to learn how to build a great product to improve the lives of others.
So I asked around my network of experienced entrepreneurs well into their 30s and 40s. My probing question was:
How do I build a valuable product??!!
I got some decent responses, but more of them fell into the category of:
- “Take a look at the market and see what’s trending.”
- “Go ask people what they want.”
- “Just build something with a great design and hope someone uses it.”
And as a founder starting off, I didn’t find these answers helpful.
In an ecosystem where hard work doesn’t guarantee success, there has to be a better way to “create something valuable.”
But as I’ve gotten startup advice from founders, read founding stories of some startups, I’ve come to a conclusion and a pattern that I would advise as my best possible startup [product] advice.
Build Fast and Iterate
Many entrepreneurs and developers have this disruptive idea and they lock themselves in the room for 4–6 months, only to build a product that no one really cares about.
That’s the pattern I’ve seen so often, to a point I ask myself if people are even thinking things through.
The pursue of pixel perfection design, the coolest features, the exhaustive business plan and marketing strategies, are all the things that rather pull us down and add our product to the pile of failed products.
Startups can’t strive to spend 6 months to build a polished fully working product in the beginning— that’s not how startups work.
Striving for perfection rather hinders your speed from testing and collecting valuable data. The best advice I tell people when they’re building something is to build a working prototype of your idea, fast, and let others use it.
Let other people test it, give you feedback, and use that feedback to iterate and incrementally develop a better product.
While startups or programmers locked themselves in the room for 6 months to build something so cool and useful that people may not want to use, I was able to build a working prototype, allowed others to use it, collection feedback, iterate and get results, in less than 2 weeks.
Difference? I have feedback and users and the others have their product still in development.
I collected feedback from over 50 people and analyzed what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what they wanted from this. As a result, I constantly had 25–30 users using my site every day for the last 2 weeks.
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Recently, my bounce rate increased and session time decreased, but instead of seeing it as failure, it’s a calling for improvement. Maybe something isn’t working as expected and it requires a change.
But this gives me a chance to iterate, test things, and figure out how I can get the message across and that’s the power of building fast and iterating.
This is how you create a valuable product. When YOU ARE THE USER, you can truly understand what others want and build something accordingly.
Not by locking yourself with a computer for 6 months—but only by talking to people, getting their feedback, and iterating on your product can you build something truly valuable.
There are millions of entrepreneurs who are all competing to be the next Facebook and Airbnb, but they fail to realize that even big companies took small steps to success.
Zuck didn’t spend 6 months on developing the first version of Facebook. Airbnb’s first prototype wasn’t that impressive to be honest.
But guess what? They built something fast, listened to customers, and iterated!
Instead of spending months to create a polished product, allow your audience to be part of your product development cycle and polish it themselves.