It’s Bad News if your product strategy is ‘To Exit’

Consumer internet products/companies that are built with the sole purpose of eventual ‘exits’ are most likely to fail.

On the other hand, products/companies built with focus on generating value for users are most likely to succeed(and make money eventually).

Focused on ‘Exit’

  • Me Too — Usually are in a business or domain where there have been a few exits(or funding rounds) and trying to ‘make hay when the sun is still shining’. Think Indian eCommerce & food ordering/delivery market.
  • Lack of vision — They don’t really have a well defined product vision or product strategy. In other words, the vision is to be sold & strategy is to do whatever you think is required to make that sell or fund raise.
  • Again, Me Too — Rolling out product features just because the market leader has done something similar. More often than not, these decisions are driven by Investors/management who like to micro-manage(read as interfere) instead of product experts/managers.
  • Moving targets — They have success metrics that keep changing often based on whom the company or product is being pitched to. So sometimes it’s user acquisition & sometimes revenues with little time/effort being spent on each resulting in failure to achieve anything significant. This also confuses & demotivates the team as no one likes to chases a moving target.

Focused on creating ‘value’ while solving a real world problem.

  • Create value — Are essentially addressing a problem in real world. It might not be a mainstream or a ‘sexy’ tech thing but it’s something that helps lots & lots of users.
  • Long way up — Understand that there are no short cuts to success or getting profitable or being valued as an unicorn. There will be ebbs & flows, bad weeks/months but the conviction drives them onward.
  • One thing — Do ONE thing extremely well. And they do(or strive to do) that ONE thing better than any other product in the world. This helps in concentrating the efforts of each team & individual and also motivates everyone towards ONE common goal.
  • Laser sharp focus — Success metrics are well defined, real, relevant and being focused on constantly. So short term hiccups or market trends do not deter the focus from the product vision.

At the end of the day, common sense & laws of economics usually catch up irrespective of market conditions. Chasing an exit may lead to a product that is ‘jack of all, master of none’, whereas a value driven approach will always hold you in good stead.