Early stage product thinking

Many startups struggle with building their products in the early stage. Here’s a 101 strategy for early stage products to follow:

  • Have a problem you are trying to solve. Define and write it down.
  • Speak to customers who have that problem. Ask them how they are currently solving that problem.
  • Think of a hypothesis around solving the problem. The solution should be multiple times better than the current way users are solving their problem.
  • Build the solution which solves specifically that problem. Be disciplined about the things you include in your product. You have little resources and time. Build only what you think is fundamental to solve the problem.
  • Get this product in front of users. Users for whom this product should solve the problem.
  • Analyse Analyse Analyse. Measure everything. Find the set of users who find value in your product. Say the top 20% of your users.
  • Go and meet them. Yes meet them in person. Get out of your office.
  • Understand:

A) What do they like about your product? Why are they using your product?

This is what your power users think about your product.

Observe the adjectives they use to describe your product. This is what you should use to market your product to attract more users “like” your power users. Easy peasy.

B) What do they do before using your product? What is the user journey inside your product? What do they do post using your product?

This tells you their entire life cycle. Your job is to make the user journey inside your product world class. This is the journey your power users are taking. They have found an “aha” moment in your product. Make that funnel simpler and faster. Now market your product with points you learned in A) and guide those users through the product journey taken by power users such that they too reach the “aha” moment asap. This becomes your growth engine. Run and monitor this nonstop like a german factory.

After your done, slowly expand your product scope to either what the user does before he uses your product or after. Great products expand their presence organically by understanding user journeys holistically. Do not bind yourself to simply what users do within your app.

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