My first-time startup lessons-learned
Last August, our Inspitrip founding team went to Sydney to attend the H2X from a startup accelerator, H2 Ventures. I’m writing this article to recap some of my takeaway lessons along with the experience of running businesses in recent years.
Before starting to build our product, asking ourselves:
“What is the problem we’re solving? How many users are you talking to about it?”
As many tech geeks I have met, they tend to think of solutions before actually looking into the problem closely. They can build a fancy website or a cool app but they can’t answer what problem the website or app is solving.
At the beginning of starting a new business, let talk to the people who we’re helping to solve their problems instead of sitting down to build our first product version. Talk to many of them to learn about their problem. Then, we’ll have meaningful insights which help us to think of some possible ideas. By looking closely into the insights, we identify the actual problems which the user have before coming up with a possible solution. Then, we do the build-measure-learn feedback loop one by one with the people who we have talked with.
Although, we have launched Inspitrip and apply many updates on it. But we have to do the process day by day. We look into the data, think of the actual problems, come up with possible solutions and then test it out. And we do it again and again.
We cannot say that what we are going to be, an Uber for traveling or an AirBnb of something or an ecommerce site in the end. But we can say what problem we are trying to solve at the moment and we keep doing the customer discovery to extend our product to make it better.
Simple good-enough MVP
A MVP — minimal viable product is a thing we build to demonstrate our solution. It needs to be minimal but viable. That means it is not only simple and easy to build to launch constantly to the user but it is also a completed product.
The customers won’t be happy if they use our product which is not completed or buggy. Also, some features don’t work like what we promised in our strong sale pitch on the landing pages. It makes the bad customer experience when they use our product or service. So, we minimize the features but making them perfect.
In our actual experience at Inspitrip, we think of a new solution by:
“Is there any online service which the marketing team can build it instead of tech team to build it from scratch?”
Then, we test it out as soon as we done it. We’re usually done it within a day.
Hustle it before we hack it
By making interviews with customers, we understand their context and do some more studies to come up with the meaningful solutions. Then, we build landing pages before coding a complex system. Let people come to our website to understand our product or service even if we haven’t done building our prototype. We show people about us and our solutions before they are actually using our product or service. In the other hand, we can find time to build a good system in term of technology.
Creating a mailing list of people who are actually interested in our product or service is super useful. The list is not only about customers, but also about editors and investors. So we can send weekly updates about us to keep their engagement.
Getting those first users and customers takes hustle, not hacking. You need to get out into the world and connect with the people who will help you learn whether you’ve built a product they want, and help you hone in on the right features and functionality. — Hustle before you hack
Finally, people have talked a lot about those stories: validating problem, build-measure-learn feedback loop, prototyping and lean startup... They are not new. It all depends on the founders who understand customer insights and make decisions. Also, they will actually work when we fully understand our case and apply them flexibly in a right time and a right way.
- Product Marketing Fit by Stanford http://web.stanford.edu/class/ee204/ProductMarketFit.html
- Aardvark case study (problem-solution fit ) https://hbr.org/product/Aardvark/an/811064-PDF-ENG
- Making sense of MVP — http://blog.crisp.se/2016/01/25/henrikkniberg/making-sense-of-mvp
- Startup Advices by YC — https://blog.ycombinator.com/ycs-essential-startup-advice/