Your Product Playbook is Wrong

Meet John. John is building a new start up. He won’t quit talking about it. It’s a machine learning based app, for helping you find the optimal time to take your dog out (it will log when you currently take your dog out and then predict the future times you will need to take them out). John’s product isn’t finished yet, but it’s getting there.

Just a few more sprints he says. Since he’s lean, he’s only building what he needs for his MVP (minimal viable product). After he launches he tells us he plans on A/B testing his landing page and that he wants to figure out the optimal shade of blue for his sign up button. Soon he’ll be a stock-option billionaire he assures us.

This is the common, predictable joue-du-jour: pre-sell your smallest idea, build it as quickly and as cheaply as possible, launch, then A/B test your way to profit.

I don’t think this is the right play.

You have an inkling of an idea and in order to save yourself wasted effort, you begin to find customers you can sell to. Find ten who will commit and you can start laying down code.

You find a few customers quickly and they seem excited about the idea and would totally buy it if it could also send email.

Wanting to make the sale, you cave. It’s OK you tell yourself. This feature will just add a day or two to development. And this feature will make the next sale easier.

Before long your product doesn’t resemble your original idea. If you really strain your eyes, you can see your product idea. But each feature concession you made to get each pre-sale has removed the vision bit by bit.

It your product is perfect for everyone it’s made for no one.

Homer designed a car “perfect” for everyone and bankrupted the company

Others are able to resist the temptation to bolt on a feature for a sale, because they’re building a quick MVP with all of the features they think they’ll need on launch day.

The feature list for an initial version is very impressive. But you can clearly see where the design team changed midway through: half of the app looks like it came from Bootstrap and the other half looks like Windows.

MVP has been interpreted incorrectly. It should be a slice up the value chain. It should be 2 features done amazingly. Not 20 features done half-baked.

Great product development doesn’t happen when your focus is split in many different directions: focus like a laser on your core idea and polish.

If you successfully manage get your product out the door and gain a few customers, then you can A/B test and iterate to success!

While A/B testing is valuable and can produce a lot of revenue, it creates a culture that doesn’t value the slow thinking and intuition required to build great products.

Our most cherished possessions in life are the ones that are made to last. That pair of artisan boots brings joy day after day. Those crocs you bought drunk on Amazon only fill you with regret.

Your product should aim to bring lasting joy, not the emptiness of a one-night stand.

Our playbook with Kwoosh is the opposite of the popular playbook. We’re polishing a few features to help you make better software for launch. We’re not doing any pre-sales, though you’re welcome to join our mailing list or follow us on twitter @kwoosh.

What are you working on? We love hearing from fellow product people.