Sir Francis Drake + Spectacles

Learning through shipping

With Snapchat recently announcing an incredible IPO. I’m sure there are executives across the globe ordering teams to be the next Snapchat, scoping product specifications with me-too features because that’s what people want.
Snap(chat), didn’t start like this. They started by shipping an incredibly simple photo messaging app which automatically “deleted” the message after a certain amount of time. From there, they have carefully learnt what people want, don’t want and most importantly why. This was only possible by consistently shipping.

Product features such as Stories and Lenses only made sense years later when Snapchat had learnt.

Snapchat’s Product Innovation Timeline See a trend? More features makes sense when there are more users.

So much pressure can be put on product teams — more features, more development, more decisions, more delays… But wait a minute! How do they know if anyone is actually going to use the product? And if the market really wants it?

Products are built to be used by the people who are actually in the market, not your colleague next to you or someone paid to test in an offsite location. Or as Grace Hopper summed it up perfectly: A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

Product team’s learn from shipping, no matter what. And that in turn helps ship more and better products. This is the modern competitive advantage of software businesses.

Yes — technically you could build Snapchat. But building a daily active user base like Snapchat? That’s a different kettle of fish. Instead, think about it like this: if you’re able to build any product you like, what do you build first/next and why?

PS — NEU is hiring shippers. Come and learn with us.