“I am just too excited. This coming week I’m going to hit the road with my new idea,” said an overly enthusiastic, would-be entrepreneur whom I met last week at Start-up Saturday. I have been a speaker, a silent listener, and a start-up encourager at this event for the past few years. It’s all about supporting and educating would-be start-ups with inspiration and daring them to get their ideas on the market. Thus, I hear top-notch start-up ideas every now and then. So, while talking to this guy, I was like, “Damn! Survival is going to be tough for him.”
What was his idea? What made me pray for him? Was the idea so stupid?
This guy was a little different. To him, entrepreneurship is almost a pool to rake in money, in which he just wants to jump and swim as fast as possible.
He wanted to be in the market with his on demand service but was unaware of the stiff competition. And he had no strategy on how to market his idea, he was not even aware of the development process he needed or which platform would help to drive more customers!
He has guts, doesn't he?
If you are seriously taking up an idea, you need to think from the scratch. Since I’ve worked with a number of clients and helped them get their product on board, I would like to share what works the best when someone is all set to launch their start-up.
Enter the Lean Product Development Strategy
Don’t worry about the fancy name.
Starting off a new business with fully chalked out strategic plans is something difficult. But to bridge the gap you need to arm yourself with a Lean Product Development Strategy.
Is that sounding alien to you? Well, ‘Lean development’ is about understanding, building, and launching your idea quickly and at the lowest possible cost! Wait.. lowest doesn’t refer to ‘low-cost development’ but ‘cost effective development’! While the strategy is all about focusing on getting your product on board quickly, being Lean also delivers top notch performance optimization. If you are an entrepreneur, you might face some challenges no matter what. And the very first difficulty is you don’t know what ‘not’ to do! But guess what, the Lean strategy is all designed to help you understand what to do. So without wasting any more time, let’s move on to what Lean is all about and how it is going to help you to create a better product.
1. Understand Your Business Objective and Outline an Idea: The Ideation Stage
So, you’ve got this new idea, which you think is one in a million. For starters, there are millions of apps on the Google Play Store and iTunes. And the staggering fact is that 99% of apps are downloaded for less than 1000 times, but only get launched by users once in a blue moon. Why did it happen? Duh! Maybe the ‘idea’ failed to answer the Why, How and What of the business needs the product was looking to address. Putting it another way, these less downloaded, abandoned apps ‘solve nothing’ and never will! So what's the point of polishing your app features or improving the app icon when it’s going to end up in the trash? This is a mistake that most entrepreneurs make. They rush their idea to market, failing to realize the effectiveness of what they are building.
Let’s be honest. There are a few entrepreneurs who've made it big with an outstanding app idea. And they were able to identify the market opportunity. They took the requisite time to get their vision straight and strategized (the How) in order to so. So, it’s crucial that you sit with your idea to identify what awaits you in the market. And have a growth plan chalked out. What we believe in doing is: A. Outline your business objectives; B. Try to understand your business goals; C. Study the digital paths you want to take; D. Conceive the hypothesis that your proposed idea has takers in the market
In short, you might discuss your idea, relate it with a problem and analyze if it solves the problem. During this, I perceive the idea and define it with my business expertise.
2. Is Your Idea Solving A User’s Problem?: The Valuation Stage
You had an idea to launch a new ride app like Uber in the market. Fair enough. What now? Have you researched consumer behavior to know if the market segment you chose is not saturated with ride apps? Are they more interested in having a home service fulfilled than having another ride app? As soon as you come to us with an idea, we brainstorm to find how it is related to your existing business, the service you provide, and the industry sectors in which you operate. And the most important step is to identify your client’s behavior to understand what they value. But why is assessing the value important? Relate this to the question I asked first - are you creating ‘value’ with your app idea? You don’t want your investments to go wrong, right? And that’s where Lean product development comes into play. The main purpose of Lean development is to create an operational flow and eliminate waste. To create a viable offer, partner a relationship and deliver your service, I try to: A. Understand the usefulness of your idea and if it solves a user problem; B. Assess your idea based on the audience's behavior and what they need.
Basically, it’s all about finding how your proposed client(s) can gain an advantage vis your service. With this, you can reduce risks and be more precise.
3. Is Your Idea Going Through the 4 Stage Development Process?
Lean or Agile - the strategy assumes that your idea needs to be furnished and refactoring. And that’s a reason why long term development is not followed here. So, your time is saved. There’s a famous 4 stage development process and each wave of development is justified separately. Let’s look these stages closely:
A. Physical Conceptualization Through Screens and Demos
It’s important that your idea becomes tangible or usable in a way in order to help create a blueprint of your product structure. Finding similar apps in the market is a great way to start. What I prefer is brainstorming popular products similar to your idea and checking them out. Creating a DEMO is a major part of the plan.
B. Actual Wireframing of Your Product
In this stage, developers sit together to create first sketches of your product. If you’re about to develop a website, you need experts to start putting details in the wireframe. These wireframes are meant to iterate and bring revised versions.
C. Designing the Product
Next up, designing the idea that you’re absolutely psyched about. Finding the sweet spot between too bright and too dark won’t be easy. And that’s why we believe in pulling experts with creative gut instincts to create some unique details in your product.
D. The Final Stage: Development
After your designs are ready, milestones are set with the developers assigned to the task. There must be a stipulated time frame for each milestone completion. Whichever technique is required to maintain the quality of the end product is deployed.
4. Make Minimum Viable Product Your Best Buddy!
What is the difference between the startupreneurs who launched their idea successfully in the market versus those who just dream of doing so?
Three Words: Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
First things first. Eric Ries, the man who introduced the concept of MVP, describes it as the ‘version of your idea which helps you collect maximum validated information about your audience with the least effort.’ When you race to deliver the best value to your customer, you must know the MVP concept to build, measure, and learn. This way, you end up wasting as little time and energy as possible and hence save your pennies (you want this, right?).
Enough of this, tell me how to do it! Okay, so, roll out any one of the important features of your app idea in the market to do the A/B testing. Collect feedback from the test and share it with your development team. Do the required tweaks and voila! You are set to go for the grand launch!
5. How Do You Gauge Your Product’s Performance? Analytics My Dear Folks!
Take your website development for example - stages 1 to 4 are done. You’ve got your MVP, launched it, and gotten a feedback. Now, what will you do with that data? The measure of success for your product is just not dependent on the traffic it received or the number of downloads. Whether your idea turned into a reality is about what your target was and if you met it or not. The metrics you find from the analytics will be different if you target general public and your business clients. So an A/B testing is a must which will provide you with actual insights. And that testing also helps find out if a user is committed to your product or not.
Put simply, the Lean product development strategy seems exciting as you need to act small, iterate, learn and develop rapidly. You have more chances of being in a win-win situation with the Lean development strategy.