Excerpt from a talk I gave at the UT Dallas Women’s Venture Summit on Oct 23, 2019 and also posted on LinkedIn.
In my work working with our clients or as a Mentor in different mentoring groups and Advisor to startups, I find a lot of founders, CEOs, CTOs, and boards obsess about building a product and the process of software development.
Building a product, especially a software product, is admittedly hard and needs a level of detail that is daunting for any team. Sharing your vision and breaking it down into stories and acceptance criteria can be back-breaking, spirit-sapping work especially for those of us that have big dreams and can’t wait to see their vision realized. The real world is a hard place in which to try and bring those dreams to fruition.
Too often these teams struggle and iterate on their product and process to build their product until… viola one day they do have a product. Based on all the writing and advice out their the more successful of them also worked hard on raising funds, and somehow they do that successfully as well. The even more successful ones go out and crack the code on finding their first paying customers, and the ever-elusive product-market fit.
But is building a product enough to build a successful company?
The Product’s Journey
Idea -> MVP -> Beta -> Launch -> Expansion
Your Customer’s Journey
Discovery -> Onboarding -> Habit Building -> Mastery
Your Startup’s Journey
First, stop calling it a startup. “Startup” is a stage. You are working to start a company, not a startup, so with that:
Your Company’s Journey
Find a Pain or Problem Area you are qualified or interested enough in
Figure out what your Product is, start trying to build it
Find People to help you along the way
Find Customers, market to them, sell to them
Figure out how to keep customers happy and that relationship healthy
- What happens after the sale? How will you service the customer?
- Who will pick up the phone when it rings?
Know your data
- Know your numbers,
Understand that scaling is not just about server speed, it is about everything else a company needs to do – process=scaling
Find specialists – respect every function not just the developers