Why do startups build products when they need not?

[tweetherder]Why do startups build products?[/tweetherder]

I have an MBA degree. So yes, the 90% of you could stop reading here! Thanks!

In marketing, [tweetherder]a product is anything that can be offered to a market that might satisfy a want or need[/tweetherder]. That which can be sold multiple times while sustaining its ability to satisfy.

See, it’s not “[tweetherder]1000 lines of code[/tweetherder]”; it’s just that which can satisfy a want or need.

So is code the only way to build a product? No. It’s simply the tool you know to build a product. For those other startups that are run by business founders, the good news is your product is not that which gets hosted on AWS, its that which solves a problem for one and then for a few and finally for many, with non-linear incremental investment.

Agreed. Some products are inherently technical – Like a mobile wallet or a new web framework. But what about us – social network for hippies, marketplaces for small tasks etc?

For most of us, e[tweetherder]xcel sheets, a couple of online tools and a network of friends and extended circles are enough to test a concept and even reach the milestones for the first couple of years![/tweetherder]

When you solve a problem of 1, 10 or even 100 – You don’t need a software product. You need expertise and efficiency that comes from smart automation of few tasks.

Don’t believe yet?

Social network for hippies : Start a facebook group or even better, start a meetup (I tried it and fortunately did not build it into a company)

Marketplace for used goods : Facebook groups again (Check out “MooreMarket” in Facebook)

Local deals : Excel sheet, Phone calls, Mailchimp and a static website

So why do most startups think of product iterations as launching new features and writing more code or new code?

Pick your answer:

1. That’s the hammer I have. So every aspect of business I have to validate, I’d do by launching a feature, instead of calling a customer!

2.[tweetherder] It’s ego-boosting to be able to say that we are launching a new iteration[/tweetherder]

3. The accelerator and the entrepreneur turned blog peddlers told me that programming is the way!

We are guilty of at least one of these! So most startups that build products and eventually die, build them because it makes them feel nice about themselves, gives a faux sense of control and it’s fun. It would be nice statistic if someone could map how many startups debate between Rackspace and Amazon and finally hit the deadpool before that hosting problem ever presented itself!

So how to then test hypotheses and go through iterations: Before the internet, people spoke to customers. They ran surveys. They bought, re-purposed or contracted and sold things and figured it out along the way.

Have gone past that stage? Do you think your idea/product has takers and you’d like to get even more validation. Ready to code a version based on some proven hypotheses and productize your offering now? Are you ready to test specific user behaviors around your product?

May be now is the time for you to build a software prototype!

Head to minimumviableproduct.contractiq.com/global and you may find a smart way to build your prototypes. Have friends, peers from the local startup community that are looking to build prototypes? Tell them about ContractIQ and the “Minimum Viable Product” initiative!


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