Monday, July 29, 2013

Look beyond technology when starting a Product Business

If you have been following your friends who are starting off closely with a new technology business idea - you would have probably found the following scenario:

Very often, one finds engineer entrepreneur who comes up with an interesting insight from technology and attempt venturing out on his/her entrepreneurial journey. Invariably, one finds that most of these  entrepreneurs focus on developing their products for a very long time, so much so that, they do not know who their market is! They wouldn't have even spoken with a single customer! They face a constant internal resistance and find it hard to get off their office where they are comfortable with their technical expertise and step into selling the product they are building!

In making these statements I do not intend to say that entrepreneurs who are technologist cannot build a business - it is an attempt to get them to move out of their offices into the shoes of a businessman.

As some one who has started a business, begin with the following understanding:
  1. Technology is not Business - Technology is generally a component of business that helps in delivery. 
  2. Get out and Sell - It is important to sell the product that you are building, if you don't sell the product there is no commercial use of product you might build.
  3. Engage with your customers early - Do not wait for the complete product that you think has a market. Go in with simple to use features and see how the market reacts and listen to what it wants.The following suggestions could help you to start on this:
  • List product features into a priority (your thought) and freeze in on the first 2-3 features in this list
  • Make a list of customer (prospective) that you think could benefit from these features
  • Quickly build this feature set (do-not change as of now)
  • Approach a Customer and ask him to try out as a commercially free product but give you feedback
  • Listen to the feedback - improve your product with the feedback
Clearly, listening to the market early is important to ensure that your product is market accepted and it is important to do it early than late in the process of building your business. Get out of your comfort zone - businesses really need to be as close to their customer and not in the high rise offices...

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