There are times where I beat my head against the wall with Start-Ups
I always enjoy helping start-ups. I love helping steer them towards success. I appreciate their intelligence and entrepreneurship.
But, sometimes, I just want to strangle them.
Every start-up I’ve ever worked with/for has always asked me to “check out the product, tell us what you think”, or, “Hey, we’ll pay you if you will test out our UI/UX and tell us what you think needs to be changed/corrected for a better user experience”.
Yeaaa, right. Every time I hear it, I jump at the chance to help, and every time, I get ignored. And every time, a few months later (after GA), I hear “We should have done what you suggested, it would have removed the pain that we are in now”.
As a marketer, I understand — we are always the first ones that get our budget cut (even though, if you have read my previous posts, this is the last thing you want to do in any size organization), we are “out of touch” with the user — the developers and UI experts know better, or, the most common — “we have to work on the back-end before we can correct the front-end”.
Guess what? They never get to correcting the front-end. They launch the product and a user can’t use the product because they have no clue what to do, what to click on, what to enter, etc.
I have a saying to the companies that I work with that causes them a lot of angst:
“How does what you are doing or want to do pertain to the CORE of the product?”
I used to be a product manager years ago for a Japanese firm, called Olympus (yes, you know them for their camera’s (or maybe medical products)). Working with their engineers (this was hardware, not software like I work with today), I would always bring up things that marketing research would want in the product. For example, we were having a meeting of all the team leaders (including outside agencies), and the PR Agency asked “It would be awesome if we could include a camera case with the camera”.
All the American’s in the room discussed it, from the COG (Cost Of Goods) to how marketing could position it as different from the competitor, etc. After 15 minutes, the Japanese lead engineer held up his hand and asked:
“We do not know if this product will be successful or not. Let’s discuss changing the COG or the product until after the CORE product is released and the market shows us if the camera is viable or not.”
From then on I have used this lesson in every company I have worked with.
“Is this relevant to the CORE?”
I am currently working with a company where I use this on a daily basis as the entrepreneurial leadership continuously adds things to their product, from changing the color scheme to detailed results of actions that a user takes (that does not pertain to the ultimate success of the product or not).
And every day, I hit them over the head with “Is this a CORE need to get the product to GA?”
Of course, 90% of the time, I hear “No, we will put on the side and get to it later.”
We all want the product to be super duper 100% complete right out of the box! Unfortunately in today’s world, it doesn’t work like that. You have to get the product out there at 60%-80% complete and see the viability immediately.
Think about that — if you started using Facebook when it first came out compared to what it is today, it has changed dramatically — but, the CORE of the product (posting) has not. If the CORE breaks, the product breaks.
As someone who wants all start-ups to succeed, keep this in mind with everything you do until your product launches — is what you want to add/change to the product a part of the CORE? Or is it an add-on or a “nice to have”?
If it’s not CORE, then, don’t do it until after GA.
If you do this, your consultants will stop beating their heads against the wall and you will have a product in market way sooner than you think.