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Stop coding, start developing your product

by Matthew Adams

Technologists often get hung up on technology and forget about the customer (and the business!) We talk about a real-world example and some practical advice for getting your idea business-focused.

In the early days of a start up, the organizational structure is defined rather loosely, and typically by function. The technical founder has her domain, the sales & marketing founder his, and they work closely together to achieve their initial goals. As an organization grows, it is not possible to maintain that level of detailed personal control. How does a growing business structure itself for innovation? Or a larger organization pivot and allow an innovation culture to develop?

We’ve put our MVP out into the market, and we can start refining the information we have about our product, its fit to the market, and the real drivers and buying behaviours of our clients. How do we iteratively improve the offering, and deliver more value?

In this article, we look at how we’re going to tidy up our assumptions list, conduct some more low-cost experiments to satisfy ourselves we know exactly what we’re getting into, then take the leap and build something that satisfies some core part of the value proposition, and persuade some customers to buy it.

Business model design is all about sharing the value from the product. How do we ensure all the stakeholders get what they need out of it?

Although you do not want to lose focus on the beachhead market, it is always good to consider the TAM for follow-on markets. If we do this thing, where might we take it next?

Ultimately (however long you can put it off for by taking investment), you don’t have a business if people aren’t paying you more money than it costs to develop, acquire the customer, deliver it to them, and support them for their whole lifetime with the product. We look at how you can get to paying customers.

What does “competitive positioning” actually mean? Are your competitors all solving the same problems as you, or are they the people competing for the same kind of attention, or pool of resources? We take a look at the challenges of “competition”.

Having got a very rough sketch of our product and its fit to the beachhead market, we now want to focus right in on that market, and better understand the size of the market, the customers, and our proposition to them. In this article we are going to explore techniques we can use to define our value proposition for the beachhead market.

The article is all about the very start of new product development: determining whether there is a market, and how the offering will fit that market’s needs. We’re trying to get a very quick, but comprehensive sketch of the whole product, and the market it is intended to address.

This is the start of a series on bootstrapping your new product development. We explore principles and tools that can be used in any environment, through the whole product lifecycle from inception to end-of-life.