An idea can come most unexpectedly. You might be working on your office project, sipping a cup of coffee with colleagues, or analyzing the results of an existing product. Or maybe, you’re stuck with a problem, trying to find a solution, and suddenly — enlightenment.
Not all entrepreneurs work on their ideas, leaving many of the greatest to never see the light of day. For many, low funds, no resources, zero guidance, or even the lack of that one last push hold them back from seeing their ideas through.
And even for the ideas that are acted upon, failure comes knocking on the doors of the unprepared, who end up investing their time, efforts, and money in the wrong direction.
Transforming your product idea into a digital reality isn’t easy. And that’s where this guide comes in handy. We’ll give you a brief framework of how to do so, from the idea phase to research, development, and delivery to build a successful product.
How to Build a Successful Startup Product
- Find your product differentiators
- Nail it to scale it
- Start small with an MVP
- Work smarter with a development partner
Find Your Product Differentiators
It might seem like the majority of the ideas are already taken and there’s a product for everything. But that’s not the case. Let’s revisit the story of Instagram and how their founders identified their product differentiators.
Instagram’s founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger started with an app called Burbn, a check-in app like FourSquare. However, they soon realized that rather than checking in, users were actually sharing their pictures with friends.
Instagram recognized this differentiator, and they shifted their focus to the brilliant idea of a photo-sharing app with unique filters.
The story of Instagram teaches us to cut what’s not important and focus on the product differentiators.
At the time, the social media ecosystem was already dominated by Facebook, where people could connect with others and share their pictures, videos, and thoughts.
Despite their competitor’s success, the Instagram founders didn’t shy away from launching their app, because they knew their unique filters set it apart. The result? They ended up with one of the most successful social media platforms of all time.
So, even if your idea is similar to existing products, if your differentiators are strong, you can still succeed and grow a loyal customer base.
Nail It to Scale It
While most startups believe that starting small with an MVP is the way to go, there are some who also choose the Exceptional Viable Product (EVP) model to launch.
With an EVP, you start by launching best version of your product, but smaller — like a cupcake. With all the features available and the product polished to perfection, the chances of converting your early adopters are high.
To learn more about how EVPs can be successful, let’s explore the story of UXPin, a wireframing and prototyping company. UXPin started by prototyping notepads for designers, and they only launched it after multiple iterations.
This approach helped them deliver a high-quality product in the very first launch, while minimizing the resources used.
While they can have benefits for many companies, starting with an EVP isn’t the only way to succeed — most do just fine starting with an MVP.
Start Small With An MVP
While EVPs are great if your idea is extremely unique and has very little competition, most startups have to launch their product quickly, before the idea becomes obsolete or is taken by a competitor.
This is where the MVP approach comes in handy, which allows you to get assurance for your product idea and iterate as you collect customer feedback. If the MVP performs, you can be sure to go ahead; if it doesn’t, you can always pivot and correct the structural course of action.
Companies like Spotify, Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, and even Twitter, all rose from an MVP to become startup unicorns. Their founders wanted their product idea to get out there quickly without exploiting all their funds.
Take Uber’s story, for example. A simple cab-hailing app was launched in 2010 with just three cars in its first prototype. It enabled riders to book a cab, track movement, and make payment with their cards. It didn’t wait too long to launch the polished product. They started quickly with a raw version and kept iterating and polishing features as they collected feedback from users.
Companies that start with an MVP are able to test market demands, please their early product users, mitigate risks, and define a monetization strategy with customer behavior in mind.
Work Smarter With A Development Partner
We’ve all heard the saying: work smarter, not harder. It’s understandable if you think of your startup idea as your baby, and that you want to work hard to develop and nurture it on your own.
But it’s very likely you’ll need to work smart, too.
Maybe that means briefly educating yourself on the 5 steps of the development process.
The five steps of the development process are:
- Market research and analysis
- Wireframing and prototyping
- Technology selection
- Delivery and promotion
- Product development
However, even with a good understanding of the development process, if you’ve never done this type of project before, it’s probably best to find a development partner who can help lead you to success.
This development partner should be someone with years of experience to develop your product.
Not every startup survives the tough competition, and if you want to survive and grow, you need a strategic partner.
Choosing a development partner should be done after a careful, in-depth assessment. Here are things to keep in mind:
One Plan To Achieve One Goal
There can be a lot of confusion when you join hands with a development partner. There should always be one clear plan, which both you and your development partner follow to achieve one goal.
Define the project in a document you can consistently reference to avoid any misalignment later. As an entrepreneur, you need to prepare a business plan to onboard your development partner.
Be Clear And Elaborate
Being clear and elaborate is the most crucial aspect of growing with a development partner. There can be many misconceptions when working with a development partner.
For both of you to be on the same page, it’s important to overcommunicate your ideas and your requirement. Also, set clear acceptance criteria and success metrics for any work.
Smart work requires smart workers. It’s important you hire smart for your startup product. You need experienced, intelligent, and creative people who can align with your product idea.
You can turn to business listing sites or B2B review platforms to find a partner for outsourcing software development.
Choose The Right Strategy
Your product might be too complex to be developed by a single developer, or it might require a fully managed team for ideation to delivery. Some hire teams for development, others join hands with a development agency to take care of their product.
You need to analyze your product requirements and choose the right strategy for your partnership.
Following these steps, and keeping the development process in mind, you and your development partner will be ready to bring your idea to life.
Keep This Framework in Mind for Startup Product Success
For any startup to succeed with its product idea, it’s important to follow a framework. This framework covers everything from finding your product’s main features during the market search, to the nitty-gritty of the development process.
As an entrepreneur, you can confidently move ahead with your ideas and turn them into successful products.