Most of the startups are destined to fail. In the aftermath of failure, founder emerge saying that they learnt a lot on how to run startups, the dos and donts. That’s an irrecoverable amount of time and resource spent to learn just a few things. Learning alone does not justify such grand waste of resources. The book “The Learn Statup” authored by Eric Ries states many measures to avoid such waste of time and effort. For a book that’s written in concise points followed by explaination it’s hard to summarize. Nonetheless, I am presenting you with some of the important takeaways from the book. Some of the important lessons might still be missing – reason why you should read the book.
1. Do not build products that nobody wants
A company built an add on that could bridge all social media platforms to attract customers to its own platform. The product would let you invite your facebook and twitter friends to one common platform. When it reached out to the customers it found out that no one wanted a product that could work on top of the existing social media product. Instead they could bear the hassles of one more social media. The company spent time and resouces (money and human) to built a product and numerous features into it that no one wanted. Compared to a century ago, we are far more capable of executing ideas and building things. A century ago people would ask, “Can we do this?” In modener economy anything imaginable can built given time and resource and thus the moder question should be “Should we build this product?”
2. Reach out to the customers early
As a perfectionist you want to deliver the best product to your customers but do they really want your product? The customers might require features that aren’t there and might shun the features that you thought they would instantly fall in love with. Build a MVP and reach out to the customer. You’re building a product based on the hypothesis that people want the product. This hypothesis should be put to brutal tests using the customer feedback.
3. The power of small batches and iteration
How do you think confectionaries generate profit selling Re 1 chocolates shipping them through rough geographies in humongous containers? Scale. A 5 paisa unit profit selling 1 billion units is 100 Million in profit. That’s the power of scale but there is power in small batches too. Imagine if the confectionary were to launch a new chocolate. It would manufacture chocolate in small batches, ask for customer reviews and iterate until the product is ready to be manufactured in large batches.
You’re subject to large number of varied tests everyday by the successful products that you use. That’s how the products became successful in the first place. You might have seen the option to opt-out of customer experience when installing different apps, that’s the way to test products. Facebook releases new features to small batch of users and gauges their reaction using actionable metrics. It then decides if the features should be taken forward to a large mass or if it should be aborted. Test in staggering numbers and test quickly.
5. Metrics of growth
A startup or company might measure its growth using a variety of metrics. Metrics might fool the company into believing that it is growing when it’s not. The number of daily tweets on Twitter isn’t as important as the amount of time an average user spends on Twitter. Choose your metrics to reflect the actual growth and underlying issues (if any).