Starting a Business With An Invention
Smart Product Development
Written by James Garvin for Gaebler Ventures
Developing a new product as a first-time entrepreneur is a rush like no other. However, entrepreneurs can often get tangled up in the product features and the "what if" of their product. This causes their relatively easy and simple product to blow into an inflated monster that gets delayed. These smart product development tips can help you avoid the pitfalls.
Smart product development ensures that you stick to the core features of your product and only the core features of the product.
Why shouldn't you go out and develop all the bells and whistles on your first product version? Because odds are that when you release that product with all of the bells and whistles, they will be the wrong bells and whistles that your customers want.
Entrepreneurs have limited time, and the time they do spend acquiring customer requirements to build a working prototype is time very well spent, but most do not have the time nor money to build the "perfect" working model.
By building simpler prototypes you have the ability to give a product to your customers to try and garner feedback on the actual use of a product, not on hypothetical situations. Sure, many customers may want more features added onto it, but the goal is to get your target customers say that the working prototype does help them and that they can use it. Once you have the core basic product down, you can work on developing the next versions.
Using Apple as an example, can you remember what their first iPod looked like? It was big and clunky, but it still swept through Main Street like nothing before. Apple was able to get enough early adopters buying the iPod to make even the first version a huge success, but after many more years of tinkering and tweaking, the newer iPods are much smaller, more user friendly and appeal to a larger customer base. Apple, could have spent another 2-3 years on continuing to fine tune the iPod to make the "perfect" model, but they would have missed out on all of the success that they had with their first version and run the risk of a competitor storming the market with their own product. Ultimately it was the consumer feedback of customers who bought the early versions that helped Apple design and create the more successful versions.
The goal of the first version of the product is to have the minimum feature set that appeal to enough early adopters that will pay for your product. That in itself is a successful start. As you take your idea to building out the product requirements, it can be easy to take a simple idea and inflate it by throwing additional features at it. Once you realize that your once simple product design and feature set has now become more complex then you could have imagined, it's time to go back to the drawing board to cross out the feature sets that are not core to your product.
Part of the fun of entrepreneurship is the experimenting and tinkering with new ideas. However, struggling with your first version product requirements shouldn't be one of them. The fun begins when you start seeing customers use your product or service. The quicker you can get your first version out, the quicker you get your product in the hands of customers. That's when the real fun begins and when you can begin to experiment with other product features that will help bring more customers to your company.
James Garvin began his education studying biotechnology. In recent years he has turned his interest in technology to helping two internet startup companies. The first business was an online personal financial network and the second was an e-marketing platform created to help entrepreneurs demo their web sites. Currently a student at University of California Davis, James is spending his summer incubating two new online businesses and writing about his entrepreneur experiences.
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