Last time, we talked a bit about what we do for entrepreneurs that come to us with an idea for a consumer web or mobile start-up. Today, we’ll quickly go through the process we use to get to BETA.
First, it’s important to remember that there are usually two challenges that most startups face when they start building their BETA.
Having blurred product vision is pretty common. This comes in many shapes and forms. For instance, we often see a fairly decent vision, but a long list of features. Parts of the product may have been worked out, but other key parts, such as the user experience is full of holes. This is OK. It is often the reason why entrepreneurs come to us in the first place.
Having limited capital is a given. Sometimes though, there are also limited resources available as an entrepreneur may not have the time available to put 100% into the startup and often is not familiar with the large work load that comes with starting something from ground up. This is where our process comes in handy.
The basic steps are:
This is the quick and dirty work flow. In some cases, we have to work hard on concept development while other times it's more a matter of focusing on key user experience challenges. There are two rules we always follow:
Keep it simple and focus on the one thing you have to get right for users
Get your BETA up fast!
Once the BETA is up, we start working on the Product / Market fit, which is really just all about user feedback loops and product iterations. In our experience, this is really the hard part, but it's also the fun part. There's nothing as exciting as getting real people to give you feedback on your invention!
Next time, we’ll look at what kind of documentation we are looking for when we start working with you (hint: it’s not your business plan).
When we wake up every morning, we drink coffee… and then we get on with it. We develop products - web products mostly. We love this! In fact, we've found this type of work so challenging and rewarding that we created a Product Development Group within Fabric Interactive. Next to our Social Media Marketing Group, it is our main focus area at Fabric.
For the past two years, entrepreneurs, media, agencies, and brands have come to us with napkin ideas, business plans, or complete Product Development Plans for various consumer products or applications. In some cases, we've found that the expectations for what is possible and realistic outpace the budget and experience of the team we're working with. This means that our first job is to close this gap, provide leadership, and to focus the product development process.
I know many of you are thinking about developing your own web product or already have plans for launching a new business or product line based off an application or website. To help you, I want share our experiences with you. From our experience shelf, here are some of the challenges you're likely to encounter as you blaze down the path of product development:
Initial Product (Version 1.0) does not meet audience needs
Relax. It is highly unlikely that your product will connect with your audience right out of the gate. In fact, it may take 12-months to get the traction needed to meet user acquisition requirements needed for your next investor round. The cost of Product Development over 12 months may be significant and most certainly will match your initial investment.
Product does not deliver clear differential value for core audience
Right. Most web products – advertising or subscriber supported – are unable to fix this problem. In our experience, this comes down to a lack of focus. To win today, you need to focus on one specific audience and one particular unmet need. If you try to do too much for too many audiences, you will likely fail. This is universally true for ventures with limited funding. Again and again, we see small fish trying to compete with big well-funded players without laser focus on brand or audience. You must narrow focus. Then, you can execute brilliantly.
Attracting users to a new brand/product
Starting from zero can be very hard and quite costly. For instance, organic growth (from Google natural search index) will be very slow for 12 months for a new domain in a competitive area. Many co-marketing or traffic partners won’t partner until you have traffic and a tested product – so it can be a chicken and egg problem. For many, the only way to gain traction is to buy traffic in the beginning.
For some new ventures, it may be worth acquiring a blog or two (many are for sale) and grow your product from the established acquired audience. Part of your traffic – and product strategy – may be to build a network of sites all with a slightly different value proposition for your audience(s).
Getting people to use your product
Beyond getting users to your site, the main challenge is to get them to use it. For example, acquiring your first 5,000 users can be a major challenge. For instance, gaining momentum is a major issue for most social networking sites and absolutely critical to all reputation based products. There are no short-cuts really. It’s just hard work.
Unknown Brand and User Generated Content model
It can be difficult and costly to build a new brand where User Generated Content (UGC) is part of the model. Beyond the importance of appearance (design) the main challenge is in the actual UGC itself. It is hard to get people to do stuff. Also, from a management standpoint, even with the best of systems, there is cost in maintaining UGC quality and relevancy. The cost of scaling is – naturally – variable in that you’ll need additional human resources in managing increasing user numbers.
Underestimating Competitors Strengths
Competition is usually much stronger than it may seem. The attention of your audience (what did you say?) is limited and you will have to fight hard to win their trust. For instance, there are many well funded competitors targeting the “new parent” market and acquiring new users from this audience may be difficult for a start-up.
Underestimating the in-house resources required to build and grow a web product
Building and growing a web product is a 120% full-time job. We have seen many start-ups trying to do this on 50% of the founder’s time and they have all failed. The truth is that if you launch a venture part-time, you will likely lack the pace and commitment needed to win. “Oh, once I get this going, I will quit my day job.” To which we say, no you won't, because if you were committed you wouldn't be in your day job. To succeed, it is likely that you’ll need several people full-time for 12+ months. Anything less than that makes for a half-effort and will likely lead to frustration and failure. (Most start-ups take 3 years to build and does not make much money for founders until year 2+. Can you handle that?)
Those are some big challenges, right? Well, it doesn't matter to you, because you're going to do it anyway are you not? You are going all the way. You'll make it happen. Yes, you will. If you just focus and put your mind to it. Let's go!
We are growing fast and looking for a UX/UI in LA. You'll be part of a small team working on web/mobile products for start-ups. You will be involved in all areas of the interactive development process. Your responsibilities will include working directly with clients on brainstorming, ideation, research, creating wireframes, producing complete screens, writing UX specifications, and leading our visual designers through execution. This is a full-time position.
More about you:
Important experience you have:
If you're looking to switch from advertising/marketing UI work to useful products and have endless passion to bring every day we might be the place for you!
Apply by Resume and 3 URL's to e-mail.
For the past year, we've spent most of our time focusing on a new path - a new strategy - for Fabric.
Today, we announce (officially!) that we are 100% committed to helping entrepreneurs, brands, and media build new digital products and drive key usage metrics for those products.
So why would a Startup or brand work with Fabric and not just hire it's own team?
It's fairly simple. Most startups or brands that come to have two key challenges:
What we offer is a faster and less costly route to market for those who do not have their full teams in place. We are focused on the first 6 months of the product cycle - taking a product from zero to 100,000 users. Fabric's teams and process is focused on driving key usage metrics from fast learning and rapid product iteration.
At the product development level, we bring:
We know that the most challenging aspect of bringing a new product to market is to get initial traction and drive usage. Therefore, in addition to our Rapid Iterative Product Development Process we also offer go-to-market services for new products and Startups:
If you have a new Internet/mobile consumer or SaaS product, we want to talk to you. Right now, the product we build sits within social, mobile, geo-location, and SaaS, but we're open to any project that is utility based and/or is attempting to solve a real problem. Call us!
We got a ton of questions on how we work with start-ups so let's just break it down into some highlights:
When we meet you for the first time… this is what we care about:
We don't care about
We don't hold on to you. We want to let you go. We just want to give you wings. Then go. If you get to that stage, we're happy! Now, call us today. Free advice guaranteed.