Start-ups have a hard time getting off the ground because they have to build and promote their product in a crowded marketplace using limited resources. While there are a handful of successful start-ups, the vast majority of entrepreneurs have to overcome the challenge of developing and releasing a product that may or may not be successful. Quick development and deployment is the key to success here.
Two Ways to Develop and Introduce a Product
Maximize Chance of Success
The first method is known as ‘Maximize Chance of Success’, where a considerable amount of time and money is invested into developing the perfect product. Start-ups who follow this method believe they have only one shot at success and those positive first impressions are crucial. Hence, they are willing to invest five years into R’n’D to make sure the final product is perfect. However, the problem with this approach is the rapid advancements in the tech market. Technology is constantly evolving and a start-up that spends a significant amount of time developing a single product will most likely be left behind. The other problem is that consumers may not be interested in the product, for interest depends on several factors like product function, use, available features, and marketing.
Release early, Release often
Noticing the failings of the first method, start-ups decided to take the opposite route in a process called ‘Release early, release often.’ Instead of spending months and years developing the perfect product, the priority is shifted to speed in developing and releasing a product with the little resources available. Here the emphasis is placed on ‘Time’, rather than planning for the ideal set of features required for a wholistic product. For example, the moment a feature is developed it is released immediately in order to ascertain customer feedback. This feedback is then used to continuously refine the product, making the company extremely reliant on their customers for product development. However, there is one flaw in this method: overwhelming feedback. Customers will have different opinions about how to improve the product, which may lead to confusion about which direction the product should go in.
What’s the Solution?
The solution lies in combining the two methods to create the ‘Minimum Viable Products’. The brand-new method of product development and distribution involves creating a product with a minimal core feature set before releasing it for distribution. Then, make improvements and expand on the product based on the feedback received. The advantage here is the opportunity to engage with visionary customers who see the potential of the product, even in its minimal state.
Challenges and Considerations
Entrepreneurs must decide on the number of core features that count as a viable product. The best option is to design the product with the features the entrepreneur thinks is acceptable. After that, cut the feature set by half, and repeat the process twice. These excluded features in-turn, can be scheduled as updates for the future.
However, a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ has one disadvantage: Consumers may not care. While there are some customers who see the potential in a new product, several customers will not care about the product due to its minimal state.
The ‘Minimum Viable Product’ is the best way for entrepreneurs to get their start-up firm off the ground. It strikes the perfect middle ground between investing time and resources while still releasing a base product to build and expand on.