From the Startup Mixology Conference – Turning Ideas Into Products

June 17, 2011

11:30 am

You may have the best idea for a new product, but bringing that concept from a sketch on a napkin to reality is not always the easiest thing to do.

At yesterday’s conference, Zvi Band and Michael Mayernick walked attendees through the steps you need to take to actually launch a great product.  Zvi is Founder/Developer at Structo and Workstreamer; Michael is CoFounder of Spinnakr.  Together, they have built HeyAstro!, ProudlyMadeInDC and DC Tech Summer and are co-organizers in DC Tech Meetup.  So, basically, they know what they’re talking about.

Zvi immediately started out by saying:

“Your ideas are meaningless. What is important is execution.”

Startups typically work this way: You get an awesome idea, write your business plan, put together dozens of features you need, compile 30 pages of specs, tweak and tweak some more, launch it, and then you fail miserably.

Zvi and Michael put together a framework to help startups validate their idea.

It starts with rapid prototyping.  First, you validate your idea with the target market.  Then you can better define the product and what it is/what it is for.  Start the process of developing relationships with your customers at this point, as it will help you build better products quicker.  Conduct surveys to find what people are really looking for and to develop customer leads.

The best way to get started with all of this is by building a landing page.  You’ll be able to capture customer information, turning it into a hub for your idea.  You can test all of your marketing messaging here, and they recommended that you advertise with online ads.  All of this will help you figure out people are responding to.

Next is customer development.  Put together a survey and as they come back, you can drill down to what is important to people and start building a product to complement what the market needs.  Send out the survey to as many people as possible.

Now that you know your customer pain points, establish your most viable product.  It will have a limited subset of features that a developer can put together quickly.  Ask a nerdy friend or coworker to help, or hire a freelance developer.

The next step is putting together a detailed wireframe.  Find a designer  to do this.

Finally you can launch your product, even if it’s not perfect, and start growing your user base.  People will point out bugs to help you refine the product.  Make sure you measure everything – how many people visit the website, how many pages they visit, how long they’re on the site, where people get in the sales cycle.  Don’t think about the next features you want to build out; think more about user adoption.

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Monika Jansen is a writer and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, newsletters, website content, and other materials. Follow her at: @monikacjansen

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