Do you have an idea, a product, or a vision, and are not sure where or how to start or expand? Do it like the big ones and start with the questions “Why do you have this idea?”, “Why would users want that?”, and “Why do they need it now?”
Small effort, large impact
Your product starts with any action you take, such as a question to someone (not friends or family), a survey, using a free website, or a third-party product that will help you narrow down what is going to be your starting point. There is always something out there that will allow you to start somewhere without any technical skills and or minimal investment. Worry not! If it is not the right starting point the whole point is to learn and iterate. Failure is your key to success.
During my entrepreneurial journey, I found a need to leverage real estate agents, buyers, and renters by showcasing properties in VR. I started to use a third-party product that offered free virtual tours at subscription and started to test and sell them. I gathered enough information from my stakeholders to understand their pain points.
Learn, fail, learn, succeed
You came that far trying, asking, changing, and now you found some interest from your target audience. It is time to start testing and improving your idea while keeping your audience (customers/users/consumers) in the loop and learn from them. Constant feedback and engagement will make you move faster and build trust with your stakeholders. They are the answer to your next big thing. It is extremely hard to pivot your idea, business, or even vision only based on your audience’s decision. In this stage of your journey, it is crucial to let down your ego and be fully customer-centric.
To illustrate, and to continue my journey in the example above, one of the pain points I captured was that agents wanted to know what the consumer liked or disliked in each room in a property. Consumers wanted to be able to express themselves on the spot. I decided to make a small investment and hired a freelance engineer online to build a very simple tool using a virtual tour API. By building on top of the API a like and dislike button in each room of a property with a comment box, users could explain why or what they like or didn’t like in that room. With time, more agents started to use it and more consumers were talking about it to other agents. That’s when I knew I found a product-market fit.
Jump to the opportunity before it’s too late
Once you have a good handful of satisfied customers it is time for you to show around what you have achieved. There are three ways to approach this stage. First, by being self profitable and growing slowly, second, is to look for investors willing to partner up and allow you to improve your product and grow faster, and third is to apply to an acceleration program that will invest in your idea and help you go to market with a solid MVP. As soon as you choose your path this will be the beginning of an exciting journey, and the first step to success.
At this stage of the same journey, I had traction but couldn’t find it on my own since the product I was working on was very tech-heavy. So in my case, I chose to enroll in an accelerator program where I learned everything there is to know in the tech world and how to lead a cross-functional team and work using agile methodologies. The two most important baggage I took with me when I finished the program were the learnings, and a solid MVP that I can show to investors, and scale in the future. I got some funding from the program as well and started to hire a team of engineers and designers. It was the best decision I made and was able to escalate the product to another level.
This article can be applied to entrepreneurs, product managers, or any business looking to innovate and grow. Good luck on your next journey!