The Startup Owner’s Manual—Part 5—The Big Mistake

In Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s The Startup Owner’s Manual, they discuss the traditional new-product introduction model, and share the diagram below:



They assert this is a reasonable way to introduce a product if:

  • Customers are known
  • Product features are known
  • The market is well-defined
  • The basis of competition is understood

But think about the average start up. Let’s say I want to create an app that helps connect people.

Do I know who my customers are? I think I might have a guess, but I don’t know with any certainty. One of the worst shocks of my life was discovering that not everyone thinks like me. How could they not? I’m so reasonable. If I like something, of course everyone else will. It sounds silly saying it out loud, but how many of us have tried to build a company on this silly thought?

Do I know what product features are necessary? If I want to connect people, should my app interface with Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Instagram? It’s common practice to build more features into a product than most people will ever use. Unfortunately, that drains a business of cash and can kill the business before it has a chance to figure out what features the customers really want.

Do I have a well-defined market? It depends on what product or service is being offered, but the long-tail world we live in makes it increasingly difficult to define.

Do I understand the basis of competition? How will my app compete with other technology that connects people? How will people decide whether to use my product or one that is similar? Or no product at all, as “none of the above” is often the easiest decision.

Tomorrow we’ll start talking about the 9 deadly sins of the new product introduction model. They are thought-provoking and will change the way you think about starting your business.

If you have any questions or need anything, email me.

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