If you build it they do not come : what (almost) everybody gets wrong about startups

What I'm about to tell you comes from painful experience, I've managed to bumble my way just about staying on top of the lessons and eventually becoming successful but it was definitely the hard way. The thing is that it seems almost everybody gets it wrong, no matter how many successful people, books, etc. tell them they should think about it differently. When I meet the guys that have managed to go 0 to 30 mil ARR in 9 months inevitably they did it the way that is recommended.

The simplest version of it is that almost everybody who wants to create a startup thinks of a product and tries to create an MVP as the first thing and then we're wedded to our sunk cost. Creating a product before starting to sell is generally a huge mistake. I'm a techie, so this took a long time to really sink in surely I needed something to demo or that they could see but I was wrong.

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I think when you are a technical founder you might hear these stories all the time. Whereas if you are on the business/marketing side of it you will hear stories about people being unable to make their product good enough, and fail because of that, all the time.

Big parts of the startup world have been preaching to start selling fast and early for a couple years now, I think someone is pretty out of it if they are spending 6+months building without having done a huge amount of research on their users.

Other points

I think for us developers, it's more fun creating the product because we feel like we're in motion. Wow this "startup" is really moving but we never stop to think of where it's going... usually closer to the cliff.

Market Research is boring for a developer, but if that's the case then maybe the developer needs to stay a developer, if they're not actually interested in starting a business.

It's too late for me right now to start off the right way, but in my current startup we built the product first (web-application) before asking the user; to be fair the product was also for personal use.

After we saw traction and user interest we decided that the majority of users want an app for this and we decided this is where we would go to next.

But now we have vast amounts of data from users, exactly how much people would be willing to pay, what kind of features they would pay for (after months of trial and error on the web-app), what was working, what wasn't, what needs to be improved etc.

It feels better to work on the app knowing all this and being confident in your research than building blindly I have to admit!

"If people would buy is science", not business. You have to prove it, not assume it.

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June 13, 2020, 12:11:26 PM

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