In our work of building digital products for startups around the world, we get to see how a lot of them thrive, while others fail. But what makes all the differences between unicorns and startups that end up failing, and why do some of the startups fail? In this series of articles, we are taking you through some of our best practices when it comes to building and launching mobile startups.
42% of startups fail because there is no market need, 29% because they run out of cash, and 19 % of startups fail because they can’t build the right digital product team. There are many other reasons to add to this thread, but for now, let’s keep our focus on the first one — 42% of startups fail because there is no market validation
What is market validation?
Market validation is a process that helps you determine whether your product is of interest for your market. It starts with writing down your app concept, conducting a series of interviews with potential users, and lastly, testing the market with a Minimum Viable Product.
At appssemble, we created a digital product development process that covers the entire flow of building and shipping digital products, from product strategy and business analyses to launch and maintenance, while offering businesses a trusted way of validating their new product idea. Having a process in place is a great way to make sure there’s a tried way of building startups, but since there’s no universal success recipe, we often have to put our process aside, adapting to specific product needs and scenarios.
The business analyses phase of building a digital product should start with writing down the product concept. Find a pen and a piece of paper, and start writing down your answers to these questions:
Who is my customer? — We hope your answer won’t be everyone because if it is, we are in big trouble. When it comes to gathering data about your potential customers, there is no such thing as getting too specific. Just make sure you are collecting all relevant information about your prospective users in one place.
At appssemble, we like to have what we call a creative mind-melting session with our clients. We sit, talk and document all details about their users in complex user persona profiles. We pay extra attention to address their pain points and how the digital product we build can solve their problems.
There are several tools you can use to start creating your user persona profiles right now. Make my persona from HubSpot is one of the tools we recommend the most.
What problem am I solving for my customers? - In our jobs, we often see entrepreneurs fret about the features they are launching and taking the decision with a product-first mindset, then spending time thinking why their product is not getting any traction. You now know who your customer is, so our advice is to think of the problem you are solving for your customer first. If you can’t put your finger on your customer’s problem, you won’t succeed in solving it. Look at it from a user standpoint and make sure your customer sees value in having this problem solved.
How does my product solve the problem? Only after defining the problem you are addressing, you can move on to discussing the product. You want to translate the solution you provide to your users into functionalities that will be integrated into your app — which brings us to another important thing.
Choosing to build an MVP.
A minimum viable product is the first version of your digital product, containing a minimum amount of features to delight users and collect valuable feedback from the market. At appssemble, we like to call it Minimum Lovable Product because besides validating a need and helping you get valuable feedback from the market, an MVP should also get to the hearts of your users.
In our effort to reach market validation with the digital products we build, we often advise stakeholders that work with us to go MVP-first. This means that when we sit and look at the product they want to develop, we prioritise on the features that are the core of the app, cutting down on all those bits and pieces that don’t necessarily influence the market-fit aspect.
We like to think of the MVP as a great way to test all the assumptions you made about your clients while in the strategy phase, and to evaluate the value customers assign to your product. If you are keen on following a build-measure-learn loop and resist the urge of adding new features to your product before even testing what you first put on the market, you’ll soon find our how going MVP first can save you a lot of money.
Take a quick look at some of the mobile apps built by appssemble that started out as minimum viable products.
Product development does not end after launch.
An important phase in your process of reaching market validation is getting the app you build into the hands of the users, as soon as possible. Once the product is out there, you are standing face to face the with the opportunity to improve your product.
Pay attention to their reactions and pain points, make sure that the entire user experience makes sense for them, and be fast when it comes to improving the app.