Pivoting In A Startup – A Product Development Approach

This clip sums up product development in a startup. We usually start with a single idea, which grows and branches out as it develops- We absorb other ideas on the way – try to assimilate them with our original idea- get distracted by other stuff and finally end up with something very different from what we have conceived in the first place. Whatever, but it is one hell of a journey!

I thought of writing our experiences with FoodKonnekt development process and how one can enjoy this journey of constant churn and interaction of technology & business needs.

Eureka, I got it! Like Archimedes, I got this idea which I thought was earth shattering. Now, just as any entrepreneur would do, I  ran towards my mac book to quickly give form to my ideas  – excel spreadsheets, market research, idea validations – you name it I did that.

Next step was to build a prototype and that is where I feel the rubber meets the road. All your projections of getting the product out to the door within a very short amount of time within a shoestring budget go for a toss as new requirements come up every minute as you go about developing the product. What I learned was that one must have a flexible estimate of time and resources.  You must also invest in testing the product if you want to avoid ending up in a vicious cycle of bug fixes and patches.

Come up with well-defined product requirements – business and technical. Given that one can come up with an elaborate mouse trap that has all the bells and whistles or choose the basic option that works (provide core feature set) along with good design. The second option is what we had in mind when building FoodKonnekt. Our basic goal during product development was

  • Come up with a basic version of the product that can work, place orders online, get into the PoS and get notifications when to pick up.
  • The UI and UX of the product has to be impeccable or else the product will not fly
  • Ability to meet customer’s requirements (most of them) within a certain timeline

Once we had clearly defined goals, our requirements were also kind of clear (they do change a  bit and that is normal, I guess!). Then we started working on creating a working prototype and have a couple of our customers give feedback about the functionality.

Even with all this planning, we still had issues and I guess they area part of the game.

Here are a few pointers that may help you along the way:

  • Have very specific goals (requirements wise) for your product.
  • Document the development process with screenshots and wireframes.
  • Flexible Timeline
  • Buffer budget – 1.5 to 2.0 times your original plan
  • Follow a lean product development model – create a smaller feature set for faster iteration
  • Communicate with your team on a continuous basis
  • Involve your customers right from requirements gathering to product testing
  • Have fun!