“Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
But this isn’t really so.
According to a report, 50% of all new business fail within five years. A tech entrepreneur has to deal with many product development challenges throughout his journey and no challenge is big or small. During the development of the app, you’ll have to deal with competition, customer satisfaction, capital issues, lack of technical resources, etc.
We asked some of the well-known and successful tech entrepreneurs and founders about the challenges they faced while building their products and how they dealt with them. These experts also have some great product development advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs who are ready to start their businesses.
Here’s what they have to say:
#1 Twelve months after launching you’ll surely have a different business than when you started
Mike Kawula, CEO at Social Quant
Imperfect Action Beats Perfect Inaction
I’m a huge fan of George S. Patton’s famous quote: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week”
I feel many startups focus on the exact opposite and wait, way too long before getting market feedback or they play business worrying about logos, business cards, office setup, website and other non-revenue producing tasks a startup needs to survive in the beginning.
Over the last 15 years I’ve started several different businesses. Some have been great successes and others have been great lessons.
The one consistent thing I’ve learned from each and every one of these businesses is that 12 months after you launch, you are guaranteed to have a different business than when you started.
The market (customers with their wallet) will always speak, and the successful entrepreneur who listens will succeed. The only way to get there, is by launching, speaking and listening with your prospects/customers.
Here at Social Quant, we launched fast focusing only on increasing Twitter followers. We surveyed and spoke daily with our customers and designed a service the market wanted. Not only was our product better, but our messaging got better.
Ask your clients:
1) Describe our service, as you would tell a friend, in one sentence.
2) Why do you use our service, what pain point are we solving for you?
One year into our business and we still ask this to our customers and it always helps us perfect our messaging and marketing.
Currently, we’re rolling out a new Twitter Analytics tool and doing the exact same thing.
Launching rough, fast and assuring the data we’re providing is actionable and of value to our beta group. This group will help us perfect the service, create the messaging and ultimately add another 6 figure (if not 7 figure) MRR service.
I’ll close with one last quote for all startups to take to heart from a brilliant entrepreneur:
“Move Fast and Break Things” Mark Zuckerberg
#2 Make sure your solution is unique and scalable
David Buttress, CEO at Just-Eat
My advice would be to avoid using your own personal user case and ‘trendy’ niches at all costs. This road is a well worn path, which may attract some early investment but is most likely a dud as a scalable business.
I would suggest stick to the basics, what’s the big problem that needs fixing using your tech or what respective industry issue needs serious improvement? Figure out how does your solution fit, why is it unique and how does it scale. What will the business model be and what unit economics will be created once built? Simple.
#3 Best guide for app design – Focus on your customer’s basic needs
Rick Orr, co-founder and CEO at Realsavvy, founder and CTO at TabbedOut
From non-standard data sources to limitations with today’s Geo-coding services to unravelling bad habits from years of using home search filters, in trying to help evolve the real estate technology space at large, we had to overcome an array of friction points.
To deal with the technical and relational challenges of entering an antiquated space like real estate, we centered our product roadmap around creating a more collaborative home search. In doing so, first, we found that users preferred accuracy and performance over bells and whistles. This allowed us to simplify our interface to focus on only the critical data and filters for a home search.
Second, we discovered through rapid feedback loops with agents and consumers on our system that, by building a highly performance map-based search, once the user provided 2 or 3 key elements of their needs (e.g. price range, size, etc.) that we could give users a superset of data on a simple map interface allowing them to refine the most critical element of any home search – location.
Ultimately, we were reminded that, for apps especially, less is more and you can often lessen the scope of your challenges by reducing the scope of the user interaction points themselves. In my experience, often the best guide for app design is actually Maslow’s hierarchy – focus on your customer’s basic needs.
As for TabbedOut, during the early days, which were also the early days of the App Store, the biggest challenge was delivering a delightful mobile experience for consumers while interfacing with antiquated 3rd party point of sale systems with limited APIs and virtually no supporting documentation at the time.
While we expected the integration between the app and the point of sale would be hard, in the end it was considerably more difficult than we ever could have anticipated but also a key reason TabbedOut is the category leader still today.
#4 Ensure that you are solving the right problem
James Morris, product designer at Buffer
The biggest challenges when developing a new app, service or feature is ensuring you’re solving the right problems in the first place. There are many scenarios that can be overcome on the road to release but it can all be a waste if you build something the user doesn’t want or need. To maximize your chance of success, it’s wise to invest more time in the early stages to deeply understand the user and the problems they are facing.
#5 Instead of giving up on the issue, give solution for it
Ida Tin, Founder and CEO at Clue
The biggest challenge since Clue’s launch directly relates to the lack of resources women have when it comes to their health — whether due to a lack of scientific research or due to societal taboos.
This is still a very new space with a ton of potential because every woman in the world faces the realities that come with menstruation, fertility, and overall health. Many people don’t have the tools to discuss this fundamental and important part of life. Some even consider it “niche” or avoid the subject altogether.
Paving the way for an entirely new space, Femtech, and opening up the dialogue globally has been one of the biggest, and most exciting, challenges we’ve faced building Clue.
#6 Design according to user’s convenience
Paul English, co-founder of Lola Travel, former Founder and CTO at Kayak, Founder at Summits.org school system in rural Haiti
We launched Lola in May 2016 to allow travelers to chat with a travel expert anytime day or night, to get help with travel research and booking. For Lola V2, we’re adding a bot and also do-it-yourself features, to allow users to search and book using whichever interface they are comfortable with for each part of their trip.
We have yet to see an app which integrates all three of these approaches well, or even any two of these items, so we have many design challenges we’ve been working on for the last two months. You will see the new product, Lola V2, before the end of this calendar year.
#7 Ensure that you provide a complete solution to the user
Gareth Capon, CEO at Grabyo
Grabyo Mobile replicates many of the video editing and distribution functions of our cloud platform. Enabling these features whilst retaining a simple, elegant user experience was our biggest challenge. We overcame this by focusing on the needs of mobile users and reducing the number of options available.
Our app was used for video creation by 50 Paralympic athletes in Rio 2016, their positive feedback is a testament to the quality of the final product experience.