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4 Pieces of Advice for Startup Teams, from a Product Manager

I’ve been helping founders build MVPs for 10 years now. Here are a couple of tips I always share with them.
June 6, 2022
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Lead Product Manager

I’ve been involved in helping founders build MVPs for 10 years now. 

Over the course of this time, I have continuously seen how many founders fall into the trap of wanting to build and launch the complete and ultimate product… as a first version.

The general rule of thumb should always be “the less you know, the less you should spend”. This makes logical sense, as it flies directly in the face of building something massive with the hope of people loving, and potentially using it. 

Having said the above, there seems to be a human tendency for founders to always want to launch the perfect, and fully functional product at the first attempt. To prevent yourself from wasting tons of money, time, and energy, here are my suggestions.

1. Don’t fall in love with your own product

Fall and stay in love with the problem that you are solving. In fact, I would say get married to that problem. 

Avoid the trap of becoming your own biggest tech and product fan. The tech is a means to an end, and lives to solve a user’s problem. If you don’t do this, you will be tempted to become everything to everyone. 

2. Listen to your users! 

Your users determine your next step, their collective voice directs you to your product’s true north. Listen to them, and make decisions based on data secured from objective sources. They are the ones who dictate what goes into your roadmap. 

3. Know the difference between vitamins and painkillers

You can have a really cool idea… but if it’s only a vitamin and not a painkiller, unfortunately, it’s not likely to scale. 

How do you work this out? Make sure you’re testing your idea with potential users to help establish whether it is a “need to have'' or a “nice to have” product. Accept the truth, and avoid being overly loyal to what you think might be a painkiller, when in fact it’s only a vitamin. Just because you can build something doesn’t mean people will use it.

Accept the truth, and avoid being overly loyal to what you think might be a painkiller, when in fact it’s only a vitamin. Just because you can build something doesn’t mean people will use it.

4. Collecting & putting features together doesn’t give you a product 

Simply adding a collection of features together does not give a product, in fact it just creates a convoluted user experience.  

See features for what they are – they serve to enhance the general product experience. You need to solve a big problem first, and then add features only as and when needed. Be careful to think that features in and of themselves can make you money. 

An example: After many years, Uber is still primarily focusing on finding you a ride, quickly and simply. The features that Uber has added over time (such as rating drivers, or in app chats etc), simply enhanced the experience of getting you from point a to point b without owning a car. 

Learn from those who came before you – avoid the trap of building too much, and build something that truly serves your customer, no frills. Our team of venture builders has worked on numerous ventures for early-stage entrepreneurs and unicorns alike. It’s what has helped us curate a venture portfolio worth more than €5.3bn.

If you’re a founder, startup, or scaleup with a great idea for your next business, feature, or product, and need to get running with it today, talk to us and get a free consultation with one of our top strategists.

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