Category: Minimally Viable Product

“More than 65% of new products fail. If we switch over to startups, the failure rate takes huge leap to 90%.” – Rob Adams

Even the pros bat less than .500.  And the pros have marketing departments that conduct research and focus groups.  They can afford advertising.

Niche markets are a great strategy for startups.  They tend to have unique needs that are not being met by the big companies.  They are more accessible, generally more forgiving and usually very loyal; all things that favor the startup.

Read “If You Build It, Will They Come?” by Rob Adams


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“We’re gonna fix it till it works!” – Connie

The conversation took place at an entrepreneurial symposium at a national lab.  A researcher named Connie was talking about her research in the context of starting a company.  Her excitement was contagious as she was applying what she had learned about customer needs to the development of the technology she hoped to be the basis of a future startup.  She said, that the prototype didn’t perform the way she wanted it yet but said “We’re gonna fix it till it works!”

Her determination was inspiring.  She had made the transition from proving what is possible to delivering a solution to a problem.  She’s an entrepreneur.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“It doesn’t matter when you go into beta testing – what matters is that you come out of beta testing.” – Guy Kawasaki

Shipping product is one of the biggest validations a startup can accomplish –  especially shipping the first product.

There’s a rule among sound technicians who run the sound systems for live music performances.  If you can’t hear a certain instrument or singer, the first reaction should NOT be to turn it up, but to turn everything else down.  As soon as you start turning stuff up, then you can;t hear other stuff and it needs to be turned up…and so on.

So it is with getting the product out of beta.  The more you test the more you find wrong and the more you want to fix.  Plus that time gives the engineers more time to release new features.  Instead of “turning up” all the features that need to be fixed, think first about those your first customers could do without and perhaps turn them off until the next release.

A minimally viable product is about deciding what NOT to ship.

Read “Reality Check” by Guy Kawasaki


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Customers don’t want their money back. They want a product that works properly.” – Dan Burton

Yes, we preach about not delivering the perfect product, but the product that is good enough.

This is not a question of quality but one of feature selection.  Your product has to solve a problem for the customer in a reliable way and it really helps if the customer enjoys the experience.  Simple design and singularity of purpose are the goal here.  If you nail your value proposition through a diligent customer discovery process, you will learn what features and functions are most important and you can concentrate on delivering those with quality and elegance.

“Make haste slowly.” – Guy Kawasaki

The common advice to startups is to get your product in the customer’s hands as fast as possible.  This is true because if you are solving a big problem, chances are that others are trying to solve it too.

Another basic truth is “never deliver the perfect product; deliver the product that is good enough.”  The Lean Launchpad folks call this the M.V.P.

But none of this means you have to sacrifice quality.  Your product does, in fact, have to work and it’s best when the customer is delighted to use it.

So how do you deliver a great product quickly, that is elegent but just good enough?

The answer is in the features and functionality you choose to deliver.  Your customer discovery process should highlight what is most important in solving the basic problem.  Then you deliver reliable functionality with elegant design and a delightful user experience.

It’s that simple…

Read “Reality Check” – By Guy Kawasaki

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add,… ” – Antoine St. Exuprey

“…but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

To celebrate the coming of 2014, I share my favorite quote.  It speaks to everything.  It’s about simplicity in all you do.

For the entrepreneur, it’s about your Minimally Viable Product and your feature set.  It’s about managing your time.  It’s about crafting your pitch, your mission statement, your strategy.

It’s about filtering out all the noise that distracts you from accomplishing your goals; email, Twitter, Facebook and those who don’t believe in your dream.

And perhaps, blog posts…

Happy New Year!

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The capitalist system is brutal; it takes no prisoners… ” – Rob Adams

“…and has no regard for how much energy you have invested in your business.”

Inventors often face this issue.  They spend years and much of their own fortune designing the perfect product and they spend thousands on patent costs, only to be frustrated when they can’t raise funding or find out how little they can get for licensing their idea.

That’s because all this activity does not equate to value in the business world, nor does it guarantee that customers will buy the product.  The thing that builds value is whether the invention solves a problem for a lot people at a price they are willing to pay.

Dr. Adams will tell you to spend the first 60 days and at least 10% of your budget interviewing customers to see if your idea addresses a real problem in a market.  That way, the money you spend on development and intellectual property isn;t wasted on a hobby.

Definitely read “If Yo Build It, Will They Come?” by Rob Adams


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Interviewing customers is not what most people get out of bed every morning dying to do…” – Rob Adams

“…but in the end, it’s the utlimate way to produce value in the market as it is a sign of an execution mentality.”

There’s a lot packed into this sentence.  Beyond the obvious message of the importance of talking to customers, and the fact that no one likes to do it, there is a more subtle message that is very important.

Investors are interested in traction as a validation of your business model.  But before you have 1,000 visitors to your web site a day, there is the time when you don’t have a product and you don’t have customers.  But as Rob Adams preaches, that is the optimal time to validate the market through customer interviews.

It takes discipline and effort; two things that are going to be of interest to investors.  If you can demonstrate from hundreds of customer interviews that you have a minimally viable product, you not only validate your business model but you show you have the discipline and execution mindset to get the job done.

This is an intangible that all stakeholders look for but there is not a standard slide in the deck for execution mentality.  It comes from evidence of how you conduct business, how you research your markets and how you validate your value proposition.

Read “If You Build It, Will They Come?” by Rob Adams

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“‘Ease of Use’ isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing.” – Lee Martin

Once you get past your early adopters, the main stream market is looking for solutions to their problems.  The value proposition has to be very clear and the basic functionality must be obvious.

This means that you souldn’t try to solve all problems, just the most important.  The balance between benefits and ease of use can be tricky but generally, it’s best to err toward ease of use.  A focus on the Minimally Viable Product provide a framework to achieve this balance.