Before The Build Starts

How to set up for success.

2018-11-22

The most successful products go through a lot of iteration. The key to creating a successful product is iterating faster and cheaper than the competition. For this reason, when we build products, we take the pre-development phase very seriously.

It is 10x faster and cheaper to change functionality and get feedback on features in the idea phase than it is in the design phase, and 10x faster in the design phase than it is in the development phase. We want to take advantage of our early stage flexibility to learn a lot and learn quickly, so we aim to:

  • Iterate “on paper”
  • Define the problem and solution
  • Set up the product for commercial success

Here’s how we do it:

1. Users & Problem

The only requirement to get started is to have a target audience and a problem you’re trying to solve for them.

At this stage, you are picking a Market. Who is your product for? There are a lot of ways to calculate market size based on different assumptions. This is as much an art as it is a science. Simply put, you need enough people to spend enough money on solving their problem. You decide what “enough” is. Unlike Silicon Valley, at Get It Built we believe not every product worth building has a billion dollar market. You should pick a market based on your goals and priorities for your business. You should also have (or be ready to work towards) a unique advantage in your market by being able to solve your user’s problem better than anyone else.

2. Talking to Users

Conducting user interviews, surveys, and market research is the first step to building something people want. If you are uniquely positioned to offer user’s something they don’t yet know they want this process will focus on figuring out how to bridge that gap so that they can understand why they need your product.

Our favorite way to gather user data is by solving their problem #IRL. You should try to find 100 people in your market with the problem and do whatever you can to solve their problem for them. In the case of Uber, this means giving 100 people rides yourself. You should be able to leverage existing tools at this stage. In this step you are working towards:

  • Intimate familiarity with the problem.
  • Understanding the weaknesses of the solution.
  • Low-cost iterations on the solution.
  • Building a community for your brand.

3. Brainstorming Ideas

Usually, when people have an app idea, they can visualize it in their minds. Sometimes we get unreasonably attached to the first version of our idea, so a step that should not be foregone is brainstorming. Informed by your users and your own experience, it is important to bring different perspectives together, remove boundaries and explore the possibilities for solutions to your users’ problems. We use Ideo’s flavor of brainstorming as inspiration for ours. These are the rules:

  • Defer judgment
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Build on the ideas of others
  • Stay focused on the topic
  • One conversation at a time
  • Be visual
  • Go for quantity

4. Feature Lists

Confident that we have explored all our options, we switch gears to making decisions. Feature lists at Get It Built are created with the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mentality.

We focus on creating value for your users as quickly as possible. It is not useful to compare yourself to products built by companies who have raised 1000x more than you to expand their product. Speeding up development for us is by reducing the quantity, not the quality of features. Bigger companies have the bandwidth to do more, but they also set the ever-increasing standard for design that we should meet with our MVP. If we focus on the essentials, we can use your MVP to give value to users, and then expand on it to scale when we have validation. At this point, you should be giving users enough value that they are looking forward to the rest of the app rather than not using you because you are missing some features. If the latter is happening, you need to rethink, review, retarget, and retest. If you get this right, you will have product-market fit before even finishing your product. Our rules are simple:

  • Less is more.
  • Simplicity is key.

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5. Landing Pages

Your first landing page will be your company or product website. You can use this page to let people know about your product and start collecting user interest. We recommend using a website like Wix and Google Domains.

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6. Beta List

One of the most important things to do before you start building an app is creating and deploying a strategy for building your beta list. Landing pages are a part of this, but you should know who you want to be the core group of testers. These are the people that you will entrust with giving you feedback on your product and be intentional about gathering and managing this group.

It’s natural to be in a rush to see your ideas come to life but investing in a solid pre-development phase is crucial for the success of your venture. Alongside design and proper technical planning, these simple steps pay for themselves tenfold in development and customer acquisition savings down the line.



Still working on your idea? Learn more about how to find product-market-fit before building product.

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