Posts Taged productization

The Entrepreneurial Enigma


According to Statistics Brain global data, 44% of startups wind up by year 3 worldwide.

What’s more, the pace of failure is picking up and with it comes erosion of investor funds. In India specifically, last year 15 startups shuttered and that number has almost doubled to 29 in the first six months of 2016 (source: Inc42, a tech-focused news and events startup). 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs admit that the top 2 challenges they faced when they started their dream ventures were: 1) Figuring out Product – Market fitment and 2) Execution & launching the product in the market with limited resources and the challenges associated with doing things for the 1st time.  

Startups of today missed the brief of “innovate fast, fail fast”; instead they went for “scale fast, fail fast” culture. Scale has nothing to do with innovation. Discounts may bring in customers but it cannot make them stay. This is a conundrum that any new or established entrepreneurs or Product Managers face. All they do is invariably start off on the wrong foot; solve a problem with technology. No amount of research goes into understanding the root cause of the problem. The customer problem might manifest itself in multiple, unknown and non-linear ways. In the same way, the understanding of the solution would always fall in the realm of ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ and that should be the starting point of innovation. They put all their eggs in one basket and are unwilling to explore multiple options.

Competitive advantage doesn’t come overnight as it is a continuous process of adhering to principles ranging from mindset to process which can be aligned and applied to solve complex problems of customers. Competitive advantage through innovation most often occurs within a set of constraints, such as viability, profitability and desirability and that a traditional business-minded rational/analytic approach should be complemented with design thinking. 

Did you have the same problem of pinpointing the actual problem before you embarked on solving it? Do you have trouble laying out the solution in a framework that has effect on the entire value chain of a customer’s journey? Have you been grilled on differentiating the “value” and valuation” of your startup or even an idea? Then join us to explore the answer together. All the said and unsaid problems, frameworks to make it simple, pitches to socialize your idea, marketing strategy to position your solution to the right audience and more have been painstakingly put together in our new book “Mystery to Mastery- Ideation to Productization Playbook”.

Ready to cross the chasm between finding the right problem and creating the best solution? The book is launching! Let’s undertake this journey together!

Maximum Validated Learning

“Evolutionary quest for perfection, but with a feedback loop” – Pijush & Mahuya

There is no better time to fail and learn than now! We are living in a world where experimentation, trial and error and really understanding the pain points of the human beings involved in the process are critical dimensions. When it comes to problems involving human beings, data from the past is not necessarily predictive of the future and collaboration between people with varied perception of the problem is of utmost importance.  This where the need to test and fail comes to the fore. The most effective approach to test a hypothesis in small measures is Design Thinking and this “small measure” is Minimum Viable Product (MVP). 

Some of the earliest examples of MVP took ages to get to their final (or current) form. Time telling instruments for instance took thousands of years to get to the form that we are familiar with. But during the course of its journey, all the previous forms were true MVPs in themselves. They all had just those features that allowed them to be used by early adopters (and start giving feedback on).

Have a look at the following video that we created on evolution of time telling instruments. Some may say that its evolution but we say it’s Maximum Validated Learning.

It’s so easy to get the concept of MVP wrong; right from defining it to the actual execution. The most common misconception is that MVP is a product with minimum set of features. It could be minimum, but is it viableIs it potentially shippable? Does it resonate with early adopters? Is the product basic enough to test a hypothesis but functional enough to focus on user activities and conforms to the overall vision of the product? It’s never easy to get it right. The idea is to replace the traditional method of having a one dimensional feature list (based on business value) with a two dimensional map based on Customer Journey. 

Recall our last post on User Personas? The Persona is represented by his/her goals, needs, aspirations and pain-points. Each Persona has its own journey and interaction/touch points with the system. This is what we commonly refer to as the User Journey. This is where we capture the primary goal of the product or solution. 

The User Journey represents the end to end interaction between the user and the application (product or service) through its life-cycle. Each of the stages of this User Journey can further be exploded into a task flow that represents the interaction or process flow. This is where we define the main process or flow of the product or solution. 

Drill a level deeper and you have the features that a product or a service needs to have. This is where we create a list of feature for each of the stages. These can then be broken down into user stories and stack ranked based on priority.

Now comes the real (and hardest) trick. If we take the very first row of the prioritized feature of each stage, we can come up with a working skeleton. This represents the smallest possible representation of a usable product. The idea is to take the take the top prioritized items from each of the stages of the user journey and what you would have is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

One might argue that the idea of MVPs could be a waste of time. Detractors may say, why spend time and effort on building a prototype that might never get completed or might be too simple to appeal to the target segment.

Well, the idea is to get an opportunity to see firsthand how your target customers use and perceive a product, which focus groups or boring surveys don’t. Proponents of MVP can find solace in what William Edward Hickson said:

 ‘Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again.’


Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook