Don’t fall in love with your robot: why entrepreneurs need more than a product they love

By August 3, 2017News
falling in love with your robot

Tech entrepreneurs are naturally attached to their creation. But anyone who runs a business knows that there’s far more to it than a product that they are convinced is brilliant. Success means knowing your market and your customers – their preferences, their buying patterns, their acceptable price points – and tailoring a solution to them.

When technology isn’t created with the end-user firmly in mind, it becomes an exercise in self-satisfaction – the creator ends up falling for their own ‘robot’, so to speak. But how can you create audience-centric products and stay true to your original creative spark?

Build your product to address a specific problem

2017_08_03_fallling-in-love-with-robot_problem_v1The best way to start is to focus on the end-user’s pain points: find an issue that really bugs them or a process that could be more efficient and think about how your idea can help.

As investors, we often come across start-up founders with excellent technical chops and a product that is – in terms of specifications, creativity, and functionality – highly impressive. However, they have one crucial shortcoming: they were built without a target audience in mind. As a consequence, teams sit on the massive challenge of finding a problem for their genius solution to solve.

As Lou Reed once said: “To be terrific, be specific.” Look for a customer issue that’s so far unaddressed and work to monopolise that niche before your competitors do. Start small and test often: identify your early adopters, listen to feedback, adjust your offering and expand your portfolio to capture more of your target audience. From there, you can steadily expand, if necessary. Don’t be put off by early setbacks but embrace them as a valuable learning to refocus and figure out where your ultimate sweet spot lies.

And certainly don’t be blinded by the brilliance of your own ideas. It doesn’t matter how good it is if your customer doesn’t agree.

Understand your market

2017_08_03_fallling-in-love-with-robot_research_v1In order to get to product-market-fit, there is no way around understanding your market inside out. Don’t act on a hunch. To be able to delight your customers, you first have to know what they want.

Your priority should be conducting enough research to understand if this market is big enough for you to make an impact and how you can best attack it. Stay close to your customer and take their feedback as a gift to guide you on the right track. Live data is the most powerful source for learning. Look for patterns in your user behaviour, ask them directly and built ongoing relationships with them. If they feel valued, chances are they will be happy to help.

Keep pushing forward

2017_08_03_fallling-in-love-with-robot_forward_v1You can’t stop working on your business once it’s launched and has made initial traction. Nailing your niche and the needs of your early adopters should only be the first step on your quest of achieving your vision.

Think about ways to grow, be it in other markets or customer segments. Could you make your offering available regionally, nationally, or even globally? Look at Amazon: the company made a deliberate choice to take one step at a time, beginning as an online bookseller. Today, it’s the world’s dominant e-commerce site, and has its finger in entertainment, online storage, and all manner of different pies.

Why? Because they kept looking for ways to keep pushing forward – to serve underdeveloped niches and challenging status quos of how to do business. Forge several distinct, but interlinked customer bases to benefit from network effects. The denser your network, the harder it will be for your competitors to muscle in on your market territory.

A good idea is a prerequisite for success, not a guarantee. Keep your target audience in your line of sight and ensure that your business is built around providing a real solution to a real problem. If you prioritize product-market-fit above everything else and ruthlessly execute against it, chances are you will reap the rewards.

If you think your idea has the potential to flip the traditional lottery industry on its head, give us a call.

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