Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Fine Line Between a Great Product and a Total Failure


Comedian Louis C.K. (Saturday, December 10th, to be exact) recently made an unorthodox move of bypassing traditional release methods and releasing his latest comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, for $5 online via Pay Pal (or credit card.)  Along with the offering, Louis C.K. very nicely asked that people don’t pirate this video or “torrent it”, stating that he paid for the whole production himself.  The results?  C.K. released some numbers which were quite impressive.  As of today, 110k copies have been sold for a total intake of over $500k, covering his cost and netting him $200k so far.

Why am I talking about this? I want to speak about developing and offering not just a new product, but a great new product.  Louis, in my opinion, is a great comedian.  Simply put, I also think he has a great product.  He was able to make more on his own than by other paid resources by having a great product.  A great product creates brand loyalty.  It creates a viral presence. And most importantly, it creates REVENUE! 

In my opinion, developing a product that is truly great is the only thing that matters when creating your startup.  I want to make it clear; I do not think having the most features on a product declares it the winner.  I think it is the right features that make a great product truly revolutionary. And hey, that’s what we are all out here trying to do, right? Innovate and start a revolution.  Change how people do things.  Hell, even impact a city.

We recently started on a project that I (in all honesty) wasn’t sure of at first.  We went through a process we use at Think Big Partners called the Prism Process (that’s a whole other blog post in itself.)  After going through this process, I bought in.  I started seeing how the idea could truly change the way people plan their collective lives, thanks to the Prism Process. 

This project is based around a great product.  We found it “great” through the Prism Process.  But what differentiates a product from being proclaimed as great and being proclaimed as so-so?  Here are a few key points that I have found to be true when working as a product manager with startup companies:

1.  A great team is key. Find the people who know their limitations (that includes myself).

2.  Engineers usually think in terms of implementation.  While the designers think creatively, they figure out how to make the creations a reality.  This makes for an incredible User Experience (also known as “UX”).

3.  UX design isn’t just the visual look of the product, it’s also the interaction of the design.

4.  The functionality of the product (product features or must-haves) and the UX by nature, are interconnected.

5.  It’s important to test new products early and often.  This startup we are working on is somewhat radical and complex, so this step is absolutely crucial to its success.

6.  Do your best to find a minimal viable product (or “MVP”) that meets your objective as a startup and launch ASAP.  Keep in mind, this MVP must provide the most frictionless user experience possible.

7.  Keep in the lean startup frame of mind.  Once you find this sweet spot, launch right away.  That means getting users on the site and quickly figuring out which features make sense and which ones don’t.  In the instance with our new project, my bet is that we throw some features out the window and figure out something else.  

The success of a great product comes from the belief in an even greater idea.  Be strategic, form a dynamite team, test, test, test and then build a great product from the ground up.  You’ll be surprised to find that when you launch a truly great product, the rest (like success) will follow. 

Follow me! @blakemiller32

No comments:

Post a Comment