Last night, I spoke at the Georgia Tech Entrepreneur Society on "Building a Product."
I have built several products myself, and everyday we are heavily involved in the building of products for our wonderful clients at Highgroove. Before the talk, my mind was spinning with ideas on what to tell these Georgia Tech Entrepreneurs.
I ended up telling a few stories, but there are really two main points I wanted to impart, that I've seen make products (at least, web-based, or technology-based products) successful:
- Eating your own Dog Food
This is crucial. There is no way you can make a product without using it day to day. Many of the improvements Derek and Andre make to Scout are gradual adjustments that build on each other, adding up to something big over time (charts are a good example). 1
The clients we've seen that use their own product have a much better chance of succeeding, we can attest to this.
- There's nothing wrong with giving up.
Nobody likes to fail. When you get good at failing, it's actually more like a lesson. In fact, when you get really good at marketing, each tiny lesson is actually "a stepping stone towards success." We've made plenty of mistakes building products, but the worst is continuing down a path that just isn't right, or won't amount to any value.
We've given up plenty of times, and blogged about it. It's important, when you give up, to assess why -- we like doing that through blogging and sharing about our failures (and successes). 2
Thanks to the Georgia Tech Entrepreneur Society for hosting me. If you're a Georgia Tech student interested in business, startups, and tech, they have weekly meetings and speakers.
1 Our failed experiment: great on the rack, bad in the mirror on the Scout Blog
2 We Just Undid Three Months of Dev work. Here's What We Learned on the Scout Blog