Thanks to Christopher Lam, for this post he posted on medium which he so kindly let me repost for him on this site. You can see the original post here.
Notes on Michael Siebel about Building Product in YC Startup School. I am participating in this years’ 2018 Startup School.
JustinTV make a crap load of mistakes but what saved it was:
- Team was extremely technical — not intimidated by any technical problem.
- Egos tied to the startup; the feeling that if *this* failed then you have failed at life
- Really low cash burn due to a bunch of 23 year olds sharing low living costs
What problem are you solving?
- You have to figure what you are doing and what problem you are solving.
- JustinTV did broadcasts — it easy if anyone wants that: did anyone watch it?
- Can you state the problem clearly? It only takes one sentence.
- Have you experienced the problem yourself? Make something that you would use yourself.
- Can you define your problem narrowly? What can we address immediately?
- Is the problem solvable? Eg. Poppy is ‘Uber’ for babysitters. Why do people need it? People have various reasons to hire babysitters, ie for babies or toddlers. Poppy discovered that the trust/skill factor has to be extremely high for them to hire a babysitter for your baby. Babysitters aren’t as replaceable as cab drivers and really skilled babysitters are already working as nannies. That talent pool for Poppy may not exist, therefore, the problem may not be solvable.
Who is your customer?
- Not everyone.
- How often do they have the problem. Eg. car shopping websites’ customers don’t have a recurring problem (as buyers purchase cars every 7 years). Its the sellers/dealers that have the problem selling used cars.
- How intense is the problem? Do I have to go to the doctor and buy something? How often do you move towards that solution such as buying a car in lieu of taking a taxi?
- Are they willing to pay? If you have extremely intense problem, then a $100 product would be a great deal. A priced product is better than a free product.
- How easy are they to find? B2B customers can be easily reached in America. What channels? Email/ads, etc?
Does your MVP actually solve the problem?
- Build the MVP fast, and make sure you solve the customer’s problem.
- Give the MVP to customers as a test; if the customers don’t find it useful then its not useful. Products are not paintings.
Which customers should you go after first?
- Go after the easiest customers; not the hardest ones.
- The MVP is pretty much a shite prototype, therefore, the customers that use it the most are the most desperate ones; the early adopters. 6 month talks with a enterprise company usually means they aren’t desperate.
- Do not get product feedback from friends.
- Investors / friends don’t usually have the problem, their feedback will need you astray.
- Fire shite customers.
Should you discount or charge a low price?
- No. Unless there a structure behind the discount and pushes the user to purchasing the product.
How to use metrics?
- Google Analytics + something else eg. Mixpanel
- Google Analytics is not great for tracking actions; you need to track actions and events, not just page-views.
- Pick 5–10 important stats.
- Spec out the stats you are going to track and improve.
Product development cycle
- Write down the spec, as four devs have four different interpretations of the same idea.
- Short dev cycles
- Have a KPI goal; a number to track such as revenue and/or usage such as number of customers
- Open brainstorm. A real brainstorm is one that any idea that’s stated is written on the whiteboard. Thoughts or ideas were backed by metrics.
Brainstorms are sorted in 3 categories:
1. New features & iterations, bug fixes and A/B split tests
- Decide on an idea to do.
- Written spec: go through and write down in detail ‘what do mean by adding video filters, etc?’
- JustinTV had infrequent meetings, approximately two week cadences. Just get shit done.
Pivot vs Iterate
- Pivot = changing the customer and/or the problem (rare). This means you may need to start a new company.
- Iterate = changing the solution (common). Maybe MVP didn’t solve the problem? Solve the problem better.
- Identify the problem
- Don’t be fake Steve Jobs; iterate and talk to customers
- Ask specific what they want and make it.
You can checkout the Startup School page here.
You can view the Startup School 2018 playlist here.
Meet the Author
I'm William Chow, 24 year old kid from Sydney, Australia. One of my many passion is all things tech, startups & entrepreneurship. I work in a marketing tech startup and always keen to learn more. I'm also currently doing a grade cert in computing at UNSW. I regularly attend tech meetups & read a lot of books on startups. This blog will not only talk about startups, but also the latest tech gadgets, trendy tech news and basically anything related to tech!
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