Involve users in your development process

Startup mentor, entrepreneur and angel investor Tadej Muršič from the company Andivi, fascinated guests of the second startup workshop about product development.

Key takeaways:
  • We should form an opinion about the problem our product is solving, only after we meet with users.
  • Make things people want, rather than make people want things.
  • The problem will not be solved in the office, you have to go out of the building.
  • »Post-it notes« are the best design tool

Tadej showed us a variety of problems facing startups when developing products. For example, product managers often only hear themselves and their opinions echo in a product, without checking assumptions with the user. This creates a so-called »Echo chamber«. A far more extreme continuation of this phenomenon is called a »Flame War«. In this case, the product manager things that he knows exactly what the user wants and arguments it until the end, even to the extent that he goes into long and time wasting disagreements with co-workers, just for the sake of the argument.
When developing a product it is imperative that we understand the problem that we are solving and that we research whether this is indeed a pain for our users. Therefore we have to check the market as soon as possible. A general rule of thumb is that at least 100 user interviews have to be done, so we can see what they want. 

The general rules of user interviews:
  • Interviews have to be qualitative, meaning they have to focused on user's explanations, opinions, and motivations.
  • Interviews have to be focused on the discovery of the core that solves the user's pain.
  • Interviews have to aim to collect the behavior of users, not just assumptions about our product.
  • We never present our product and talk hypothetically: »Would you use this feature..?«, because due to the basic human psychology of wanting to please fellow humans.
Further on in the product development cycle we have to create a persona of our typical user. This helps us make key decisions about the product. Tadej clearly explained how to do achieve this.

Later, when we are close to an MVP, it is important to realize that it is better to not offer the product to the whole market and all industries that might differ in use all at once. Rather it is much wiser to test our hypothesis on one niche or vertical, where we can completely solve the core user pain. Only after we see how the product is welcomed on the market by users should we add other verticals. It often happens that we develop products with hundreds of functions that are meant to please everyone, but at the same time are not meant for anyone specifically. Thus we have again developed a product for no one. It is important to realize that a product with a plethora of functions is not necessarily the best.
»Having a product with fewer functions means they all have to be great.«

»Subtract the obvious and add the meaningful.«

»Perseverance is the most important thing in entrepreneurship. This means you push through everything. That you keep going. That when you run out of money, you find something else to do to make money. That you pivot. That you do whatever it takes for your idea to live on and become a reality.« Tadej Muršič

After the workshop, the ambient moved to Kibla, where Goran Krajačić of Vsenet marketing, Nika Ferš of Quotelife and Tomaž Štefančič of Trgokooperant talked about web shops that sell. They covered everything from the foundations of the shop, to the design and maintenance, as well as how to increase sales and how a web shop can be optimized for search engines. At the end they highlighted that more than 60% of Slovenians still have never done an online purchase, meaning that this business has a great potential in Slovenia.

Author: Nataša Rus, 16.11.2016
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