This article is written to address the dilemma most product guys face on taking up entrepreneurship. Having gone through this dilemma myself, I learnt the solution to get out of this dilemma the hard way. Now, looking back I can connect the dots and am able to see similarity between the approach I took and the approach taken by many successful modern businesses.
Getting straight to the solution
To create a product first get some business. By business I mean, ask your target group about the problem they have in the area you want to focus on. Ask them to allow you to serve them with a service that traditionally resolves the problem. Resolve the problem and take money in return. Now, use this solution to serve many other similar clients. Once you have a successful business around it, start automating the process and you will have a product ready. Most successful businesses today had knowingly or unknowingly taken this approach in their starting years.
Oyo was Oravel first, a sort of Bed and Breakfast service. Practo was earlier making software solutions for individual doctors. Ola was a travel agency first. The startup I am working with, a talent discovery product, had to eventually take the services route to understand the problem better and design a value adding product that started generating revenue.
Technology comes second, business comes first. This approach reduces risk of failure in designing a valid solution and increases the probability of building a successful product. If you are planning to build a product, or are already building a product but answers aren’t coming easily, then start by the traditional solution and answers will start flowing in.
The problem with most product guys is that they don’t want to give services a try. For them, it’s your choice to remain a product guy or become a busines person.
Product guys earn salaries, business people earn revenue.
If you agree to this approach, would like to hear your experience below. If you disagree, please share your point of view now.