- So, you have a nice product idea!
Just now·4 min read
In the last couple of years, I have worked as a Product Management Consultants, both with renowned agencies and independently. I have talked to more than 30 people who claimed to have an idea that could change the world or it would be a few million $ product — at least.
80% of those clients never get to launch a product or if they did it never made it past the beta. Almost a week ago, a marketing agency in San Francisco, CA who is in business since 2009 contacted me, which you can here. It was late in the night, 11:45 pm to be precise. I took the call mainly coz I work in the ET timezone anyway.
I kinda predicted what kind of call this is going to be. There wasn't much available in the details and our back and forth communication wasn't really productive so we landed to have a call to figure a ‘way forward’ from there. I logged in the zoom, dialed the link, saw a young guy Taylor rubbing his eyes (don't think it was early but he might have skipped coffee) — straight to business. No greetings, no weather updates, no politics, no sports, nothing. Business; and I loved it even though my usual calls are different.
He went ‘Hey, I got an idea and I think it a very nice idea’ (must have used a few other adjectives that I don't recall now) but I need you to sign an NDA first. So, we signed the NDA. He told me all about his idea — was it good? Maybe. Was it great? I don't think so but I am being told to be a pessimist, a lot! What followed was very usual for me and maybe for you as well. Once he finished describing everything he asked me a direct question (again, loving the straightforward attitude) What does it gonna cost me? And how quickly I can have that ready?
I smiled a little — he might have judged the sarcasm but let it go. And I thought about it for at least a few mins before saying ‘No, I don't know what it's going to cost you and no I can't tell you how long it will take to be built.’ Awkward silence! Why? He asked. And I began with the explanation that prompted me to write a post here.
Building a product is creative work. If you only think that creativity is limited to the designers — both UI/UX and graphics, then let me tell you, you are wrong, very wrong. You never know what might end up tackling and you never know what sort of a beast you might need to tame for a particular product to be built. In a world full of unknowns, you cant give estimates — at least not this early. The reason is very simple. You don't know what do you need to do and you don't know what the complexity is going to look like. He nodded along with his ‘so my idea isn't special’ face. Which was purely unintentional, I never said that.
I continued talking and continued nodding.
30 mins up but there was a lot I wanted to tell him. He asked me what the process usually looks like. If I can just walk him through that, he’ll appreciate it a lot. So, I did. And here it is.
We need to put together the features you want to have in the product. Group them, sort them, have them mocked up and designed, tag them with Must-have, nice to have, and could have. Must-have will define our MVP, Minimum Viable Product. I spend 5 mins explaining what that is and why it's super necessary to have it figured out this early. Then I rambled a little about incremental releases and all the fuss about agile development. He was losing it, I can sense it. He lost it completely when I began talking about product validation techniques and I swear I only talked about focus group testing.
The call ended, I billed him $150. He never contacted me again. I did a follow-up email. And he replied
‘Thanks for clearing a lot of things up. After our call, I did some validation and as it turned out there's thousands of product doing exactly the same. So, I think I am too late. Thanks.
Did you see the problem? You might be encountering this all the time. So, all I did was provide him some context and help him un-stuck himself. That project would have been a disaster had it gone through!
- Date of publication:
- Thu, 11/25/2021 - 10:48
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