Brandon Boynton is a current student at IUPUI and serial entrepreneur. This post is one in a series about the lessons he’s learned as a startup founder.
By Brandon Boynton, CEO, Vemity
5. Don’t build the product before the customer.
One of the biggest mistakes that I made with my most recent startup was building the product without enough customer input. My background is in computer science, specifically machine learning. When I started building our minimal viable product, or MVP, I was so confident that people would pay to use it. After all, we were building groundbreaking machine learning technology and putting it into an “as a service” system, which had never before been done. People would love it.
As it turns out, our original product was nothing any business would want to use. We built a product that was incredibly capable, yet far too technical for most executives to understand. We had plans to build a more user-friendly and simplified version of our system down the road; we nicknamed it “super easy mode.” As it turned out, that was what businesses were interested in.
I knew in that moment that the past six to nine months of development had been essentially wasted. A lot of the behind-the-scenes code could be reused, but there was certainly a lot of lost time. Before we even started building a product through mockups or an MVP, we should have been actively working alongside potential customers in our target market to hear their thoughts and learn from them.
You might think that you know exactly what your customers want, but you don’t. Until you receive feedback from a handful of potential customers, you have to be prepared to scrap everything and begin anew.
Next: Work hard.