A few weeks ago I shared my goal of launching a software product. Since then I’ve brainstormed problems, researched markets, and generally tested ideas about what type of company I want to create. Here’s my first experiment:

Customer interview automation for product managers (landing page here)

Product managers rely on customer interviews to understand pain points and validate potential solutions. But, in my experience, the process of scheduling customer interviews takes almost as much time as doing the interviews. My product will automate the interview logistics, so all you have to do is show up.

If you’re a product manager or designer that could use something like this, you can sign up for early access here: www.savvycx.com.

My process

As I start building this product, my goal is to follow advice that will help me increase the odds of success, or decrease the odds of failure.

Here are some of the key pieces of advice that I plan to follow:

1. Build something that you want. If you make something that solves a problem for you, it will inevitably solve the same problem for other people. I’m sure many people have said this but I’ve heard it most clearly and consistently from Paul Graham, investor and co-founder of YCombinator, and he’s written about it here.

2. Build something that has proven demand in the market. Or, to put it another way, build a product that you know people are already paying for. It is much easier to grow a company when people are already looking for your product, rather than having to convince them they need your product. Justin Jackson, co-founder of TransistorFM, has written here and here and I agree that this principle will significantly increase the odds of success.

3. You don’t need to build for the Fortune 500 — build something for the “Fortune 5,000,000.” This is one of several pieces of advice from David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails and the co-founder of Basecamp. His point is that there are millions of small businesses that you can solve problems for and you can build a good business by solving those problems. Along those lines, he also says that if you have just over 2,000 customers paying you $40 per month, that’s $1 million in revenue per year.

4. Test ideas with an MVP before investing in significant development. This has become a foundational principle most likely due to the success of Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup, or at the very least that’s where I first learned about it. Luckily there are many no-code tools including Webflow.com, Bubble.is, GlideApps, Draftbit, etc. that make it incredibly easy to build working software without coding anything.

What’s next?

  • If you’re a product manager or designer that regularly interviews customers, I’d love to learn more about your process. Can we chat?
  • If you have advice about the process of starting a bootstrapped company, let me know! I need all the help I can get!
  • If you’re also starting something, let’s connect! It’s fun to compare notes to stay motivated.

 

Max Ogles

Hi, I'm Max Ogles. I'm a behavior designer, entrepreneur, and writer focused on psychology, technology, and business. Read My Full Bio