[Edit Notes: Developers often jump into coding before thinking of what exactly is going to be built. In this post, Parag Arora takes a look at what could go wrong and how you could avoid it.]

In the initial days after I passed out from IIT, used to have dozens of business plans everyday, and was already working on few of them in a given month. Later I realised those were not business plans but cool ideas, that’s all. After I was done coding, I was hardly able to find users of my app except myself for couple of days. End result is a failed startup – failure will come very soon and is much assured to come. Series of startups, at one time also made me think I should start a consulting outsourcing businesses. Happens.

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Then came a little matured stage when idea of solving problems was the key. This was a stage when I was actively looking to find problems in ecosystems and came up with solutions rather discussing with people who are facing problems. End result is a failed startup. You try to articulate reasons for failure but the reason is it was not built for anyone. Your product was a solution to a problem but a solution which was not desirable. Its an assured failed startup too. Know before you fail what you missed in your product.

Then came an interesting stage. A stage where I knew I came up with ideas which are also solutions to some problems, problems not that big but interesting to have solutions of. Identifying problems for which people were not actively looking for solutions but were surprised and excited to find solutions. There were users. I could name those users when I am coding. I had that amazing feeling while working and much more reasons to work now. But the competitors were growing fast, my product lacked somewhere. Problem was solved, but there were too many solutions already. I created and showed people the problem, and was outrun before I could even imagine this would happen. Obviously I lacked somewhere. The answer was sales. Interestingly it was always sales. Even the user requirements gathering, design elements, product delivery, money collection, user on boarding, user retention, competition watch – everything is part of sales. Naming a user and selling to that named users are two different things. But with a good procedure followed to name your users, idea evolution to product is a stronger process for your startup.

There comes the need for Art of naming your users. I will not be covering (and can not cover) selling to users here as there can not be set of points which can help since sales is majorly a mindset thing. Process goes as below:

  1. Name your most influential user or to be user.
  2. How does this user look like? Who all are in his family? Who all are his friends? Is it possible that one of them can be your potential user too? What does his life looks like before your idea?
  3. How exactly will he learn about your product?
  4. What exactly will you offer this user? What exactly you will mention in your email to him if you get his email id to make it super simple, small yet interesting enough for him to use your product.
  5. What exactly will trigger him to chose your product. Give one point.
  6. How much will he pay you? How and exactly when he will pay you?
  7. How will he exactly receive your product? Draw the complete flow from the moment he will pay you and till comes onboard. What could go wrong? List everything here.
  8. After product is delivered to him, how would his life be like? Would he keep using your product or quickly get to a point where he might lose interest after using it for 3 days. How would you bring him back?

Jump into coding only once you answer these questions with a concrete survey. Good luck!


[About the Author: Parag Arora is the Co-Founder Plustxt, a messaging app startup which was acquired by One97. Arora is an IITD Grad and a Multiplatform hacker. He blogs here.]

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