Practical Advice for Bringing a New Product to Market

Do you have an idea for a new product or service? One that gets you so excited you have to turn it into reality? Do you run the numbers and it makes you dizzy or unable to stop giggling?

At Atomic Object, we know how that feels. We were once a startup, and like others we made a few mistakes along the way. This is why we now publish what we know (both successes and failures) and continue to learn from others.

At a recent D-NewTech Meetup, Dan Izzo (Director of Product Development at Fathead, Inc.) gave some excellent advice for anyone trying to start a new company or developing a product outside their current expertise. I was impressed by how practical his advice seemed and can attest to its value based on our own experience. For those not able to watch his entire presentation (starting at about the six minute mark), here’s a quick summary of his major points.

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Minimum Viable Product or Mediocre Value Prop?

Scott Anthony highlights the importance of building a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) compelling enough to steer clear of becoming a mediocre value proposition:

Sometimes, though, a Minimal Viable Product turns into a Mediocre Value Proposition. A company might introduce a product in the marketplace. A few customers find it interesting (you can always find a few customers). Results fall short of expectations, but the company says, “Well, it’s just a minimal viable product for learning.” The company makes a few tweaks, scales up spending . . . and falls flat on its face.

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Getting the Most for Your Money

We do a lot of things when we meet potential clients. Assuming we mutually determine that Atomic is a good match to the project, the conversation eventually ends up at how much the project will cost. The shallow answer (“as little as possible”) is correct, but not very useful. We put the following outline together to suggest a more actionable approach that avoids a major risk and achieves the goal of maximizing the product created for our client’s investment.

1. Know the Impact of Your Project

Our clients generally build software to generate revenues or reduce expenses. If the client doesn’t know how much money can be earned or saved by a successful project, then it will be difficult to determine whether the project makes business sense regardless of what it might cost. Building a model requires understanding the business and the project being considered. Sometimes we work as consultants to help with this work. Read more on Getting the Most for Your Money…

The Iron Chef’s Killer Feature or Building Flavourful Software

Let’s start with a pop-quiz.

Quick — name five name-brand portable audio players excluding Apple's iPod.

How many did you come up with? Probably not many. Now try this — do a Google search for “iPod killer“. The number of devices that have been crowned king-of-the-hill before they even hit the market is staggering. As Rob Malda of Slashdot infamously quipped when the iPod was first introduced, "No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame."

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Quitting your Day Job

One of the many questions we ask entrepreneurs who are interested in our product development services is whether they are quitting their day job. Lack of an affirmative response to this question is one of the reasons we’ll decline to invest in their idea. Even when we’re not being asked to invest we strongly caution entrepreneurs on the risk of spending significant money on software unless they’re able to match that investment with their time.

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