TECH & INNOVATION

The tech start up company tips for success.

Jerry Staple

AUTHOR

Jerry Staple

Technical Director
Technology , Innovation, the Future

It has never been easier to set up and launch a tech-based business. I think it is a combination of the following factors which has created a huge appetite for young aspiring tech entrepreneurs all over the world to start a tech based company:

  •  Global Recession
  •  Introduction of smartphones
  • Low cost of entry to tech
  •  Investment & Funding

Over the last number of years I have been heavily involved in tech product development for start up companies. During this time I have learnt some valuable lessons that I would like to share.

1. What problem is my product solving?

There has to be a purpose or need for your product therefore ask yourself what problem is my product / service solving or who is it helping?

2.Who is your customer?

It is a common mistake that entrepreneurs are so caught up in their idea they overlook a fundamental step of starting a business and fail to identify their customers. On countless occasions I have witnessed entrepreneurs making products or creating services with no clear purpose or products that customers do not actually want therefore it is imperative that you identify your customers / target audiences!

3. Market Research: Do YourHomework

It is important to get as much feedback as possible. Avoid asking friends and family what they think of your idea, as no one will want to offend you and as a result you will not get accurate feedback. Set up unbiased focus groups, of your target customers, as it is these people who will help you shape your idea and tell you how good or bad it is.

Years ago I was very stubborn and thought that I always knew best however maturity has taught me to talk to as many people as I possibly can. People will be tuned in at a different level and look at your idea with a different angle than yourself. Drop the pride, encourage and embrace feedback and use it to your advantage.

4. Revenue: How is the product going to make money?

There is going to come a time when your product needs to stand on its own two feet. You need to ask yourself how is my product going to make money in the long term. Revenue is fundamental, if the product cannot sustain itself, it will fail. It is very rare that a product will turn a profit or even cover its cost in the short term but it will inevitably have to sustain itself if it is to have long term success. So look at revenue streams such as a subscription, licence or even and advertising type models.

5. Product Budget Angry Birds for £500?

Set yourself a realistic budget for the design and development of your product. If you have a £500 budget then don’t expect to get Angry Birds! Be upfront about the budget, as most reputable companies will work with you to develop the best product they can, in line with your budget or at least give you a realistic expectation of what you can expect for your budget.

6. Source a Reputable Experienced Company.

If you are going to be commissioning the building of your own product then you need to get an understanding of how software / app development companies go about it. Research, go to events, in order to identify the top companies in the market then try to speak with a number of them as it will help you gain a better understanding, of the product development process, and even help you formulate your product.

Beware!!!

I have witnessed a large number of tech start-ups which failed to get off the ground due to the incompetence of appointed company or sole developer.

There are many developers out there who operate from their bedrooms with low overhead costs and a lack of industry experience. The developer may seem like a cheap alternative when it comes to developing a product. When you are looking at the bottom line this may seem like an enticing proposition however it is a big gamble and you are betting your whole venture on this individual. Once they have taken a large sum of money from you and you find that the developed product is unfit for purpose then it doesn’t seem like such a wise move. Don’t get me wrong there are some great freelancers out there, but with a freelancer you will not get the same assurances, accountability or combined knowledge as in a reputable experienced company brings.

7. Managing the Product Project Management

For the management of the product I would strongly advise to avail of an experienced project manager. Project managers are worth their weight in gold and quite often stem from a tech background and are experts at translating requirements, communicating and ultimately managing the day to day running of the project. Developers can quite literally be talking in a different language however the project manager is a great middle man that can decipher developer jargon and translate it into terms that the client will understand. The project manager is multi lingual and can also translate the client requirements into technical jargon.

I would strongly advise to adopt an Agile rather than a Waterfall project management methodology this means that the project is developed in small chunks.

Get to know the following words/phrases, as they will serve you well.

  • Lean
  •  Kaizen
  • Just Enough
  •  Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

8. Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

MVP will allow you to develop the product with just enough features and release to a selected group of users allowing you to monitor and receive valuable feedback to gauge the effectiveness and adapt the product accordingly

The benefits of MVP is that it will allow you to release just enough features and functionality which will keeps the product development lean which in turn is saving you time and money.

9. Beta Test

For a tech based start up product testing is vital as first impressions do count and you get one chance to make a good first impression. The development company will assist but ultimately it is your responsibility to conduct and carry out User Acceptance Testing (UAT) to ensure that the development company has delivered what they said they would.

Consider and learn about the following types of software testing:

  •  User Acceptance testing (UAT)

Testing to ensure that the product does what is says on the tin. Carried out by the product owner or subject matter expert (SME).

  •  Alpha Testing

Testing by potential users at the developer’s site.

  • Beta testing

External testing carried out by a selected audience outside of the development team.

Once the testing has been carried out you can execute the first release.
10. Release

For a new innovative product the window of opportunity is very small and time is of the essence therefore it is imperative that the product is developed and executed in a short space of time.

It is better to be quicker to market with a version (MVP) of your app than to wait for your entire feature set to be developed. Use MVP to Release Early, Release Often (RERO) as by prolonging the development could mean missing the window of opportunity.

Unfortunately that is just the start and you will have to launch and start marketing the product along with all the other 101 things that go with a tech start up. However I hope this article has given you some insight into tech product development.

There has never been a better time to launch a tech based start up and never has there been more Venture Capital, funding and grant options. But remember there is no such thing as free money, so whilst there will be willing investors out there they will all expect a healthy return on their investment.

Jerry Staple

Technical Director of Origin

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