Episode #13 - Market Research & Customer Feedback

Behind the Screens #7: The 3 most common mistakes we see startup founders make

We talk to a lot of early stage founders looking to build businesses around a tech product. In having many of these conversations over the last decade, we’ve learnt to look out for some early indicators as to whether someone has the right business mindset to make it work. This week, Nic and Nathalie sit down to talk about some common mistakes they’ve seen early stage founders make when it comes to getting their product off the ground.


The first one, and it’s a biggie, is conducting bad or no market research and relying on a hunch that your product will be successful. Running with your gut is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re hiring a technical agency, or a marketing agency, you’ll be paying other people to help you with your product. On a limited startup budget, it’s vital that this money is an investment on which you’ll see a return. Without the research, it’s likely this money will be wasted.


Research not just about your idea, or the problem you’re solving. You need to understand the market: how much money can be made in it, current and future trends, and your customers: how they behave, who they are, how they are currently solving the problem and how your product will fit into their lives.  All of this will feed into what you are building, and can be the pivotal difference between having a good idea, and building a successful business.


Once your idea has some research behind it, it’s time to think about the specifics of building. Here, we typically see two scenarios: an incredibly detailed and complex feature list across a 70+ page document, or we’re presented with just one core idea with little thought given to what needs to be built around it. They key, again, is research! If you want to implement a feature outside of the core idea, you need to be certain it will make your users’ lives better. It’s important to keep in mind that when you launch your MVP, it’s not the end of the road – it’s the start of the journey. Some founders feel they aren’t ready to launch if their app isn’t big enough, sexy enough or complex enough. You will build on your core features for years to come.


Then, when your product has been released into the world, it’s feedback time. You’ll be hitting ‘go’ on all those marketing activities you had lined up, and hopefully start making money as those early adopters come rolling in. It’s key that you’re proactive here – don’t assume customers will provide feedback without you asking. Nic & Nat share their top tips on collecting that feedback, and how to tread the fine line between implementing what your users want without obsessing over and trying to accommodate every single response. It’s important to take the time to move with your users and grow your product incrementally.


Join the conversation on the CookiesHQ Twitter. Head over to LinkedIn to find out more on Nic and Nat.

 

Read the transcript

Nic:
Hello and welcome to the Tough Cookies podcast. It’s a new episode of our Behind The Screen series, where Nat and I sit down and discuss about what’s happening in the CookiesHQ world. How are you, Nat?

Nic:
Ooh, hang on. I forgot the sound. How are you, Nat?

Nathalie:
Hello. I’m okay, thank you.

Nic:
I’m terrible at managing those levels. How was your week?

Nathalie:
It was good. What happened this week? A lot of my time was spent on a project and also, I’m preparing the onboarding of a new project manager who we’ve just recruited.

Nic:
That’s exciting.

Nathalie:
That’s really exciting. I like onboarding new people in the team, so something to look forward to.

Nic:
I like, as well, because we have to prepare new laptops and it’s like the smell of a new laptop, the smell of something clean and completely fresh and working almost fast is pretty good.

Nathalie:
Yeah. How about you? How was your week?

Nic:
We’re pretty positive after the whole COVID thing. I think the market’s waking up, so we are talking to quite a few people at the moment, which leads me to what I wanted to talk about today with you. So I had a few chats this week with early stage founders and I find myself talking about the same thing again and again. And most of the time, we get contacted by early stage founders, that are looking to build a technical start-up, but they don’t have any technical capability, obviously, that’s why we’re here to help. But they have knowledge about the industry. And it’s very interesting how quickly you can make if the person is serious or not, almost. Have they… Do they have the business mindset that it takes to create a product or not, basically? So I thought we could go with a top three of the big problem that we spotted over the past 10 years, working with those early stage founders.

Nic:
And for me, the problem number one, which is I think at the very tough, a lot of things is sometime, you find people that have done, either a bad market research or they haven’t done any market research at all. They’re going with their hunch or they’re going with their guts, which is not to say that it’s bad, but I think, when you’re a developer, if I was going with, “I have an idea and I think there is a product here,” as a developer, I could waste time and it’s my time and I could waste it to go and do it. But if you’re paying somebody like Cookies to do your product based on a hunch, I think that’s where we’re going to start to dig a little bit deeper and maybe scratch where it hurts and make sure that we are going to help you doing this market research. And usually, you’re the person most involved in that part. So what’s your view on that and how can we ensure or how can we help people to make better market research?

Nathalie:
I think when they come to us, and it goes back to, you say, and you can see when serious is not being serious in terms of with what they want to achieve, I think it’s how much market research they’ve done. And it’s not just talking to their family and friends about it, and to get someone to say, “Yes, you’ve got a good idea.” It’s actually understanding everything around it and it’s the difference between having an idea that you want to get done, and having and setting up a business. Because at the end of the day, as you said, when you hire an agency, whether a tech agency, a marketing agency, anyone to do some work for you, you’re going to pay these people. And you want to make sure it’s an investment and not just money thrown away, especially when you’re a starter founder, because you have a very limited budget.

Nathalie:
So I think the main difficulty for founders is to understand that it’s not just about having a valid idea, a problem to solve, you also need to understand the market it’s going in, how big the market is and how much money you can make out of it. And also, understand the customers, how they behave, who they are, do they actually face that problem? Have you talked to people who face that problem? How do they solve it currently? Because all of this will then give you clues as to what you should be building, and I think you need to answer a lot of questions before you even think about how the app should be built or the product should be built. It’s uncovering a lot of this.

Nathalie:
And I think when we get together with start-up founders, and they haven’t done their research, it’s really visible really quickly because you’re going to ask questions about who should we target and how did they use the technology? Are they tech savvy or are they not? How do they solve the problem currently, so what apps are they currently using or are they not currently using any apps? And if so, how are you going to convince them to use starting an app to solve this problem? How often are they using their phone or laptop? Or are they actually on laptop or phones? Because that will dictate how you design your product. It’s all these little questions. And if they haven’t done their research, then you’ll quickly see that actually, they’re not ready to build the app yet. And there’s more research to be made before you can even design or build anything.

Nic:
So one of the… I think, for me, one of the things I see the most are people that are passionate about their own solutions and they’re not passionate about the problem they’re trying to solve. And they have this, sometimes, amazing idea. It feels in the paper like an amazing idea. And I think I got guilty of that when, a few years ago, I tried to build my own product. I thought I had… And I’m going to use myself as an example here, because I’ve made all those mistakes. I thought I had a grand idea of building this product that we were going to call Digestive Cookies, Digestive… you get it. And so it was made to be a product that we would use in an agency and also sell to other agencies. But rather than talking to other people, I went with my hunch and I went with, “Ah, I think there’s something there,” and it’s not even “I think,” it’s “There is something there. It’s going to be a great product.”

Nic:
But I was completely blinded by this lesion and the only thing I was talking about is what the product would do, rather than what the product would solve for the users. And I think that’s the biggest difference here, is when people approach us with, “We want a product that does ABC,” and there is no explanation of why ABC needs to exist for the end user or for the customers, that’s a big red flag.

Nathalie:
Yeah. We’ll usually question it at that point. It’s like why do you want to build ABC and what’s the reason behind it? And what is that going to do to your users, because… And it’s not to say that we are going to question everything. And it doesn’t mean that there isn’t an answer, a very valid answer for these and it’s absolutely fine. But I guess for us, it’s uncovering that, if you want a future, but you don’t have a reason why you want that future, and even more so, if it’s a future that’s going to take a long time to build and be, therefore, quite expensive, is there not another way of doing it? Or is there not a better thing to build instead? So everything that you should do, you build into the future should have a rationale. And you should be able to justify it as an investment, and you shouldn’t just build something because you want to build it, which is what you did with Digestive. You built features because you wanted them, but without probably having a reason why you wanted all that in the first place.

Nic:
No, that’s entirely true. And I think I got guilty of my second big red flag, which is when people would say, “We’re going to educate the market.” I don’t think you can educate the market, especially we’re using apps and things like that. So no, you’re not, you’re never going to educate the market. The market is going to choose to use your app. The market is going to choose to use your product or service. But you are never gong to educate the market of changing their behaviour just for your app.

Nathalie:
No, you can disrupt things. And you can try and bring in new habits, and it does work for some, but it’s very rare. And that’s not what you should aim for. I think you need to aim for understanding how people behave in the first place and then see how you would fit as a business and as an app, how you would fit in their lives, in their everyday lives. Is it something they need to do, they want you that want them to do everyday? Is it something you want them to use once in a while? Is it… How does that fit in everyone’s life? Because everyone is very busy. No one has the time to do anything. We’re all using our phones a lot, but we’re also all very distracted, so we use it on the go. We have five minutes here and there. So how does your app and how do you fit in your users’ life? I think that’s the main question.

Nic:
So if we have a start-up founders listening today, and they are at this stage where they have an idea, they probably realized they haven’t done enough market research or not at all and, by market research, I mean, if the only person you’ve talked to are family and friends, that’s not market research. We’re talking about building a proper group of people that you talked to, that you probably done beforehand, what would be your biggest recommendation for them? What would be your recommendation of them like what’s the next step to do?

Nathalie:
For me, there are two ways to go about it, and it depends on the what you want to build and what you’re trying to solve. For some products, you can get away with a questionnaire, and actually go to Facebook groups or Twitter or LinkedIn groups, or wherever your users are, and you can try and circulate that questionnaire as much as you can. Be really careful when you formulate the questions and it needed to be crafted carefully to make sure that you get the answers that you need.

Nathalie:
The other way is to build a prototype, because sometimes, it’s just the questionnaire is not enough. And it’s really hard to explain to someone what you’re going to do. For some products, it’s clear that you need to put something in front of the eyes of someone, and get them to either use it now… A prototype doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be very simple on paper, even. It could be a design prototype, if you want to put something that’s just a few pages designed to see what the reaction is. It could be, I don’t know, something done with Spreadsheet, or with Keynote, or… I mean, a prototype can take many, many forms, or it could be an HTML prototype, like a very simple, basic website. But something for the users to actually interact with, and then they can give you their feedback.

Nathalie:
And it’s hard right now, because we can’t really go to coffee shops that we used to and get people to use something on a laptop or a tablet. You’d buy them a coffee and ask them for 10 minutes of their time and a lot of people would do that. Now, it’s a bit tricky at the moment with the whole COVID situation, because you can’t really do that anymore. But I’m hoping that maybe you’ll be able to do that very soon, so it’s being creative.

Nathalie:
With the whole point is, because you’re trying to still validate the market and the idea and the problem, go really cheap, but think carefully about what you’re trying to achieve, have an objective in mind and try to answer the question, “Is my market big enough? Are my customers there? Are they actually ready to use my product? And is my problem valid? Or, is it just a problem that I have? Because if it’s just one that you, personally have, and no one else sees that problem, you’re never going to make a business out of it.

Nic:
Yeah. So when internally, when we build prototypes for clients, we follow that process called Design Sprints , where the official Design Sprints is supposed to go from problem to prototype in a week. We usually take a little bit longer than that, just because there’s a lot of back and forth and the proper sprints, the proper Design Sprints requires everybody to be in the same room for almost a week, basically. So we typically take two weeks to get from problem to prototype, but there are ways. We, obviously, we have ways. But there are ways to build prototype quickly that only goes straight to the point of, “Will, somebody presented with the solution get to do what I want them to do?”

Nic:
On the other side, we also have the infamous examples of Dropbox or Buffer, where, the only thing they did was build a webpage with a button that says “I want this kind of thing,” and based on the amount of apps they put out there, based on the content they put out there, people were going to that page and they were clicking the button, meaning for them, that the answer was “Yes, people want that, basically.” So there are multiple ways.

Nic:
I think my recommendation would be to take the time to read the book. It’s one of my favorite book. And I think everybody that is at the early stage of a founder or a founder-type thing or idea, should really take the time to read it. The book is called The Mom Test, it’s available in Amazon. It’s written by somebody called Rob Fitzpatrick. And it’s a very short book, probably like I don’t know, 100, 150 pages. And the takeaway is really… or the story of the book is how to talk to people about their problem, not about your solution.

Nic:
And I think that the overall theme of the book is that if you ask your mom if your idea is a good idea, she would, obviously, say yes, because she doesn’t want you to feel that you’re going to be a failure. So the idea is, do not talk about the solution that you’re trying to provide, do not say, “Hey, I have an idea of a product that would do XYZ,” but ask them about, “Look, if you are presented with this problem or today, I can see that you are having this problem, how are you solving it?” Chances are that people solve their problem naturally themselves, but you have to understand how they’re doing it today, and how your solution will fit, and how your solution will actually help them be more efficient or make things better when they solve that particular problem. So that would be my recommendation, is this book called The Mom Test from Rob Fitzpatrick. It’s available everywhere, but really, really good book.

Nic:
Now, essentially, they’ve done their market research and now it feels like there’s something here. There is a product to be built. And inevitably, when we move to the next step, we see people being a bit lost, like they have a core problem and have a lot of satellite ideas, satellite features. And most of the time, we see people coming to us with, “Hey, we want ABC. It would be great as well if we could do DEFG up to Z, basically.”

Nic:
Now, there is something that has always been at the core of what we do, which is… It’s not about the amount of money that people are ready to spend. We are trying what we’re here to build a meaningful product. And I hate waste in all sorts, whether that’s waste in our house, or in everything we do. And I hate wasted code. I hate building something that is not going to be in use.

Nic:
So another big problem is this idea of what are you going to build? When is it time to stop? And when is it time to say, “No, this is more like a Phase 2. This is more like a Phase 3. This is more like a Phase 24 kind of feature.” I think we need to concentrate with only the core features, and then launch. So internally, we develop this idea of called the Pragmatic Launch, where we’ll try to develop any product within the 12-16 weeks time frame. And by framing the time and by fixing the time, we have a natural limit in what we can humanly build. But yes, we work hard, yes we are pragmatic and yes, we are fast in what we do, but still, 16 weeks to go from idea to product is not a lot. And therefore, all the product that we build are typically smaller than what you would find in other agencies. But then, we scale based on user feedback.

Nic:
But how do you feel when you get somebody that come to us and they say, “Look, I have these 72 pages document that details everything that I want my app to do”?

Nathalie:
Yeah, it’s quite common, isn’t it? I think it’s either extreme relief, it’s either people come to us with a lot of features in their mind and very, very detailed plan, to the point where it’s too much, and you have to, again, sit down with them and talk through it. Or they come with just one idea, and then they ask you what they should build around it. There’s rarely a middle ground.

Nathalie:
When they come with too much, it’s almost easier, because all you need to do and yes, you have to read that massive document and then sift through what they’re trying to achieve. And actually, most of the time, you’re not going to get there by reading the document. You can get to it in five minutes by talking to them and actually be like, “Okay, what are you trying to do? Why are you trying to do it? And what should your app do?” And if they can summarise that in a few sentences, then that’s why you’re building and that’s where you should start.

Nathalie:
And then you think about the features that you absolutely need to get that done. And yeah, as you said, you can’t have million features around it. It has to be the core of it. And then you can start thinking about the nice-to-haves or you need to think about it in terms of what would make the users’ life better or easier, or what makes sense, what doesn’t make sense. And again, you need, every time, you need to go back to market research, because if you want to implement something, you need to be able to back it up with data and research. You can’t just add something because… Well, you can just add something because you like it, but it wouldn’t make much sense, would it? If it’s everything that we do, we’re going to be pragmatic.

Nathalie:
And sometimes, you have these one or two things that you really want to add and then you’re not too sure. And that’s fine. But these should be the exception and these shouldn’t take too long to build. I think you need to be pragmatic about how long the things are going to take to build. Because in an agency like ours, and I’m guessing in a lot of agencies, we bill our time on the… we bill our time. So it’s just the more time we spend building things, the more you’re going to pay. It’s as simple as that. So yeah, sometimes, if something is really big and actually, you’re not too sure, it doesn’t really make sense. You can leave it for later.

Nathalie:
And the whole point is to understand that what you’re building at the start is just the start, and is the core product. But you’re going to build on it and improve it for years to come. When you launch your MVP, it’s not the end of the road, it’s the start of the journey. And I guess it’s keeping that in mind. But sometimes, founders feel like they’re not ready to launch, because it’s not big enough, or because it’s not showing you enough, or because, actually, it’s not doing everything that it should. It doesn’t matter, because what you’re launching as an MVP, should help you to validate your market and find your first customers, your early adopters. And from there, with their feedback, then you build on it. But it’s only the start of the journey. And I think that’s one of the mistakes that’s often made.

Nic:
Yeah.

Nathalie:
MVP is not going to make you millions.

Nic:
No, no, no. The MVP is certainly not the end product and the product will evolve, the product will scale with you and your users and your knowledge of the market. And sometimes, it will pivot. It will completely change where you’re going. We’ve seen that with Good Sixty, for example. They were catering for two different markets in the marketplace. They were catering for the local retailers, versus the café, delis and these kind of things and bringing sandwiches and all that. And actually, they pivoted very rapidly towards actually, we’re only going to work with the local traders, the local retailers, because that’s what people want. People… Like if you want to have ready-made food, you already have plenty of options, basically.

Nic:
So I think that’s one of my… It’s one of my favorite parts in Cookies is this idea of we do those discovery session, and it’s this idea of we spend a day with the founders in the same room, and together, we are going to deconstruct completely the app. We’re are going to start with, “Okay, go on. Do the pitch. Where do you want to go? Where is your market and all that?” And from there, with your knowledge of the market, and our knowledge of the tech, we’re all going to deconstruct, one by one, every single feature. What do they need to do? When do we need to stop?

Nic:
A feature can always be extended, can always be as complex as you like. And actually, our role is really to say, “That’s needed. That’s needed. That’s not needed. That’s needed to be taken in consideration for the future.” There’s a lot of those features here that are like, “We’re not going to build that now,” but we want to make sure that when we come to it, we are not shooting ourselves in the foot by making the wrong decision on the early stage of the product.

Nic:
So I think that’s one. That is really one of my favourite part is removing the waste, cutting the fat and going straight to the point of, “Okay, I think at the end of the day, or at the end of the couple of reflection days, we now have a clear vision of what the product is going to do, how it’s going to function, and then, we have a clear idea of where the product is going to be in the future. What are going to be the features that we need to consider for the future? But we’re not building those right now. We’re only going to concentrate on doing that small thing extremely well.”

Nic:
And I just love the reaction of like, actually, when people realise that they wanted feature DEF and now, they realise that when we told them that no, obviously, we don’t need a VR Showroom right now for our new rental place marketplace, for example. Yes, this is something that could possibly be there in the future, but now is not the time. The time is onto something else, because you are not a VR marketplace, you are something else. You are trying to rent flats, for example.

Nathalie:
That’s where the whole partnership because that doesn’t stop after that discovery session. It’s something that’s ongoing, in terms of product strategy and how we work with the client. They know their market, they should know their customers, but we know apps, we know tech, and we’ve worked with start-ups for years now. And so we also know what to expect and we know what works and what doesn’t work. We’ve worked with start-ups who have succeeded and others who have failed. So we’ve been through it before and whatever you’re building, there’s a chance that we’ve done some of it, if not, all of it already. And I guess it’s understanding that we come with knowledge as well and we’ve experienced and putting that all together, I think, is quite powerful. And being able to work on the product strategy with the client, and really brainstorming things together and brainstorming user research and market research together is really, really interesting. And it’s what makes it interesting to me as well.

Nic:
And it doesn’t have, it doesn’t mean that your initial product or your MVP has to be extremely small. It just means that it has to have only the things that are valuable for every single user. I mean, I think the most complex product to build and the biggest MVPs that you can think of are marketplaces, because by definition, a marketplace doesn’t have two type of users, two personas, you have three personas. And most of the time, they are the very complex MVPs, those ones, because every single type of user comes with their own set of requirement, their own sets of problems, and you don’t have one problem to solve, you have three this time in every marketplace.

Nathalie:
Yeah, and you have two businesses in there. So you have the start-up business, and usually, you have a customer in another business and so then, the two business cases don’t always… I mean, they are compatible, but you need to find ways to make them work together. So yeah.

Nic:
So these ones are complex, building a marketplace is something extremely complex. But as far as another app, which is more like a normal B2B or B2C apps, this idea of it doesn’t have to be super, super small, it just has to be “this is what the people need to decide right now if they’re ready to part with their money on your product”, basically. I think for me, that’s the answer that everybody should look for is, “Are there people willing to pay for the things I’m offering here and now? And is that amount of people that are ready to pay going somehow, rather than having a bigger turn than acquisition of customers, basically?”

Nic:
But so now, we’ve done the discovery session and we have built the product and is now the end of the, maybe the end of the 16 weeks and the product goes live. As we know, this is the most anticlimactic moment. Everybody is so fixated on this, “We’re going to launch. It’s going to be fantastic.” The reality is-

Nathalie:
Nothing happens.

Nic:
We push a button and now, the real work starts, right? Our work is done. Usually, if we have a big sense of, “Good. It’s done,” but now, the real work for the start-up starts. They have to activate all those marketing activities they’ve done in the past couple of weeks or couple of month. And now, they have collected this amount of people where they have this, “We’re going to see your plan. They had this PPC plan whatever that is.” Now is their time to say, “Okay, guys. We are open and it’s time to market this app and it’s time to make some money.”

Nic:
And inevitably, they have people coming and you start to have loads of questions, and you have people that understand the app and go straight ahead and, “Yup, they can do it.” And then you have some, where it’s not answering the problem or it’s not answering it in a way that they understand or it’s actually, “Yeah, it looks good, but it wold be nice if it would also do XYZ.”

Nic:
And that’s where, as technical partners, we tend to have follow-up mini sessions or… I don’t know. They’re not really board meetings, but they’re mostly like…

Nathalie:
Brainstorming sessions?

Nic:
Brainstorming session. Every month, we meet with the founders and we try to sit down for half a day or a couple of hours to half a day, and we help them to basically, make sense of where they are right now, based on user feedback, based on sales, based on user acquisitions and all that.

Nic:
And this is where we start to get two different type of founders. You have the ones that are “We’re going to wait.” And they’re going to wait for a long time, sometime on the verge of too long, like now it’s time for you to move and okay, you have a market, you have people ready here, you need to unlock, you need to-

Nathalie:
Talk to them.

Nathalie:
I think it’s the talking to them as… rather than waiting. And at that point, you need to really be proactive and get to talk to your users and understand them. Because yes, they are using the site, but these are the early adopters, and you need to understand them and you need to be proactive and contact them, get in touch with them, see what they think, see where their pain points are.

Nathalie:
If you don’t do it now, when the site is fresh and just up and running, then it’s going to be really hard later, and you’re going to miss things. At that point, even if people are coming to the site, and actually, you’re making sales and everything, this is now the time for you to be absolutely proactive and really, really have a conversation with them.

Nic:
Those first 10 or 100 users, they are gold. I mean, getting on the phone… I would recommend everybody to get on the phone with their first 10 customers, first of all, to thank them, like they took a risk, it’s a new platform, it’s a new product that they are buying to. And they may have clicked on your ad on Instagram, or they may have come from your tweets, or… whatever that is, just thank them, “Thank you very much for being our first customers.”

Nic:
And understand why they signed up like what made them sign up? Was it because of you? They followed you on Instagram or on Twitter for the past years and your persona is amazing and they signed up, just because you’ve launched something, which I do all the time. If somebody that I follow and I love is… I don’t know, writing a book or opening a new app or whatever, I would always take in account, for some reason, I would always pay for a few month just to help or whatever.

Nic:
But then, you also have the ones that know they generally like, they saw your sales packages, they saw your pricing, they saw what your app has to to offer, and you’re solving the problem here and now. And they are the ones that you want to talk to, get on the phone and understand what you can do for them or how you can… not only what do they see of value today, or what would make even more value for them in the future, because there’s plenty of those people out there that you’re going to need to go and catch.

Nathalie:
Yeah. And at this point, the danger is the opposite danger. As in, not talking to them too much, but just you, then, taking all of that feedback and you should do that, but the danger now is to jump on every single piece of feedback. And if one user want something, then you want to get it done.

Nathalie:
And I think that’s just not the right way of addressing things. And you should, yes, absolutely, gather feedback is one thing, but also, now, is the time to still be pragmatic about it. If one user gives you a piece of feedback, it doesn’t mean that… It could just be the exception and it doesn’t mean that you have to implement it right away. I think I would recommend to wait a bit more, put a deadline on it, maybe, as in we need to review, in four to six weeks, we need to review all of the feedback that we’d have. And it doesn’t… it’s not because you’re going to make that one user wait, that they’re going to go away, and if they do, they probably would have gone anyway, so it’s not going to make that difference.

Nathalie:
And then, in all of the feedback that you receive, you need to look for it. And actually decide on what makes sense, what doesn’t make sense. Not losing sight of what you’re trying to achieve in the first place, what your values are, what your business stands for, and all of that. So it’s going through that list and making sure that you don’t need to address everything, but you should implement what the majority of users want, and what you think would be good for the platform as well.

Nathalie:
And if you have an idea that actually no one’s noticed and no one’s said anything but maybe, it wasn’t the right idea for that product, and that’s why you should maybe leave it.

Nic:
It’s interesting in the feedback gathering and acting on feedback, there seems to be two camps on that one.

Nic:
You have the ones that will be extremely religious at making list of everything, and every single piece of feedback would be somewhere in a list, and when somebody gives a similar feedback, they will put a vote on next to it. This is like, “Okay, Nathalie asked for that and Nicolas, also, asked for that same thing,” which is a valid way.

Nic:
And you have the other ones, which I think I find myself more on those ones, personally, where they don’t know, they don’t make any list and they wait until enough people made the same kind of feedback and let their brain almost do the triage for themselves. the rationale behind it is, basically, if somebody asks for something once, you’re probably going to forget about it. But if enough people are asking for the same thing, it’s something that will come back on your brain and you will know that those… you will know that this is a thing they’ve seen numerous times, and therefore, you start to make, you start to put down your list then you start to act on it, just because it’s something that has been nagging multiple people.

Nic:
I don’t know. I can see the attraction, obviously, of not losing any piece of feedback because it’s valuable and all that. But I think this idea of making a religious list of that every reviews of the time you put too much emphasis on not needed feedback. Not every feedback is valuable and you have to do that triage to understand which one is valuable, which one is not.

Nathalie:
Yeah, I think at some point, even if you do keep everything and you think maybe it will be useful later, that’s why we have what we call an Ice Box in every single project and some are very long. But at some point, you need to go through it and actually tidy it up, because you end up with a long, long list of things that are not relevant anymore at some point, and maybe your product has pivoted, maybe you’ve gone to a different market, maybe… I don’t know. It’s many things that can happen.

Nathalie:
And I agree, I think this piece of feedback, although they were valuable at some point, that you need to let them go. And it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean that you’re discarding something, it just means that you need to focus on what’s important right now and what’s important for the future. So yeah, a bit of a tidy up from time to time is useful and good for the mind.

Nic:
Yeah. So basically, if we want to recap the three action points for new founders, basically.

Nic:
You have an idea today, you think there is a product here, you’re ready to invest into getting that built. Before you do so, one, make your market research. Read this book, The Mom Test before you do anything. And then after that, go and speak to people about the problem. Potentially, build the prototype, either yourself, as Nathalie said, like using Keynotes or Sketch or Excel Spreadsheets, whatever it takes to build this lo-fi prototype. Talk to an agency like Cookies or any other freelancer agencies to build a multiple functional prototype that people can use and validate that there are some human out there that understand what you’re trying to do, and that think that the problem you’re trying to solve is valuable.

Nic:
The second step, then, is do not get blinded by your solution, and don’t try to build too much, always verge on if you’re indecisive, in the doubt, just leave it out. You always have time to build it out there in the future, just build something small.

Nic:
And the third one is, once you’re live, do not act on every single piece of feedback and take the time to understand and move with your new users, and please speak to your customers.

Nathalie:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Nic:
Cool. So what’s on your book for next week now?

Nathalie:
Still trying to work out this summer holiday slash working slash family life balance, because it’s funny because we’ve been doing that for months now, but it’s still not the same. It still feel like summer holidays looking after the kids and having a few hours here and there to manage the, “Oh, I’m going to take a couple of hours to play with them. Oh, I need to go back to work now, because I really need to get things done.”

Nic:
Maybe you should ask for them feedback. Maybe we should ask them like…

Nathalie:
Yeah, I’m not sure I really want their feedback right now. I think I’ll ask at the end of the holidays.

Nic:
But we can use my idea, where we ask them for feedback, but we don’t make a list and we forget about it.

Nathalie:
That’s a good point. How about you?

Nic:
Yeah. Still, so we’re going on a holiday early August, but I say “on holiday” we’re going back to our family in France, early August. But it’s probably going to be a work holiday. So still using the same pattern of half days. And the only difference is the kids are going to be with their grandparents during the week a bit more. And on the weekends, we’re going to see our family, which we haven’t seen for like a year, I think, or something like that?

Nathalie:
Yeah. Yeah for me, yeah.

Nic:
So trying to organize it in my head. Trying to create almost like a schedule of how I’m going to work and when I’m going to be helping the family. So trying to build that in my head.

Nic:
Still coding on one of your project, like one of the big project that is going to be live in September. They’re going for user testing early August, so that’s going to be interesting. So yeah, just trying to hound the team to get a bit further along so we reach that September deadline completely at peace, basically.

Nic:
And planning another launch on another big product that is going to launch as well in September. So we’ve got two big launch in September, basically. So helping the team over there as well to go and launch safely. So it’s going to be good, busy, busy summer. I’m looking forward Christmas time now for having a proper break.

Nathalie:
I think we need to plan a big team party well done in, some time early September, when it’s all out of the way and all done and released.

Nic:
Yeah, we need to do some, I don’t know, some sort of big picnic in the park, everybody invited and everybody gets drunk, probably.

Nathalie:
They’ll like that.

Nic:
Everybody likes it. Right, well, there’s the end of the show today. Thank you, Nat, for talking with me.

Nathalie:
That’s all right. Thank you.

Nic:
Like usual, we would welcome any kind of feedback. We are on Spotify and Apple podcast. You can find Nathalie on LinkedIn at Nathalie Alpi and myself, Nicolas Alpi on LinkedIn. See you next week.

Nathalie:
Bye.

Nic:
Bye.

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