The customer is always right (but not in the way you think)

One of the big frustrations that startups face is the disconnect between the customer-facing and product-facing sides of the company.  From time immemorial, engineers have complained about the wild promises Sales makes, while salespeople complain that engineers have no idea what the customer wants. The thing is, both sides are right. Sales doesn’t understand the … Continue reading The customer is always right (but not in the way you think)

Every Employee Should Think Like A Product CEO

I really enjoyed Ben Horowitz’s TechCrunch guest post, “Why Founders Fail: The Product CEO Paradox”: http://tcrn.ch/17xSiBp Ben nailed it on the head when he said that founder/CEOs who are product visionaries flounder when they disengage from the product: “It turns out that the CEO was only world-class at the product, so she effectively transformed herself … Continue reading Every Employee Should Think Like A Product CEO

If People Don’t Get Your Product, It’s Your Fault, Not Theirs

Spend enough time with any startup’s product team, and you’ll hear complaints about the customers. Many of these complaints are justified.  Customers misuse, misunderstand, and just plain miss the point of products. But blaming the user is useless, unless you’re going to find a brand new set of customers who, magically, are smart enough to … Continue reading If People Don’t Get Your Product, It’s Your Fault, Not Theirs

Build Great Products That Solve Important Problems

If I had to boil down my best startup advice into a single sentence, I’d tell people: “Build great products that solve important problems.” If you solve an important problem, people will try and pay for your product.  Getting someone to pay for your product is the surest path to revenues. Yet simply solving an … Continue reading Build Great Products That Solve Important Problems

Willingness to try + Ability to learn + Listening to feedback = Success

In our zeal to pursue the Lean Startup methodology (which is an excellent approach), we tend to focus on techniques (MVP! Customer Development!) rather than the underlying abilities you need to apply them successfully. I think that there is a formula for iterating your way to success: Willingness to try + Ability to learn + … Continue reading Willingness to try + Ability to learn + Listening to feedback = Success

Don’t play to the crew, play to the audience

Another lesson from the great Kevin Pollak.  One of the points he makes about acting is that many novices make the mistake of playing to the crew.  When you’re on the set of a movie, there is no studio audience.  The closest thing are the members of the crew–all the gaffers, grips, and best boys … Continue reading Don’t play to the crew, play to the audience