Finding Success by Working on Things That Matter with Hiten Shah of FYI

Episode #103

Rather than pursue a traditional career, Hiten Shah (@hnshah) decided to follow the choose-your-own-adventure life of being a founder. Since then he's launched more than 30 products, including five multimillion dollar products and a few spectacular failures as well. In this episode we talk about embracing and reflecting on failure, making better business decisions through research, the importance of sharing and teaching what you've learned, and how to make sure you're working on what matters.

  1. 1

    My take-away about user research is Not all questions will be answered and learned. And don't get bogged down by it.

    I felt a bit bogged down thinking What if I didn't get it right? But the point is on the journey. We will try hard, but the outcome isn't something we always have control over.

  2. 1

    My Main Takeaways:

    • Choose Your Own Adventure type people: These are people who would be better off starting something on their own rather than working for someone else.
    • Work for yourself: When Hiten was ~5 years old, his father told him that he should “work for himself” because that is the only way you can maximize the amount of money you can make and value that you can add to the world.
    • Society makes you think like an employee: Society tells everyone that they should have one job, one speciality, one career path; when in reality we are capable of so much more.
    • Leverage your network: Hiten’s fiance introduced him to her brother (Neil Patel) who was making ~$3500/month to do SEO for one customer. Hiten then began working with her brother and they started building various different products, then they “got lucky” with Crazy Egg.
    • Do market research and meet a true market need: One of the reasons that Crazy Egg succeeded over the other products they built, is because for Crazy Egg they did actual market research to discover a true market need. Courtland had a similar experience with IndieHackers. Courtland built various products that failed in the past, but with IndieHackers he decided to do actual customer research to find a true need.
    • Build, Launch, Learn: The experience of building and launching will teach you a lot of valuable lessons.
    • Focus on your customers’ top priorities: Ensure that the problems that you’re solving for customers are related to their top priorities, their top challenges.
    • Customer Obsession: Do customer research and iterate fast based on feedback received to quickly and constantly optimise your product to their needs.
    • Doing customer research isn’t always hard: You can find a lot of information about the type of problems people have, just by browsing the internet, reading forums, and reviews of similar products.
    • Be creative when coming up with solutions, not when looking for problems: Finding a problem and finding a solution should be two completely separate tasks. Do not do both simultaneously. Save all of your creative energy for coming up with a solution, not when looking for a problem.
    • Build fast and get customer feedback: Don’t spend time perfecting your product if you haven’t validated the product market fit. Build an MVP in 5 days.
    • Help people do what they are currently doing today, but more efficiently: Don’t try and create solutions to problems people don’t have, look for the problems with the existing solutions that people are using, and make something with a better user experience.
    • Review and reflect on everything you do: You can’t learn from it if you don’t review and reflect on it.
    • Document processes: If a process is documented it is repeatable. This is even more important in remote teams, which Crazy Egg is.
    • Learn by sharing and teaching: When you force yourself to share with the world, it helps you get better already. But when you teach them how you did it, that helps even more.
    • You don’t need to be an expert to do user testing.
    • Improve user retention by studying the highly retentive users: Every product has at least some group of retentive users. Study this group and find out what makes these users stay, while the other users are leaving. Also email the users who leave and ask why they left, so you can improve the overall product experience.
    • Funding is best when you don’t need it: If your business is in desperate need of money, then your business is likely unfit and unattractive for external investment.
    • Having investors will cause you to chase milestones: Investors will have expectations of how fast you need to grow and where you need to be over time, and to keep them happy you must meet or exceed those expectations.
    • Start with something that is designed to make money early.
    • Time Management and Energy Management: Don’t focus on time management without considering energy management. You may have the time to do something, but do you have the energy to do it? Don’t burn yourself out working, when you should be resting in order to be ready for work again later.
    • How to not waste time: Only focus on the things that matter.
    • Be willing to commit for the long-haul: If you cannot commit to what you’re doing for a long time, don’t start it.
  3. 1

    how has this not gotten more upvotes? great episode! any chance the transcript is in the works somewhere @csallen?

  4. 1

    There was so much great advice in this episode. I hope the transcript comes out soon so I can copy some notes from it.

  5. 1

    The take-home point for me in this podcast was: Do your research first. Otherwise you will end up working on things that don't matter. This is a very common blunder among startup founders. What should you be researching? Here are some suggestions:

    • Make sure you are solving people's number one problem, within your target market.

    • The best time to accept funding is when you don't really need it, but could make good use of it if it were available. Everything is less stressful if you do it this way. So during your research make sure you have a viable path to fund your development to this point. That could be a full-time job, a consulting career, or even some of your savings.

  6. 1

    Very interesting chat!

  7. 1

    This comment was deleted a year ago.