Ideas and Validation November 24, 2020

Stop building product that nobody needs - talk to users now

Alex Karezin @javadiagrams
  1. 9

    This has been a growing topic of interest for me. “Maker waste” as I call it. We all build shit because we think it’s a cool idea only to abandon it when nobody shows up to the party. We’re wasting our time, money, and energy - which could all be honed in on something otherwise impactful. Abandoned projects, domains, servers, etc. It’s like maker pollution. There needs to be a better focus of building for impact.

    1. 4

      I really like this concept of maker pollution. I would love to see some stats on this kind of stuff - how many domains were purchased with lofty goals and aspirations that go unused? I know I have a few...

      1. 2

        Id say I’ve purchased over 70 domains, most are expired and back on the market though but certainly a waste of time and money.

      2. 1

        Haha just made a list of my domains and usage... What a shame.

        I own 8 which I still pay but the projects went to graveyard,
        5 which are still "under construction" (before launch),
        6 domains that I just saved because maybe I will start some project eventually (but don't know yet)

        My complete list of online domains (but some without projects behind them) is 35...

      3. 1

        The domain graveyard. Me and my business partner were actually laughing about our number of domains that started with the grandest of ideas...

      4. 1

        Same story here... I have 5 domains sitting in different state of completion. I wish there was more structured way of avoiding the waste (that's if you are serious about building a commercial product).

    2. 1

      This hits me hard. I've been doing my part, in some sense by convincing many aspiring startup founders/entrepreneurs to do more customer discovery before building anything, yet I myself do from time to time build stuff just for the sake of it.

  2. 8

    While it is obviously valid and crucial to talk to users before you build anything, I am not sure that we should actively discourage people just building.
    Because I do not believe this is waste. It is just a learning curve and happens for a reason.
    And you learn better from your own mistakes, when actually facing the dead-end. And then you grow.
    Similarly with relationships, you can tell your friend this is not working and should move on, but it is when shit hits the fan that the realisation becomes stark and eventually he/she moves on and grows.

    1. 1

      I'd probably disagree. Making own mistakes a very inefficient way of learning. Needs to be a better way.

  3. 4

    It's an interesting idea.

    But for $60 a call, you are going to have to do a lot of calls for it to be statistically significant.

    One call to someone - they might shoot it down. Whereas speaking to someone else in that same sector, they might love it. I'd never advise someone to stop working on a startup because of one call.

    Remember, JK Rowling had about 30 rejections.

    1. 1

      Once you have exhausted your own connections, you I would start speaking with target customers outside my circle. Listening to 4-5 independent voices might give you a good idea of how close you are... or raise red flags.

  4. 4

    Too much time is wasted by entrepreneurs building products that nobody cares about. I pulled this site together to help myself and others connect with target audience. Hope we can all get benefit from it.

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      Did you speak to potential customers before building it?

      1. 3

        Really appreciate your sense of humor :D

  5. 2

    100000% agree with this. Sadly so many makers spend their time making products that may only be used for a few months by a few people. If you're building something for the purpose of practicing your craft. That's great. But jumping from project to project, buying domains, hosting, SaaS tools, and burning your time working on ideas that haven't been validated isn't the way to do.

    I think a lot of makers come from a background that isn't strategic product thinking, so I actually made a course to try and help these folks understand more about product validation https://howtoproduct.co/#define-design-validate

    1. 1

      I registered and looked thru your website - great work. I have one concern, if I may. It seems that validation and customer interaction is the last step of the process (4th out of 4). Waaay after domain purchase, mockups, designs. Am I missing something?

  6. 2

    Yes! It can often be difficult to diverge from what you had in mind originally, but there is truth in the saying 'The customer knows best'!

  7. 2

    One of the biggest issues that I have seen people face is that the minute they try reaching out to potential users, they get dismissed as someone advertising their product.

    Quite a few places now have a “No advertising” rule and ban anyone who tries to advertise their product.

    I’m curious to see if others have seen this and if so, then how they got around it and getting people to talk with them.

    1. 1

      I think this depends on the industry and how you phrase the reach out. I've had about 20% conversion (20 people in my target market hopped on a video chat) from cold non-personalized email because I say I'm researching a problem rather than building a product.

    2. 1

      Good point. I am explicitly stating that entrepreneurs should NOT sell anything (or gather specific insider info) during the session.

      1. 2

        Cool - I agree that that approach helps you get in front of people and get feedback. I've done it myself and definitely works (going through Reddit and pitching an idea, saying that I'm looking for feedback. Feedback has been useful and positive).

        So that gets you good product level feedback - but how do you know what people want it enough to actually pay for it? Taking the feedback route is good in some ways, but doesn't answer the question of 'will you pay for this?'.

        Or is the fact that the responsive has been generally positive (instead of 'yeah nah, no thanks') enough?

        Would love to hear your thoughts.

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          I guess this makes it an art of interview - trying to forget your idea and help customer identify and solve their problems. Only then evaluating if your solution fits. Not easy :/

  8. 1

    I've been trying to get responses on Slack groups & Facebook groups - I've gotten some, but not too many. It seems people are quite cautious engaging because they are afraid that they will be sold something OR the problem I am solving is not a conversation-starter, which is pretty important.

    I also have an idea to list out user testimonials of my competitors - and reach out to these people and ask if they're willing to tell me what they like & don't like about the service (i.e that I am planning to buy the product also or just tell them that I want to build an alternative) - what do you think?

  9. 1

    Maker waste, syndrome, or whatever you call, there are too many of us who like to build stuff and keep polishing on it. Bad product does fail a startup but the inability to acquire a market fails many many more.

    We want to build a good version before taking to the market and keep pushing. I have done that as well and so decided to change that with LINKDRA my current effort.

    Relevant in this thread because connecting with early buyers to refine the product, get feedback is crucial. If you are from the domain then it is easy to find buyers but if you are not then that is an obstacle course.

    **Do, you have a buyer persona? **
    If yes, then this may help. You can search out the profiles that match your buyer persona and reach out on LINKEDIN with crisp content. No sales pitch yet. 3-5 wil accept if you are sincere and have a legit profile. So, if you do this for a week, reaching out to 50 everyday, then by end of the week you should have over 100 connections. That's a good starting point to ask for a 30 min call.

    And if you are busy and so many other things to do, then you should try LINKDRA (linkdra.com). I built this to solve my own problem and realized many others too can benefit.

    https://www.linkdra.com

  10. 1

    I'm doing completely different. I'm building project management software. And I've recently got one freelance gig and I can use that project for my upcoming software. So that I can test it and test it until it's perfect.

    1. 1

      I don't mean to rain on your parade, but be careful here. What you like might be different from what others need.

  11. 1

    This looks like a great idea, signed up. How is the response so far?

    1. 1

      There are many responses. There is a noteworthy discrepancy where majority of entrepreneurs looking to connect with more senior target customers eg in Senior Management category (probably to better understand the sales tactics). Those will be difficult to match based on the price points of this offer.

  12. 1

    I talk to users and they tell me they want me to work on something that will take thousands of hours :(.

    1. 1

      Can you make a temporary solution for them? Something from sticks and duct tape for time being (before you earn enough to finance further development)?

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        That's pretty much what we started with. Our extension now works okay, and I ask our users a lot how we should make it better, and what they ask for is more of what we are already doing. The thing is it currently isn't profitable, and there is far from any certainty that even after all that time it will work.

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          Ask if your users would be ready to pay more for the new functionality. Their reluctance to pay up would be a clear sign it's not worth it. That would be my guess.

  13. 1

    Really great idea, really like it. Sorry to sound cheap but $60 for one user and 30 mins seems expensive. I guess it's because you need professionals to talk to who are highly paid?

    1. 1

      If you're looking for an IndieHacker-priced version (i.e. free) check out The User Interview Exchange :)

      1. 1

        Happy to see a fellow hacker working on a similar project. Do you know of any other products from same category?

    2. 1

      I agree with you completely. This works for a higher-priced products or funded ventures. Not quite the IH crowd :/

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