The Haunting of Early Product Decisions

In the early stages of a startup, teams must make decisions based on assumptions about their product or service. 

Those early decisions can come back and haunt you in ways you could never imagine. 

One of the early decisions we made was creating our service to deliver weekly reports to customers in lieu of monthly reports. We knew our customers would want flexibility in the timing of the data, but building out more flexible reporting options was a huge development lift. We decided to pick one weekly time frame for our initial launch that would allow us to model things easily and move quickly.

Then the Beta users spoke. 

It turns out that the number one requested feature during Beta was monthly reports.

 

In fact, an overwhelming 40% of our Beta customers asked for this feature. We learned that many of our Beta customers were marketing agencies, using monthly reports for their customers. While telling us they enjoyed our reports and approach, we missed one of the main value propositions for them by not having this monthly report view.

Now we are frantically working to get our #1 feature request completed, but we wanted to share that sometimes startup teams need to take an expanded view of their assumptions of what needs to be included in a product release, or what set of minimum features are needed to solve a market problem.

So what did we learn:

  • Take additional time to lay out the pros and cons of your feature assumptions, before making any decisions. 
  • If your team is divided, go out and get data to back up your assumptions
  • If your initial assumptions don't “hold true” after receiving overwhelming user feedback, reassess your product roadmap quickly

Do you have an early stage product decision horror story?  We’d love to about hear your experience. Leave a comment below or drop us a line via email hello@talu.io