This question is harder than it looks, because your new company could create a lot of value without capturing some of it. As a founder, you need to have expertise in few areas or find co-founders that will cover them. The tricky part is to find co-founders you really enjoy working with.
Why? Because start-ups are really hard. At the beginning, it seems like a great idea that will be good fun to execute against, but very soon you discover (a lot of) holes that are challenges. If you aren’t enjoying your partners to the road, it’s going to be very hard to work well at those crucial moments. At the beginning, like in relationships, everything is flowing and there are no arguments. But very quickly, in the rapid pace of the start-ups world, you will find conflicts. Make sure you can have a great communication channel with your partners, and you are able to move quickly in those cases that you don’t see eye to eye.
Minimum Viable Product
After we have our co-founders and we are set on the idea, we are likely to move forward and to shape it. The first thing is the Minimum Viable Product: It is that product which has just those features and no more that allows you to ship a product that early adopters see and, at least some of whom resonate with, pay you money for, and start to give you feedback on. It should be in the highest quality you can reach. So good, that you will be able to capture your users into it, with the value it’s offering to them. It’s important to put it out there as fast as you can and start collecting feedback from real users.
How to test the water
If you built a new web site or mobile application, here is a recipe to follow in order to test your thoughts ASAP:
- Launch your landing page. The example here is of basecamp which I think is a great one.
- Set up a Google AdWord campaign (you should do it on a very low budget in this stage) and drive traffic to your new landing page.
- Set up Google Analytics. The most important thing to track and measure is conversions. Conversions are the percentage of visitors that sign up or click on the download application button. Even if you don’t have the application ready, you can ask your visitors to sign up so you could update them as soon as the application will hit the stores.
- Add a form to let your visitors send you feedback.
As early as we start with the shape of our product, we need to hire. The important point on hiring is to not do it, unless you must. It’s tempting at some stages to hire more in order to execute faster. However, this increase in burn rate is something you should consider carefully on each new hire. Now, in order to make things (less?) complicated, never pass on great people (=rock star designer, a guru developers etc’). These people are rare. If you find someone like that, hire them and make sure they are happy and believe in what you bring them into.
How to hire the right people?
That’s another challenge. Most CVs are full with ‘years of irrelevance’ and even as a ‘first’ filter, it won’t be too productive. Moreover, the limitations of an interview are also known. You could recognize the extremes in an interview (e.g. developer you won’t hire no matter what or the ones that are rock stars), but most of the people will be in the middle and it will be hard to evaluate. A good option is to ‘try before you buy’. So if you can start working with someone for a month or two on a project – it will be a good opportunity, to both sides, to see if there is synergy in this relationship.
In order to hire you need to raise money (in most cases) – So in the last post (How to Raise Money), I’ve tried to give some ideas on this process.