I worked on a fitness startup idea a few years back. We had big ambitions to disrupt the industry and had good momentum for a short while. We had a solid business plan and some smart folks on board. Ultimately, the developer we were working with lost time and interest. Efforts to find a replacement for him were in vain, and I lost my “extra time” switching companies for my traditional career.
When I think back to what I could have done differently, I think the biggest problem we had was that for our small team, we started too big. We had this grand, complex vision of what we wanted to build. It was very elaborate, needed significant amounts of software to work, and none of us had ever worked with the technologies needed to pull off the grand vision. We broke it down a little bit, but not nearly enough to feel like what we were doing was really achievable on any reasonable schedule with our team. Since the first go, I have learned alot about developing software using the agile methodology. Agile is a framework for building software (or products) in very small chunks, getting regular feedback on the product and making adjustments accordingly.
This time around, there is still a grand vision. From my looking around, there’s still nobody doing what I wanted to do the first time; the opportunity is still there. But there is also a much smaller first step that will create a viable offering faster. I don’t expect this first offering to be revolutionary or have millions of users, but it gives me a relatively easy first target that is more time than difficulty. It will allow me to get started and the first release will serve as the foundation of the grand vision that will come with later releases.
Is your product broken down into reasonable pieces? How are you sizing your minimum viable features to be able to build on small successes and be ready to pivot based on market feedback?