The right way to build a startup

From Both Sides of the Table | Why The ‘Fail Fast’ Mantra Needs to Fail

What is the right way to build a startup?

  • Define a market problem that you believe you can solve
  • Research this market by doing market sizing, looking at existing products, talking to customers and deciding how you will make money
  • Validate that you can make money before starting. This means looking at what your buyer pays for similar products now, what the history of other people who have tried to monetize in this way have experienced, what your costs to acquire customers will be and what you believe you can make over the customers’ lifetimes.  These are all assumptions – nothing more.  I believe passionately that if you don’t do a financial model you shouldn’t spend any time or money building a product.  You want to talk about the ultimate “fail fast” – how about if you fail before you’ve spent any money building product because you validate there isn’t a big enough market or you can’t make money?
  • If you believe there is a market then build a prototype product that you can show customers, investors and potential employees.
  • From there build the MVP (minimum viable product).  I believe in launching with a small set of features and learning from the market before you spend too much money building out a feature rich product or before you put serious capital to work.
  • If you validate that there’s a market then go for it!  If you don’t believe that your product is resonating then pivot and find one!

Why fail fast is wrong, irresponsible, unethical and heartless

  • I’ve read all of the fail fast, fail cheap articles.  I’ve heard the insufferable speeches at conferences.  I understand that many people argue that “fail fast” just means launch products and learn from customers.  Fine.  Then let’s call this “launch and learn” as well as “adjust and pivot” when adoption doesn’t happen.
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