Spending the time building out the product, without thinking about product-market fit.
You can’t launch to crickets!
My first pet project was building of this windscreen wiper replacement called “bye rain”.
You know when you’re driving in a heavy rain, having 2 sticks (windshield wipers) to wipe away the rain isn’t adequate. All you see is a blur of lights and rain in front of you as you dangerously navigated your way through the rain. I wanted to create a frame which acts like a suction device to “Suck” up all the rainwater on the windshield and dispose of it in a pipe that allows the water to flow to the ground.
I thought it was an amazing innovation and so did supporters from school awards who gave me $2500 to fund my innovative idea. I got a few friends from engineering and we started using titanium frames to form our first product. It failed and I lost all the money on the first prototype. I dug into my savings to fund the creation of the prototype 2.0, 3.0… , roaring with strong entrepreneurial grit and wishful thinking.
After weeks of experimenting with the device, crashing many second-hand car windscreens (which were send for scraping), we still didn’t have a winning product. In fact, we didn’t have a product and I was now heavily in debt. I borrowed from my parents and all my savings to build this idea and now, I had nothing to show for it, but being 20, and heavily in debt- even before I started working.
A mentor later told me that the importance was not all on product, but an entrepreneur should also know how to gather resources to MARKET the product. Even if I did create a successful product, how will I ever market this? To car manufactures to replace all car windscreens and swop it to our frames? To consumers who had to go and install this at a factory workshop?
How was I going to show the product to the world? Is there even a demand for it? Is the pain big enough and who are my target audience who would actually spend $400 to make the product change?
I didn’t test any of my assumptions about the market’s needs and instead, took what I considered a revolutionary, good idea, and poured my time, my money and my life into it. That was a huge mistake.
Months after, I was still working every single week to pay off my debt by teaching English, Mathematics and Physics to 9 students. It was a super painful lesson in my life, that I had to learn first hand.
A lesson I hope you will not have to learn the hard way.
So, before spending $1000 and starting, do a deep-dive research and ask youself:
1) Who is my market?
2) What are their pains, pleasures, deepest desires?
3) What is the current alternative and what are the ground sentiments towards it?
4) Will they actually pay for my product, and if so, how much? (Actually make sure people pay for it, by charging them!)
5) What is my marketing plan and distribution plan?
6) Is my cost to acquire each customer less than the lifetime value of the customer?
Asking this 6 questions will spare you from A HELL LOT of pain before you launch big time. Good luck and stay creative.