5 things you need to know before you build your product startup

Alexis Piperides, CEO of Proto.io, interacts with Hasura fellows.

As part of the Hasura Product Development Fellowship, we were really excited to have Mr. Alexis Piperides, co-founder and CEO of Proto.io, speak to our students about product development. During the one-hour chat, which covered design, the need for prototyping and his journey with Proto.io, Alexis also spoke about the things to do and mistakes to avoid when building your MVP.

Here are some of the highlights from this insightful talk:

  • Users have very high expectations. Bad UX = Bad Product. The first version of your app is either going to get you your most loyal customers and evangelists or it’s going to create negative word-of-mouth publicity that is going to be extremely hard to shake off. Customer delight is therefore absolutely essential in order to ensure that someone can’t just throw money at the problem and take away your users. Good UX is a key differentiator between the really successful startups and the also-rans.
  • What is an MVP?: An MVP must live up to its name: have a small surface area in terms of feature set so that you can build it quickly at low cost (minimum) ,be something people will buy (viable) and be complete (product). The purpose of an MVP is to get your initial set of users who will give you feedback and help you refine your product. It is a proof of concept and a way for you to understand your potential market.
  • Quick Tips for building MVPs: If you think you are solving more than one problem, you probably should remove features from your MVP. At this stage, you should be focused on getting real user feedback on the product and iterating based on user comments. The faster you can run these product feature and customer feedback loops, the closer you are getting to product market fit. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep your scope minimal and focus on objectively evaluating customer expectations.
  • Design first, Build later approach: Do not jump straight to code. Development is the most expensive and time-consuming part of the process. You should refine your idea in the design phase before you commit yourself to development because refactoring and feature-changes later can kill your idea before it gets off the ground.
  • Product != Company: This is a distinction that most early entrepreneurs fail to make. Even if your MVP is ready and you have started getting users, the journey has only just begun. A company has a lot of moving parts and it takes a lot of “learning-on-the-job” to turn a product into a well-oiled company. You should be aware that a good product might not be enough.

It was an extremely insightful session and the students loved the opportunity to interact with Alexis. Some of them even blogged about their experience!

Here’s what Nitheesh had to say:

You can apply to become a Hasura Product Fellow here. You will need some prior application development experience. In case you do not have any experience, we recommend that you first go through IMAD, our free beginner friendly MOOC on application development. The top students from IMAD are also offered the Fellowship.

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