Startups ought to know the importance of starting first and remaining fast. A lesson ,most startups should learn instead of waiting for clients to come for them. Below is a blog post on why startups should start selling before they launch.
This was something that my ex-boss drilled into my head at my previous startup. It took me some time to appreciate the power behind this one simple sentence, and I was lucky enough to implement and benefit from it while launching LocalOye!
At LocalOye we are building a commerce engine for the events industry and launched recently with the first feature, a platform to discover and book venues. We went from idea to live platform in 4 weeks; and we could have waited for the launch before we go on sales mode. But we did not; and reached out to venue seekers and event planners from Day 0 itself – we set up a one pager website, specd out the detailed designs and started building it. Parallely, we built out Google Forms and PDF templates to suggest venues to people who were signing up. We even did small Google Adwords and Social Media pushes which got us 11 active leads. We sent emails to the leads, went to the venues with them personally, and even got on late night skype calls! Out of the 10 leads, we were able to service 6, and convert 2! Which meant we actually had a small amount of revenue, even before launching the product! 🙂 The amount was nominal (thankfully the ticket price of this industry is pretty big, with an average of Rs. 50,000/- per event) but it was revenue nonetheless and gave us great confidence.
Why should every new startup idea follow a similar approach, you ask? Well read below! Of course, there are times where this is not applicable like B2B solutions (enterprise sales sometimes need you to have a perfect product) and SaaS tools – but the following points should serve as a good template to keep in mind if you are building a digital product.
1. Helps validate your idea
No matter how awesome you think your idea is, it is NOT unless and until a few people out there have said that they will pay for it! 🙂 By quickly hashing out a rough and manual process for the product, you save time and money while also validating the startup idea. We have seen way too many ideas that sound great on paper, but fizzle away during execution over a few months. Or worse, they were simply not feasible because of legal or scalablity issues.
2. Helps improve your product
Talking to your end customers while you are making your product is a great way to know which feature set to launch with. It will help you narrow down on what is the MAIN pain point the user faces and what is the BEST way to solve that. It helped us to define the product roadmap at LocalOye immensely, and we could make decisions based on actual feedback and not just gut calls.
3. Helps you move faster than your competition
Time is your biggest enemy. Most startups fail not because they run out of money, but they ran out of time to figure out what to build and sell. Keeping an approach of always selling-always building will make sure that you are always running and focusing on keeping the momentum alive. And especially in the world of digital products, the barrier to entry is very low and most of the times your idea has already been done before.
4. You build a good pre sales lead pipeline
I think this is the best part 🙂 By keeping in touch with your potential customers they already know about your product and is a sure shot entry into the door when you have a proper product to pitch to them. Even if some potential customers give you bad feedback because your manual process/hack did not work properly, they will still remember you!
5. Gives you a really good high and confidence!
This one is pretty obvious, no? That feeling you and your team will get when a customer comes to you and says that they really needed this solution. Or better, they are happy with your service! That euphoria itself can carry you over a few more rough patches, which you will surely hit before you launch.
What do you guys think? Have you had a similar experience for the better or for the worse?
This blog post was first published on LocalOye.com. A marketplace for venues based in India.