3 lessons from my 0 to 1 journey
That’s me in the picture above. On a journey last year. This post however is related to a different journey of mine. With less snow and ice. But with its own challenges and lessons.
I am currently developing Wiztr, a consumer product for private coaches and students/parents who seek lessons from them. And, not so jarringly, I share 3 lessons from this product development journey thus far, from 0 (idea) to now approaching 1 (release of version 1).
The lessons themselves are not new. However, having the courage and discipline to apply them in my current journey has been a new learning experience for me.
So what are these lessons?
Lesson 1: Time to market is negotiable. Time to utility is not.
Time to market (TTM) is the length of time it takes from a product being conceived until it being available for sale.
When a product you are offering is at risk of getting obsolete too quickly or when there is a clear and present early mover advantage, TTM might matter. Otherwise, while still important, it is only secondary to the time to utility value of your product.
Time to utility, did I say?
Yes, the time it takes for a product to reward the user upon installation. I did not coin this term, time to utility. I came across it only recently in this post by Tom Tunguz. Regardless of what we choose to call it, the lesson that really got home was that best products reward users as quickly as possible upon installation.
This lesson got very real during my Wiztr product development journey. Even before I found a name for it through the post referenced above.
Lesson learned, we minimized the time to utility drastically for our primary user.
Here is how it happened:
When we started out with Wiztr product design, our approach was based on best practices like “Don’t make me think”. And, customer discovery and concept validation based on a prototype I had made with UXPin.
The user experience we finalized was simple and did not make one think. Or so I thought! And, yet, when we realized it as working software, the experience felt like it had one too many steps. Even if they were mostly mindless taps before a user got her first reward, which in our case was a coach being able to book a session with her students.
So we changed the user experience, negotiating TTM down for time to utility:
Here, a coach (user) had to set up at least one lesson before she could book a session with a student (her customer). A very algorithmic and step-by-step approach to the desired outcome.
Is it needed though, for the user to go through this path to achieve her reward?
WHAT IF the coach begins with the reward?
Here, coach is able to book a session from the word go and Wiztr automatically creates lesson templates for her that she could manage and book from for future.
No setup needed to book!
Lesson 2: Play is for the fans. Not for the stadium.
Stadium is empty. My audience is streaming from home today. Can I still play?
Watching a game live at a stadium is a unique experience. Is it still the best experience? Don’t answer! That is a topic for a different post altogether.
What is relevant for me, for the context of my journey, is this question:
Would play be cancelled or deemed impossible if the stadium is not full with fans? Or worse, empty? This is not to say that fans are not watching. Or that they are not willing to watch. Quite the contrary. They are watching and willing. And, will show up at the stadium as the occasion demands. Just not for every game. But what if they mostly only watch via the streaming internet?
Will play still go on? Can play still go on?
Can my product still work for my primary customer (coaches) even if their paying fans (students/parents) do not show up at the Wiztr stadium?
When would that happen?
Fans are in the same town (iOS/iPhone) as the Wiztr stadium (Wiztr for iPhone app) but prefer to watch via streaming (use SMS to respond) instead of coming to the stadium. Can a coach still book sessions with fans?
Fans are in a different town (Android phone, for example) and find it impossible to see the game in person, unless the game is played in their own town. Until then, they can however watch the game via streaming (respond via SMS). Can a coach still book sessions with such fans?
Can the Wiztr play still go on?
Answer to a question like that should have been clear from the starting point of the idea (0). If it isn’t, it will likely become very clear during the journey. And, that is what happened.
I started with both the coach and the parent requiring the app to find it mutually useful. That flawed mindset changed along the way.
Pun intended here — Play this 2-min video (below) and you will see in the first few seconds how the coach can PLAY even when the fan (student/parent) isn’t yet in the stadium (Wiztr app for iPhone):
Lesson 3: I want you to want me. Even more than I need you to need me :=)
Remember that old Cheap Trick song? If not or never heard of it until now, you can watch it here.
Well, the song or at least its opening verse — I want you to want me — has become somewhat of an affirmation for me in my product development journey. The question however that it has led to is .. but how?
The product I am building has two primary actors: Coach and Parent of a student.
For the sake of this post, let us suppose the need for both these actors has been clearly articulated and understood. And, the MVP addresses their individual needs.
Is that enough to succeed?
The product I am building is a mobile app. Per this report from last year, the average person looks at his or her phone 46 times every day.
Now, say I want 5 out of those 46 times (say 10%) to be due to compelling reasons my product provides.
If so, what could they be? For the coach? For the parent?
Are the reasons related to emotion? Money? Recognition?
Perhaps, it is emotional for the parent. Monetary for the coach. Recognition for the student.
Perhaps, something else. It is easier to say which, with the benefit of hindsight and after looking at hard data and dancing around biases.
For now, all I have are strong convictions on some hypotheses for the two primary actors. Hypotheses that address the following two questions:
- Can my product increase the earning potential of a coach without increasing the active student count?
- Can my product help busy parents stay involved in their child’s coaching more than they are able to presently?
1 (release of version 1) is the destination of my current journey. And, yet it is not my destination. Destinations are fleeting and anti-climactic. I should know by now. The header image of this post was on my way to the summit of Mount Elbrus.
The journey always continues. 0 resets to the old 1, the new normal. And, there is a new 1 visualized. Which already, for me, is the realization of my want .. for my product’s users to want me.
More articulate people might refer to this as achieving product/market fit!
But my 11-year old rejected it as complex, adult speak 🙂
So I ll stick with I want you to want me and continue to endeavor in my journeys to make that happen.