The new age startup – Build a feature not a product

Its a well known fact that the infrastructure costs of building a software / Internet startup have dramatically reduced. Although the costs of developers have dramatically gone up by the same percentage, the productivity per employee hired has also gone up dramatically. Given that a developer can now manage instances, push to production etc., the need for DevOps is moved to a much later day, lowering the number of people needed at a startup.

A decade ago most companies were focused on building a business – long term focus, building processes to scale and grow.

5 years ago companies started to focus on building a good product.

The new law of the valley startup (2012) is build a feature.

See if there’s any traction.

Build next feature.

See if traction has increased.

<Rinse & Repeat>

Why has this happened?

1. MVP: Most people are taking the Minimum viable product to its extreme (or bare minimum) and valuing a shipping feature over a feature rich product delivered later.

2. Try your idea out: Most of us have a idea (we think) is going to change the world. The world though, has other plans. It does not like change. Small, incremental changes are acceptable (maybe) but large ones, take time. So lets push a simple small change to the user (customer) and see their reaction.

3. Too small to fail. If all a feature takes is 3-4 weeks to build, the cost of the development is low. Amazingly low. And at that point, failure (or lack of traction) does not matter. Its okay for the product to not fit the market, because the product  was not built anyway. Its just a feature that was built.

4. It helps with prioritizing features of your product. If all you build is one feature, the next one is customer driven (mostly). If a feature does not get traction, it does not matter. Remove it to add another.

5.There’s no long term without short term. I heard PG say this from another friend. If you dont get some short term traction or wins, there’s no point in thinking what the world would look like when you are dominating it.

So my fellow entrepreneurs, build a feature.

Ship. See if it gets traction. Build more. Keep shipping.

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