Build Less: Sell More

Dear Professor Investor,

I have been working on a startup for 6 months. Now I'm worried that I have spent all my time developing my product and not testing the market. At this point, should I continue developing my site further or keep a simple landing page with email capture to test my idea?

Able from Detroit

Dear Able,

I have worked with startups for more than 15 years, mostly as a seed-stage (i.e., pre-revenue) ventures.

Funders and other stakeholders are increasingly looking towards third-party proof points (e.g., users). If you can build a mock-up or a minimal viable product, great - but even a simple landing page with EOI may prove that what you are working on has legs.

The Lean Startup teaches us that it's best to test early and often. You need to get your idea out there and change it as you gain information. If you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars building a website that no one will use, you will have wasted your time and money. However, if you get your landing page out there first and get people interested, then build out based on their feedback and the traction you develop, you will be able to pivot your product towards the right fit for the market. Once you have proven your product has value and an audience, you can then move on, invest more, and build out.

Start with searching for the problem/solution fit, then the product/market fit, and then scale up. If you don't do this step by step, you are going to be wasting energy and resources on something that you may have to scrap. If you don't follow this approach you run the risk of premature scaling, At least if you follow this iterative process, you can change as necessary.

I n the 20th century, we followed the mantra: READY, AIM, FIRE.

In the 21st century, we follow: READY, FIRE, AIM or as Eric Reis puts it BUILD MEASURE LEARN.

So stop building and start selling!

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