big company managers versus entrepreneurs, founders versus professional managers, engineering versus marketing, marketing versus sales, missed schedule issues, sales missing the plan, running out of money, raising new money.
startups that survive the first few tough years do not follow the traditional product-centric launch model espoused by product managers or the venture capital community. Through trial and error, hiring and firing, successful startups all invent a parallel process to Product Development. In particular, the winners invent and live by a process of customer learning and discovery. I call this process "Customer Development," a sibling to "Product Development," and each and every startup that succeeds recapitulates it, knowingly or not.
The difference between the winners and losers is simple. Products developed with senior management out in front of customers early and often - win. Products handed off to a sales and marketing organization that has only been tangentially involved in the new Product Development process lose. It's that simple.
Who is this book for: I thought its audience would be small and its applicability would be narrow. I first believed that my readers would be startup entrepreneurs.
Webvan stood out as one of the most electrifying new startups, with an idea that would potentially touch every household.
What's more, most of their initial customers actually liked their service. Barely 24 months after the initial public offering, Webvan was bankrupt and out ofbusiness. What happened?
Its failure to ask "Where Are the Customers?" illuminates how a tried-and-true model can lead even the best-funded, best-managed startup to disaster.
"The Product Development Diagram"
Concept/Seed --> Product Development --> Alpha/Beta Test --> Launch/1st Ship.
prepare a Marketing Requirements Document (MRD) for Engineering.
Product Launch and First Customer Ship
What's Wrong with This Picture
The first hint lies in its name; this is a Product Development model. Not a marketing model, not a sales hiring model, not a customer acquisition model, not even a financing model. Yet startup companies have traditionally used a Product Development model to manage and pace all these non-engineering activities.