Saturday, November 17, 2012

Part 2 - The minimal shopkeeper

In part 1, "Do you need to make the best product today" I tried to make a point that "you don't need to think or try making the ultimate version of your product at the very brink, but you do need to start working on it, one thing at a time, with the minimal product.

So what is minimal product?

Later, but first lets listen a story, my dad used to tell me, and this is real, as real as it gets.

"During the partition of India and pakistan in 1947 , lots and lots of Pakistani Punjabi's came to india as refugees, and there were a lots of merchants which came from Pakistan to India, they were established in Pakistan, but not here, here they were refugees; so they could have thought big because they were BIG; but they didn't, they rather focused on "SURVIVING"; One of the examples out of those is a punjabi merchant who once went to a Lala's shop in Chandni Chowk, this LALA was used to sell wholesale sugar and wholesale spices, this punjabi refugee merchant goes to him and asks if "LALA JI, could lend him 50 KG of sugar that he could sell in retail, right outside LALA's shop, Now LALA Ji here saw this poor guy in tatters, and thinks what harm could it be for me, so Lala ji lands him 50 KG of sugar, and this punjabi merchant, sits right out side the shop and starts selling the sugar in retail like 1 kg, 2 almost the same rate as lala was selling, earning just a little less than 1 paisa per kg, now Lala couldn't just sell below 50 KG in one go, because Lala is too big.

In the evening the punjabi merchant, walks to Lala ji, and gives him the entire sum of money he has earned ( and kept that very little profit), and goes to the near by gunny bag seller, and sells the remaining gunny bag for a few paisa, and goes home.

Then this keeps going on, being one of the only retail sellers, and no baggage every day, because Lala trusts him, this guy keeps selling more and more sugar (retail only), and one day after around 7-8 years, he buys Lala's shop from Lala ji.
For Lala it didn't matter for a long time, because anyways people buying from him was merchants from diff parts of country, but this guy was selling his thing in retail, everyday right under lala's nose and was making profits."

Lessons learned : Lets learn one today, however there are many in this story
 "Never underestimate the power of little piece of business, every little piece will count over the period of time".

You probably won't get acquired by some giant co. for 100 mill dollars, but you can become a co. that acquires other companies after a while, and as I always emphasize "Make a business, don't make a business that you yourself do not love enough, and you are so ready to sell it, even before it sees the best of days".

More Later....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Part 1- Do you need to make the very best product today? or do you need to make the working one

One of the most common mistakes startups do is to think the absolute future of their product, its like selling Idli today as a vendor and thinking of becoming a 5 star hotel; now lets say the Idli vendor has enough money to open a small restaurant, but should the Idli vendor plan for 5 star hotel?

In IT everyone thinks to make overnight success product, but is it always going to be an overnight success, or should you try building a product which makes way into people's lives and stays on; making them used to it.

I think when a startup {" i think its a wrong word,  a startup is a venture started by cool dudes on someone else's money, if it works out its good, and if it doesn't then the cool dudes start something else"}, lets call it "business", so when a business starts to make a product, shouldn't they think off the roadmap?   I think they should but they don't need to make it at that very moment, at the very moment what you need is a working system, which does the core job, forget the bells and whistles and the frills and those cool javascript features, does it do what its supposed to, or does it not.

so how do you end up making a minimum viable product?
You need to learn to say NO to yourself, and to your partners and to your VC's, everyone wants to give his inputs towards making a great application, but for the moment, just convince them that if the core doesn't sell, nothing will sell ever. You would also be tempted at times to try out that cool javascript feature or releasing an iPhone app and an android app with your small web product, tell me honestly does it matter at that very moment when you have zero visibility in Internet world, let me tell you it doesn't; nobody is checking you out and making a competition product, and you still have all the time in world to put those COOL features in your product, you should rather use this "Low visibility" time to bring visibility.

More on it later..

Part 2 - The minimal Shopkeeper