Focus on the core
October 9, 2013 in Startup
The primary challenge with building a large consumer company is not â€śhow will you make money,â€ť butÂ â€śhow do you get to be a long-standing durable network and define a new set of behaviors or verbs?â€ťÂ Once you can do that, itâ€™s very likely you will be able to monetize at significant scale.
Elman goes on to highlight four questions he asks when evaluating investments. The entire post is an important read but I wanted to highlight the first question as it offers an important lesson on early product decisions.
Is there a new behavior here that you can see 100M+ people doing?Â No metrics can tell you this. You have to believe whether or not the product addresses a core need people have or donâ€™t know they have yet.
This new behavior serves asÂ the core of the experience. Itâ€™s the essence of the app. In the short term, itâ€™s the feature that evolves into a product. In the long term, it supports the growth of a company.
When building product on the consumer web itâ€™s critical to focus on getting the core correct. Simple advice thatâ€™s hard to follow. The web is littered with robust consumer products that offer a new behavior that few people care about. These are beautifully designed, feature-rich, mature products that were destined to fail from the start.
A major reason for this type of failure is the trap of iterating outward.Â Itâ€™s easier to identify features that would add to the existing experience than it is to question whether the core experience itself is correct. And so features are added and visual design is improved rather than evaluating whether the core is a behavior that people value. The end result is a product with a large feature set that supports a core experience that nobody cares about.
The next time youâ€™re about to give your app a new paint job or add a secondary feature, ask yourself whether these will have a material impact on the value people find from your product if you arenâ€™t changing whatâ€™s at its core.