Journey of a Product from an Idea to a Marketed Product
Date: Wednesday , August 17, 2016
Headquartered in California, Workspot enables businesses to deliver business application and data securely to any device - iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Windows PC, and Macs, using Workspace as a service.
Companies and founders start with an idea that idea gets mulled over and thoughts evolve. Over the first few quarters, they convert that idea into a product and take the new product to market. This idea forms the basis of any startup and provides a platform to expand. While a novel idea that will fill a gap in a market is critical in the formation of a startup. Propelling the idea into the mainstream is critical for the longevity of a company. It can be difficult to garner any amount of publicity as a startup, but, through trial and error, we have been able to pinpoint some must-do for startups looking to make their mark.
Here are the three keys to success in the first few years based on our journey as an enterprise software company.
1. Product-Market Fit
The most important goal in the early stages of an enterprise startup is to achieve product-market fit. When you achieve product-market fit, you know the customer pain you address, how to find customers who have that pain, and how to tell them how you uniquely address their pain. The challenges in finding product-market fit depend on the kind of problem you are solving.
If you are going after an existing market, the pain is well understood and there is a line item in the budget that corresponds with the pain. You have to focus on how you are unique in solving the pain. Either you are selling to customers who don\'t have the solution yet, or you are delivering 10x better capabilities to customers who already have a solution. For example, Flash/SSD vendors were going after an existing storage market with a solution that offered 1000x better performance. Other examples of companies going after an existing market includes Sales force (CRM), Workday (HRM), Netsuite (ERP), and many others.
It is very difficult to achieve product-market fit in a new market. The pain exists, but has not been clearly defined. There is no line item in the budget for the pain. It\'s not well understood who is responsible for solving the problem for the customer. For example, enterprise WLAN was a new market. Other examples of companies going after a new market include Marketing Automation, EPIC (EMR), and so on.
In our first 2+ years at Workspot, we were trying to solve a new problem - a workspace on any device for end users to securely access business applications. We acquired a few \'visionary\' customers who understood the pain, but it was challenging for us to keep finding new customers efficiently. In year three, we added a product feature that allowed us to target an existing market - VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). Everything became much easier. The pain was well identified. The budgets existed. We knew how to find customers and we had a strong value proposition for those customers. Persistence is very important in this stage. It\'s rare for companies to achieve product-market fit right out of the gate. New product-market fit may take even longer. Ultimately, a fit will be found.
2. It Takes a Village
Enterprise solutions have a large, well-defined eco-system of ISVs, hardware vendors, and VARs (Value Added Resellers). If your product becomes useful for one or more members of the eco-system, then you can tap into existing go to market motion and take advantage of other companies taking your solution to market. We saw this transformation happen for us as we moved from a new market (workspace) to an existing market (VDI). Immediately, we unlocked a whole eco-system of hardware vendors and their VARs. We were no longer fighting alone. In fact, we had dozens of salespeople in many companies working indirectly for us.
For many SaaS companies - Salesforce, Marketo, and Netsuite - the existing eco-system is not as helpful because their solution does not help the ecosystem. Finding support from a multitude of systems in this setting will be slightly more complicated, but positioning yourself as a service that will optimize efficiency and solve problems is one way to seek out partners to form your village.
Of course, none of this is possible unless you have a team that believes in the mission and persists through adversity. It\'s a nine inning game, and you need a team that stays together as the team strings together hits, steals, and walks to get to a point when the game becomes easier. The end goal is to create and market a product that hits a home run. Customers should be eager to become a member of your community and cheer on your team. This will happen when you hit product-market fit and you have partners that join in the journey.
Throughout the journey from an idea to a marketed product, these three pillars should be kept in mind. Effectively identifying and addressing your niche and telling the consumers you have an answer to their pain will position you for success. Startups and their eco-systems should work in synergy, each providing resources and solutions to the others\' problems. When every team member is on board and enthusiastic, startups can achieve the momentum necessary to hit it out of the park.