And tastes like chicken!

Tastes like chicken!

I have been involved in hundreds of projects over the 17+ years I’ve been developing websites and web / mobile applications. Some of them have been really big ideas, most of them have been really small ones. In the last few years, I have invested in  2 very large “big idea” type projects that completely and utterly failed to launch. I say this with no sense of pride… because I was actually a lead developer and partner on both of those projects. Both of these projects were really great ideas. Everyone we showed them to thought so, especially our moms. Both of these projects ran out of money before they were able to release. This is why I don’t believe in unicorns.

What I have learned since then is that there are two major things we did wrong in both cases.

  1. We did not find customers willing to pay before we started building
    My feeling is that if we had gone out early, before even starting to build the project in order to find several customers willing to put money on the table … this would have verified value, helped us to set goals specific to who was actually paying, and these early adopters would have helped us to promote the product when we really needed it… in the beginning.
  2. We did not release / iterate features soon enough or in short enough cycles
    We tried to eat the whole elephant, and not one spoonful at a time either.  If we had found our customers first before starting to build… and then asked them what they wanted, they may have told us that they needed / wanted something entirely different from what we were building. By shortening your release cycle on your products and features, you have many more opportunities to ask your customers if you are going in the right direction. A year of development on a product is way too long.

Hopefully these two rules will save you the pain that I went through to learn them.

Let me know in comments if you have had any experience with this!