If you want your startup to succeed, don’t ignore these critical questions

Flickr, US Embassy Ottawa Startup Weekend

I have been interacting with lot of startups lately, a publisher who have published 80 Games and yet not earning to the potential, an influencer marketing app, a photo Application, a devotional Application, a business analytics product and so on. In all those startups I see one common thing which is they don’t focus on marketing & revenues.

When my startup & Apps failed even after few million downloads. I began to see a pattern of the working of the failed products or startups. Most startups fail because they don’t focus on revenues. A normal first time startup guy will think like this:

  1. Develop the product
  2. Figure out the marketing & distribution or Adoption
  3. Figure out the revenues from the product

You see revenues are the last thing people focus on, but it is the most important aspect of the product. Most of the startup people will put maximum energy into the product development and not thinking about distribution, adoption and revenues. People think that the product is so good that it will automatically be discovered by people and will start generating revenues. However most of the time that’s not the case. The product fails and then it is matter of time before the founders give up.

Now I have been through the same cycle I advise the people to think the opposite. If you have an App or a product answer these questions before you move forward on development of the product. Copy list from here or write down on a piece of paper.

  1. What’s the most amazing number of downloads I can think of for the product. (10 million to 100 million)
  2. How will people get to know about my product?
  3. How many downloads I need to achieve daily, How will I get to that number ?
  4. What is the revenue per user, What is the total revenues in a month from month 1 -12?
  5. What should be my daily active users and what’s acceptable number by standards of good App?
  6. Why someone will even download my app and keep it for more than 6 months?
  7. Will people talk about my product proactively. If yes how many times a day/month.

Now when you answered these questions step into product development and keep the numbers in minds. At the stage of product development ask these questions

  1. What if anything is possible in the world, how will I build the product, what features it would have and how many steps to complete any process.
  2. What will bring wow to the customer
  3. When a customer will talk about a product on it’s own, proactively.

Driving downloads is hard, driving adoption is even more hard. Here is a simple trick which can save a lot of hard work Get your App to be used by your friends, friends of friends, family & unknown people. If they get hooked to your product, chances are it will succeed. If they remove the product within a month of download work again on the product. If you can make your product work for 10,000 people you can make it work for a 10 million people.

Once your marketing strategy is in place, you know targets, numbers and you need to raise money for product development & marketing. Here is what you need to keep in mind. A VC or Angel Investor. How a VC will see your product would be something like this.

  1. What’s the problem you are solving
  2. Is the problem big enough
  3. Is the solution Good enough
  4. Will it scale and make revenues

VC will see people who solve problems based on their own personal experience are more likely to succeed than other startups. They will also look at the executive team who will execute the project. The most important factor for the VC is not the idea or the product it is usually the team who will run the company. If they see a credible team you may get the funding.

Once you have answered these questions you will be more or less ready for the next step which is product development. Don’t begin just because you are too excited with your own idea. Chances are most people will not be.

Now when you have developed the product, you have got funding, you have got bunch of customers. You will need to answer the next set of questions on how do I scale the product.

The author is a business consultant.