Five years ago, I started a laundry business. I named it Mirror Lake. I’ve learned a lot since then. For starters, Mirror Lake sounds more like a Chinese restaurant than anything else. I’ve also learned a few other things about product naming that I wanted to share with you.
Taking feature requests from customers is a bad idea. However, it’s an excellent way to start a conversation. Done right, asking your customers for ideas is an excellent gateway to truly understanding what they want.
Timing is one of the most critical elements for the success of any idea. Teams are usually confident answering who their product is for and what problem it solves. Rarely do they ever pay attention to answering why now?
When I first had the idea for Tre, a side table for multitaskers, I was ecstatic. I believed that I had the next big thing. Naturally what I did was talk to people about it. One specific person’s response was important to me. That person was part of what I had identified as my target market. He was also an extremely honest friend. He would tell me straight up if my idea didn’t resonate with him.
Brainstorming is one of the most popular ways to come up with ideas. If you’ve ever taken part in a brainstorming activity, you’d know that you’ll end up with a lot of stickies. Brainstorming does lead to a lot of ideas. Unfortunately, they rarely lead to good ideas.
We’ve all seen at some point a strip of paper or tape glued to an air vent. And we all know why. Air vents are stuck to the ceiling, and we aren’t 10 foot humans. It is tough to get that feedback from the air vent that it’s working. And so the obvious workaround is to stick a piece of paper that would flicker when the air vent is on. This is a classic workaround. A “hack” that people do. It’s as if we’re adding a new feature to air vents: the visual indicator that tells us whether the system is on or off.
Entrepreneurs are always eager to introduce a new product or an exciting new feature to their audience. Their entire audience. This is a common mistake for many reasons. It’s important to roll-out new features slowly and intentionally.
I had to send Tre back to development. Everything was done — presumably. The working prototype was ready. We shot high quality pictures for social media. The crowdfunding video was done. And then I scrapped everything. It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make.
Have you heard of shiny object syndrome? It’s what’s known as the disease of distraction. We humans have the affliction of always looking for the next, best new thing (or feature). This disease keeps us from fully realizing the potential of our current ideas, and developing what we already have.
Customers will give you five seconds to tell them why they should consider buying your product. What should you say in those five seconds? While there are many ways to convince them in that short of a time, one powerful way is to position your product as a better or different alternative. Here’s why and how to do it.
We’d love for everything to go according to plan. For things to have a clear starting point. For things to finish when they’re supposed to. We’d love for reality to follow the same linear line we drew in our plans. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.
For quite some time now, we’ve been associating convenience with delivery and speed, and this has been prevalent in Kuwait. Every merchant or new business in Kuwait touts convenience as their value proposition – and that, more often than not, means delivery. What ends up happening is the business owner makes an app (or uses Instagram if they’re a home business), and that app becomes the interface between the customer and the business. Everything else that happens offline is through a delivery service. We’ve accepted that, at least in Kuwait, as the most convenient method of interaction with a business. But what if that were no longer true?
A question that’s always on my mind is: how do great business ideas start? Where do they come from? If you were to follow a disciplined approach to launching a product or business, what would the starting point be?
Finding good ideas is a simple task if you keep your eyes open for certain cues around you. Most innovative companies and products started with curious minds. They were facing problems of their own, or noticed how people were using different services and products in ways they weren’t designed for.
Good ideas are rooted in proper design research. Good solutions are rooted in proper prototyping and experimentation. But how do you know that you’ve done enough research? When should you start prototyping?
How do you create buzz around your product? We all want our products to be sold out on day one. For customers to be glued to their phones in anticipation of launch day. Without a proper pre-launch plan, you will launch to nobody. Trust me, I’ve learned that lesson firsthand, and it’s ugly. In this post, I discuss two ways to create prelaunch buzz, and how I plan on applying those approaches for Tre.
Innovating and product development are ever-changing subjects. Underlying technologies that power our innovations and products are continuously evolving (most recently, blockchain). Cultural shifts, immigration, and politics (*shudders*) translate to new sets of problems, needs and desires that we hope our solutions will address. Keeping up with the latest tools, tactics and approaches that aid us in better approaching the design stages (and post-design stages) is important if we want to remain on pace with trends. We want to give our products the best shot they have in succeeding wherever they may be sold.
I want to talk to you about the future/ present of work. I’m not a futurist, nor do I possess some super power that helps me transport in time. However, two things have happened in the past month or so that brought this idea of ‘work’ into the forefront of my thinking.
Innovating is messy. The process feels like you’re thrown in a video game with an open world. Sometimes you might be progressing in the right direction, and sometimes you might be going sideways. However, it’s rather smart to go through checkpoints. Here’s why.