Seven years ago, my colleague, friend and I started our new startup - Pixelmate. Every other startup we've had before hasn't quite succeeded. Over the years of building Pixelmate, we have built dozens of projects and startups. We have seen many mistakes, but at the same time, they brought a lot of recipes for success that we would like to share them with you.
Last year we spoke at a conference in Berlin. We didn't want to talk about boring topics or too much technical stuff - such as why it's good to use native development or what prototyping designs look like. So we thought we'd put together the main mistakes that most companies do and which we've committed in the past as well. This topic attracted the audience so much that the whole lecture room was completely packed and we were mentioned in Forbes as well!
The magical Marketing-Product-Sale triangle
While this may be a familiar and basic scheme, it often happens that startups leave one of the main components behind. For example, they only have a basic marketing plan and focus mainly on the product. But no, that's not enough! While it may be true that you will be successful with a poor quality product that has good marketing, on the contrary, in the real world - it rarely works. I don't want to talk about unicorns. It's more like a lottery bet. In business, a combination of all these factors and their perfect execution apply.
When you think about who you want to sell the product to, dig deep. It's not enough to just tell yourself who your customer is going to be. It is also necessary to think about how he thinks, how old is he or what he does in his spare time. Once you have everything perfectly defined, you can tailor your product and marketing to effectively manage development and marketing costs.
The product itself should then be simple to explain and possible to describe in one sentence. (Kinda scary, huh?) The more features you have, the harder it will be to bring it closer to people and thus - to sell. For most projects, we choose the MVP methodology. Create a good foundation, get it on the market, analyze everything, listen to clients and then further develop the company. We started out exclusively with the development of mobile apps. That was our only product. After that, we gradually added additional services and technologies. If we were to start straight with all the divisions, such as backend and frontend development, testing, marketing support and so on, as we have now, it would be much harder to succeed.
Small, but effective team
Most founders start with a very small, but strong and consistent team. When startup starts to grow, they often start hiring anyone who comes in for an interview - because they're afraid they'll not have enough people. Then, it ends up with large offices and even larger expenses. For most companies the highest cost is the team. Recruitment should only take place if the company really needs it. First of all, each process should be made really functional and you need to make sure that the current team is highly efficient. If you don't have this and start recruiting new people, you'll be in a situation where you add more inefficiency. You have huge costs, but production will increase only slightly at best.
You'd better build a smaller and stronger team of really capable people. Give them all your energy and rather than recruiting average people in numbers, invest money to educate and school those who really move the company forward. If you don't have the skills or other people who will take care of your team, you'll soon be in a state where you won't be dealing with expanding your business, new ideas, visions, clients, but you'll only end up solving problems, vacations, sick leave, administration, etc.
When a startup starts to expand and so does its profit, the founders begin to shift their energy analysing different activities of the company. They compare how the competition is doing and how productive they are. In the process they may even forget the most important thing - why they started the startup. If you focus only on how to mirror the competition or how to do better what others do, you will never be original and there will always be someone one step ahead of you. On the outside everything can look completely different than it really is. Therefore, it is very important to always focus on your own company, your own progress, your own data, your own clients and work with that. Invent new ideas and implement them, try to be original, find your added value and develop it.
Excessive monitoring and analysing how you and your competition is doing in the market often diverts attention in the wrong direction. You should always be aware that you have built the company for yourself, for your team, for your customer – not for competition. There are a lot of companies in the market in every industry. It is therefore necessary to build your own network of satisfied clients - for those to invent new functions, services, products, develop their business and, above all, help them. If you put energy into your clients rather than watching others, the company will grow much faster.
Starting your own project? Here is how we can help.
- We will be happy to share with you the know-how in the process of building a digital project - in our career we have built several dozens of them
- We will help you with a business plan and prototype
- We will create a MVP architecture with you so that you can begin the project as soon as possible and at the lowest cost
Would you like to have a chat about your start up?
Let's grab a coffee.