I have noticed a trend recently as I help founders wrap their arms around their ideas and how to best get started.
They come to me with an idea – a problem they have observed in the world – and are devising a unique solution and hopefully in the process attach a kick ass growing business to it. The problem starts when they try to get too tricky – maybe even too complex – and add all these extra functions and features to their solution.
They create Product Bloat.
This is not good. It’s the number #1 founder sin. Yet it’s so easily avoidable.
It’s the number 1 sin because people think too deeply about what they are trying to do. Thinking too deeply is not actually the problem; implementing too much and attacking the entire vision right out of gate is. They also want to be different than others in the market, so they think “well, what if we put this into the app?” Or “such and such is doing X so we’ll just do Y so we can be different.”
The issue with that type of thinking is it takes you farther and farther away from “problem solving” thinking and puts you closer to “creating something new” thinking. This is wrong because trying to launch a successful product without solving a clear problem in the world is very difficult, if not impossible.
But back to simplicity. As a founder you need to think about your entire vision as a large iceberg. The challenge is to find the tip of the iceberg and only release that as the first version. The rest of the iceberg is under water and very large, just as your entire vision is in your head and not visible to the rest of the world. Some think of this as an MVP (minimum viable product) and I concur, I just like the illustration better.
Most founders make the mistake of not finding (or determining) the tip of the iceberg and thus end up building the whole iceberg, resulting in lost time, a bloated product and a lost value proposition.
For every Uber – a very simple and easy to use app – there’s thousands of apps that get it wrong and initially build a too complex product. They end up confusing users and not even getting to the point of an exponential user growth curve.
Twitter was simply a status update and following what others were updating. That’s it and people could easily talk about it and share it with their friends. YO was absurdly simple, yet at least it was simple enough where millions of people got it and downloaded the app to mess with friends.
The key is to break down your complex problem into its essence. Know the end game and the large vision but find the simple starting point where millions of people will understand what to do with the app. Find the least amount of features and code possible to solve your initial problem.
And then release it and gain users.
Once you have your users you can then figure out the next few things to place in the app experience. But take it from me, don’t commit the number 1 founder sin right out of the gate.