In the last post we examined how to use Lean Startup practices. We assumed a mailbox based banking product, and it looked not to be enough of an innovation to succeed. And that Google's Pony Express has somewhat a similar idea. (It is not public so we do not know exactly).

Additionally we claimed that you might have the wrong approach, if your front-end solely consist of backlogs owned by PO (Product Owner in Agile methodology). So even if you fulfill agile methodologies by using a PO and backlog, you might have missed it.

Let's go forward in our thinking and examine these further.

Our textbooks have taught us that the road to success is to fulfill customers either known (or at the time un-known, latent) needs with our product. But who is my customer?

Lack of customer focus is offered as a reason for Nokia (mobile) downfall in many articles written on the topic. But one could argue that Nokia did focus on customers. And it did. It had hundreds if not few thousands of operator requirements fullfilled in Symbian SW. Remember at that time the phone business was such that in order to get into subsidized operator sales channel the operator technical team was the gatekeeper. You fulfill our reqs, and you get into the sales channel.

Right, but the requirements were the operator technical team's small changes to Nokia's requirement set, not the holistic user experience that the end user wants. What Apple did was not to mind any of those and they by-passed the operator channel completely. Because the opinion of the operators was not seen important. Looking the results one might argue that Apple selected customer that was "more right".

So how should I approach this?

Let's remember here the Geoffrey Moore's technology adaptation life-cycle (you can google it) defines the user segments as: 

  • Techies - just try it
  • Visionaries - the lead users
  • Pragmatics - follow the herd
  • Conservatives - use only proven things
  • Skeptics - no I do not believe in it

You can keep these as your default user classes. You and your PO should use them as to understand your customer and what would be your targets. Now often the technology apps and innovations are directed to techies, but be aware that if you have difficulties in expanding your user base, you might target the wrong segment and needs.

Let's come back to this email based banking example. It is perfect for Google, they like owning your mailbox. It adds stickiness into their email and extends it to new business areas. But you should think it other way around. How to find a banking solution for the visionaries and pragmatics, which you want to target as they are a large potential user base. Everyone in that segment has a smartphone, or at least a camera in the phone. So you should test a banking app where you take few pictures on the bill you should pay, and the app has magic image processing technology which combines the pictures in a one clear shot, and sends that into the bank to be paid. Could be useful?

Is that a killer app? We do not know. Make a Lean Startup MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to test your idea. MVP is to be used to see if your idea flies. The MVP does not need to work, but it is more for validating our grand idea here above. And if some aspect needs to be changed, you can test it again in a cheap and quick way.

Once you know you customer and have validated you visions with them you are in the clear and can start the more traditional product development cycle.

It is not always obvious - Let's be careful out there!