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What would you like to do?
Can you answer Michael Seibel’s questions about your startup?
These are questions Michael Seibel mentioned that he likes to ask startups as part of his 2018 “Building Product” Startup School presentation.
What problem are you solving?
What problem will be solved at the end of what you are doing? What do we expect the result to be?
Can you state the problem clearly in two sentences?
Have you experienced the problem yourself?
Can you define this problem narrowly?
Who can you help first?
What can we address immediately?
How do we get the first indication this thing is working?
Is the problem solveable?
Who is your customer?
Who is the ideal first customer?
How will they know if your product has solved the problem? How often (frequency) does your user have the problem? Who is getting the most value out of your product?
How intense is the problem?
Are they willing to pay?
How easy is it for your customer to find your product? Which customers should you run away from?
Does your product actually solve the problem? Be truthful. How and why not? Which customers should you go after first?
How do you find people who are willing to use your “bad” first versions of your product?
Who are the most desperate customers as how do you talk to them first? Whose business is going to go out of business without using you?
Are you discounting or starting with a super low price? Are you consider this approach? If so, why?
What are you using to measure how users are interacting with your product?
What 5-10 metrics are you measuring to understand how your product functions? Why those metrics?
When you build a new product or feature, what is the metric that will improve because of that feature/product?
What number do you track to show how well your company is doing?
What is your top level KPI (revenue, usage)?
What are the underlying metrics that contribute to achieving your top level KPI (new users, retention of users, content created => DAUs at Social Cam)?
Which of these metrics are you trying to move this development cycle?
Product Development
How long is your product dev cycle? What is causing it to be that long?
Who is writing down notes at your product dev meeting?
Which category does each of your brainstormed ideas fit: New features/interactions on existing ones; bug fixes/other maintenance; A/B tests?
How easy/medium/hard are they to do?
How can you restate the hard ideas (disaggregate idea into smaller ideas)?
What parts of hard ideas are useless or hard? Are there other options?
Which hard idea will improve act the KPI the most? Which medium? Which easy? What is the spec for the product/feature we want to build?
What are you building?
<= 70 chars
Who is it for?
<= 70 chars
What is the essence of their dissatisfaction? If they read this answer, would they say “thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way”?
<= 240 chars
@benedictevans: “The iTunes Store solved a user problem. So did the App Store. And so did Spotify and Apple Music, and indeed Apple News. But what user problem is solved by Apple’s commissioning TV shows?”
Peter Drucker: Is the product being designed for the customer, or at the customer?
Write a tweet from a hypothetical customer explaining the product and how it eliminates their dissatisfaction.
@BrianNorgard: No one cares about your product. Who built it, its features, the origin story — it’s all superfluous. People only find value in what your product can do for them right now. Save people time. Save people money. Give people an escape. The selfish hand will always govern.
Peter Drucker: Are you really doing the best you can to help the customer?
Write a blog post title for your product launch. Is it surprising? Is it new? Will your target customers want to click on it? Will they want to share the link? Will they still share it the next day?
<= 70 chars
Write the first paragraph of your product announcement blog post. Include the product name, an explanation of what the product is, the target market, the main benefit, and the call to action.
<= 240 chars
What “metrics of goodness” do your target customers care about? Does your product dominate every available alternative on these metrics?
<= 240 chars
See also: The Rise of Worse is Better, Worse is worse
Fill in the bottom-up market size equation: NUM_USERS * ACV = MARKET_SIZE. Are your numbers credible? Find a good reference class if you’re building something completely new.
See also: Shut up and multiply
Which subset of your target customers are so constrained by the status quo, they’ll welcome a buggy product?
<= 140 chars
List your first ten customers.
<= 240 chars
See also: Do Things that Don’t Scale
Which playbook will you use to get customers after the first ten?
<= 240 chars
See also: Five ways to build a $100 million business
What would need to be true in 18 months for you to get essentially unlimited cheap capital? How will you achieve that?
<= 240 chars
Why now? What’s true about the world that nobody else figured out yet?
<= 240 chars
What is the most ambitious achievable milestone for your company within a 25 year time horizon?
<= 70 chars
Is your product a credible advance toward this milestone?
What’s the next credible advance toward this milestone? The one after that? The one after that?
<= 240 chars
See also: Tesla master plan, iPhone runs OSX
How will you build a moat?
<= 240 chars
See also: How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy
What would reaching your 25 year milestone mean for the world? Is this future really exciting? How many years of your life would you give up to teleport there? If you found yourself in this counterfactual world, would you want to go back?
<= 140 chars
If another company was working on this idea and not you, what would you think about it? Would you join them?
Imagine yourself standing in front of your team, investors, family, and friends. You’ve failed, and they’re waiting for you to speak. What will you say? Are you willing to work on this problem given that failure is the default?
<= 480 chars
See also: Your intervention won’t work
What’s your company’s stock ticker symbol?
@sama: “it’s easy/fun to say every new startup you hear about is bad. you will usually be right. you will never be successful.”
Is it likely to be the most important company started this year?
George Orwell: “Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.”
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