Ad Agencies · Technical Recruiting

Have Idea, Website, Mobile App, MVP, now what?

Anonymous

January 11th, 2015

I have started a new project, have the idea defined, Website designed and coded, App designed and coded, all MVP products. This is where I always get stuck, what is the next step?

I can show it to a few people, maybe put out a press release and get a few thousand users. This is where everything falls apart for me.

I need some input on the next steps and recommendations, should I hire a marketing agency? Find a partner?

I've been funding this myself, trying to take this to the next level for the last couple of years.

I have two hurdles, the first getting people who need to hire technical resources to post jobs and then the second issue is getting people looking for jobs to look at the app.

I have no expectations on making any income from this in the first two years but need some direction on how to market, what path, where to spend money, etc.

Any thoughts?

Corey Butler Entrepreneur, Consultant, & Web/Data Engineer

January 11th, 2015

The way it's described right now, this sounds like a solution in search of a problem. 

The normal process is to start with market research, prospective customer interviews, etc BEFORE coding anything. Perhaps you have, but it's not evident from the question. Aside from basic idea validation, this is how you find those early adopting customers. By the time you have an MVP created, you should already have customers identified to reach out to.... meaning the next step should be obvious... start contacting customers. Since that is not the case and appears to be a repeat problem, I'd suggest looking for a partner who understands the space you're trying to operate... i.e. a business counterpart to complement your technical expertise. 

Applying to an incubator of sorts (TechStars, Y Combinator, whatever) might be useful too. These programs are designed to help folks get over this hurdle without breaking the bank. You might derive some direction in following the lean startup procedures too, which are also designed to get folks past this kind of hurdle.

It sounds like you're in the job matchmaking business. This is a tough market to reach, primarily because it's so broad. In my experience, I've found PR/marketing firms cost a LOT. Tread cautiously in those waters.

I hope that helps.

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

January 12th, 2015

To expand and perhaps refine what Corey said . Before you read Lean Startup, and make the same mistake many people make (and I've spoken with Eric about this), which is to think he meant "plow ahead with any idea you have", read the following books:

"Just Enough Research" by Erika Hall
"It's Not Rocket Surgery" by Steve Krug
The first few chapters of "The Four Epiphanies" by Steve Blank

Then read Lean Startup.

Doing customer research and interviews is close, but you'll fall into the same potentially fatal pitfall as if you just do focus groups. These give you bad data. Asking "do you like this?" will generally return a "Sure, you did a great job" reaction -- lots of false positives, and you'll never ever learn what you don't already know.

Agreed with Josh in that you (as so many do) have done it backwards. Every line of code you write limits your ability to iterate or make large changes (what if your idea is of use only to you?), and more costly.

I always ask startups: "What problem does this solve, for who, and how do you know this?" All are important. And sounds like you can't answer this at the moment. That said, it might be something really useful for a lot of people -- but it might not be, and you don't know. Go find out, now.

Rob G

January 12th, 2015

Thomas; nail product/market fit first, then build. You are building a 2-sided marketplace, very tough challenge. some things to consider:

1. narrow your market focus: whether it's the ultra high-end user or super niche. Lots of established companies in your space already who cater to the masses. If you can narrow by geography (Uber, Airbnb) or gender or skill set or business niche or ? you can differentiate yourself.
2. focus on adding value to just one side of the market first in a manner such that these users can get value from your product/service even if no one else uses it - enough value that they need your product and can't wait to have it. This takes some head scratching, but when you crack it it's a beautiful thing!
3. emulate other marketplace builders - how did they get their first customers? : FB, LinkedIn, Ebay, Airbnb, Uber, Dice, Monster, Match.com, etc.
4. look at distribution models that allow you to reach/educate large groups of users at one time. this was a go/no-go issue for my current startup, but once we figured this out it has opened a lot of additional opportunities.... to the point where our issue is we have plenty of customers eager to buy our product, we just need to get it finished and shipped! a good problem to have i suppose, but frustrating nonetheless.
5. focus on differentiators / competitive advantage that your users can leverage. Companies want to set themselves apart as do candidates.

DM and i can help you strategize on the above if you want.

Eric Rogness Technical Product Manager

January 12th, 2015

Traction, by Justin Mares and Gabriel Weinberg, is a great book. Takes you through 23 strategies for getting traction, and a simple Bullseye framework to focus on the ones that will give you the best bang for the buck. I agree with Corey's comments, and this book will be an education for you whether or not this particular venture is successful.

Josh Benjamin Founder of Lifechime | Authentic Human Being

January 11th, 2015

Driving home what Corey said, I think you'd get a lot of value out of the Lean Startup and Running Lean books.

Adwords is a no brainer for marketing, but yeah it sounds like a business partner is what this project needs. You can spend the time learning it yourself if it interests you. But it's way more enjoyable to have a partner.

Mike Ahdoot

January 11th, 2015

Time to sell sell sell!!!!! Now's the fun part :)

Definitely recommend using the Lean Startup method for refining your product. For getting users, this is your time to strategize how you're going to capture your audience, through as many outlets as possible, and get them to fall in love with your product. You could definitely test out each of these methods bit by bit and see which is working best.

I'd be happy to help you strategize on these if needed - just shoot me a PM.

AJ

January 12th, 2015

Thoms,

The overall market could be large, but start with a small one. For instance, there are a lot of sites that offer services similar to your, reach out to the people already active on it. Or you could reach out to folks on sites like gitub. 

Question becomes what's unique about your offering compared to others out there. It could be things like better transparency and communication, an algorithm to match people people better, or simple price.. but you want to identify which part of your audience would be benefitted by it and then try to approach people who could be the early adopters.

From there you tweak and improve your product and as the value proposition becomes stronger, then you replicate it with another group and then another and scale.

I don't think a Marketing firm is a good idea, this is core to your product success and you should have in-house capability for it.

Alen

January 12th, 2015

I am in something similar as you i make job board for IT jobs.
The biggest problem for me is how to force agencies to post job on my site.
I think the biggest problem you and me have is that wee need partner it is big work and you cant work alone.
If you have big budget for marketing than maybe will works.

Lawrence Lerner Digitalization and Transformation Coach

January 12th, 2015

@Thomas, congratulations on launching your product! It's a step that not everyone or every company is ready to do.

If I understand your service/product you are providing a better job board.  As someone who's been in IT services for the past 25 years, the need is there. A lot of has changed with domestic sourcing of talent and every company is looking for a better way to source.  The normal became to use third-party sourcers who polled the job boards. I'd often see the same candidates as many as five times from different companies.

As others have suggested, you might want to find a few local IT services companies to work through. They are likely to be your biggest consumers and will provide a lot of feedback since their needs are deep and diverse. 

Here's an article that you might enjoy as well Think you know your company's strengths? Launch a New Product.

Cheers

Aleksey Klempner

January 12th, 2015

You need PR, marketing and biz dev.  I wouldn't work with an agency (too risky). Find equity partners or hire someone you can pay salary. In reality it's 3 different jobs. Good luck.