Beyond Logo

author image blog beyond

Written by Alexander Hipp


17/05/2021

article image beyond blog

Running Continuous Product Discovery in Startups

In startups, our biggest challenge is to reach product-market fit, and therefore we talk to many users to understand their problems and needs as explained in more detail in a previous article. Talking to users is an integral part of running product discovery but only one possible method of gaining new information.

Every startup should run product discovery in an integrated setup and continuously. I will use real-world examples from Beyond to explain why and share potential discovery techniques you can include in your daily work. If product discovery as a topic is new to you, feel free to watch this talk from minute 8 to 10.

Important discovery-related questions that we need to answer in early-stage startups, as well as established post-PMF companies, are:

  • How can we ensure to automatically and continuously run discovery?
  • How do we share and capture findings within the team or company?
  • How can our methods and discovery implementations successfully scale with our challenges, our growing user base or the company?
  • How do we make sure to run discovery as cheap but effective as possible?

Let's go through each of the four questions and see how we address them at Beyond.

How can we ensure to automatically and continuously run discovery?

To discover new potential opportunities that support product strategy, roadmap, or feature direction effortlessly, we need to make sure that product discovery happens regularly, like stand-ups or sprint planning. We need to find ways to integrate learning mechanisms into our product and our team routines to stream user feedback constantly.

  • Fixed interview session blocks during the week: Blocking a specific time for user interviews and setting up a user pool.
  • Prompt users to give feedback within the product experience actively and in context.
  • Schedule team meetings to share user feedback or look at usage dashboards and experiment results to create new insights together.
  • If users fill a survey or have been interviewed by someone in the team, send a notification to a specific slack channel so people know that new feedback is available.

How do we share and capture findings within the team or company?

Many companies of all sizes struggle to integrate product discovery cycles successfully. One of the main problems is sharing and capturing of their findings within the company.

At Beyond, we are still less than ten people, but we can already feel the need for making our findings accessible to everyone. Not all team members can take part in all discovery actions, and therefore, we need to provide reasonable documentation.

We're currently using different places for documentation to keep the team informed with market-relevant findings, usage data, user feedback, and experimentation results.

  • We capture all user feedback from interviews, surveys and discussions about Jobs-to-be-done, product usage, ideas and wishes on the "Feedback Board". Currently living in Notion, our primary documentation tool (bugs go directly to Jira).
  • Usage and activity data of the Beyond platform is easily accessible in various Google DataStudio dashboards.
  • If we discover potential new competitors or important facts and trends in the curator economy or startup world, we send them to a dedicated Slack channel (our communication tool).
  • The traction experiments we share actively in a recurring working session with all team members are also accessible to everyone in Notion.

By having these places accessible to everyone and up-to-date, we could quickly bring in new team members, revisit proof for product decisions, and ensure that we are still building solutions within our JTBD-boundaries.

How can our methods and discovery implementations successfully scale with our challenges, our growing user base or the company?

Face-to-face interviews are probably the best way to gather qualitative feedback, but they are also tough to scale. The best way to ensure to spend a reasonable amount of time on research and discovery activities is by having a good balance between different methods and types of user feedback that flows almost automatically. At Beyond, we are currently running the following actions to gather user input:

  • Qualitative interviews every week (semi-structured and JTBD- or UX-focused).
  • Discussions with internal beta users on their feedback.
  • Deep-dive quantitative survey after a user signs up to the waiting list.
  • "Give Feedback" possibility on the platform to allow users to get in contact fast and easy.

Furthermore, we are currently planning to run different roundtables with potential or active users to discuss new features and the direction of Beyond. Setting up a community or forum with your most engaged users can also reveal product flaws and deliver excellent results.

This mix between qualitative and quantitative feedback feels just right to discover continuously but not feel overwhelmed by preparation work.

How do we make sure to run discovery as cheap but effective as possible?

Many platforms from survey creations, video chatting, preparing documentation, designing to setting up communities have either startup-friendly pricing or provide a free tier that you can leverage. By the way, if your company makes money at one point, don't shy away from paying some of these services back. We're all together building tools for each other, so be kind. You probably know how hard it is to generate income with freemium products.

You usually don't have time or money to run expensive five-day discovery sprints with external consultants or pay the interviewees in a startup environment. Therefore, we need to find workarounds to be able to learn a lot without spending much. In the beginning, you are most probably interviewing mainly early adopters who do the interviews for free. They are very interested in your product and what problem it might solve for them as well as being the first to try it out than getting paid.

I hope this article gave you some insights into the methods and techniques we are using at Beyond to continuously build the best possible product by discovering small chunks of valuable information.

Join our waiting list

Curate and discover the best content on Beyond.
We're inviting new users every day.

Beyond on