Written by Alexander Hipp
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:
Let's go through each of the four questions and see how we address them at Beyond.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Curate and discover the best content on Beyond.
We're inviting new users every day.