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Let’s be honest: building a technology startup from scratch is a challenging task. Not only should you invest heavily in software product development to get an innovative digital solution that meets the demands of a broad audience. You need a product development plan, money to stay afloat, and the right development team.
A good combination of these factors increases your chances to succeed even in times of economic downturn.
In this blog article, OpenGeeksLab will walk you through the main software product development steps, define challenges peculiar to each software development phase, and discuss specific actions to overcome them.
It is the earliest stage of funding when you seek money to get your business idea off the ground. Since the primary sources of financing here are usually friends and relatives, this stage is often referred to as the “friends and family” round.
Before delving into the software product development process, you should be prepared for the obstacles ahead. So let’s define the challenges you may face when first setting out.
1. No whole picture of the whats, whys, and hows. Initially, you only have a vague idea of a digital product you want to build. And nothing more. The target market, business model, and core functionality are yet to be discovered.
2. No clear vision of technical feasibility and market needs. At the earliest stages of startup product development, you may find it hard to define whether your business idea is feasible at the technical level. In addition, you may have little knowledge about your target market and its basic needs.
As you can see, the major challenges associated with the pre-seed startup stage result from the lack of clear project vision and market knowledge. Now let’s take a look at particular things you should do to get a clear product vision:
As you can see, a lack of clear project vision and market knowledge are significant challenges faced by pre-seed startups. To overcome these hurdles and achieve a successful pre-seed stage, specific actions must be taken to establish a strong foundation.
The following section outlines key steps to streamline your software product development process and ensure a frictionless path forward.
1. Validate your hypothesis. Validating your hypothesis is a crucial step in ensuring an effective pre-seed stage. It involves testing your assumptions about your product, market, and target customers to determine whether they are accurate. By validating your hypothesis, you can ensure that your product or service meets the needs of your intended customers and that there is a viable market for it.
To validate your hypothesis, you can conduct customer research, surveys, and focus groups, among other methods. By gathering feedback from potential customers and testing your product or service in a controlled environment, you can make informed decisions about how to proceed with your pre-seed startup. This can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your product or service is well-positioned for success in the market.
2. Prepare a project concept and presentation. Your next step is creating your project concept and its presentation to show investors how your solution will address specific customers’ needs. The best way to do this is to write a proof of concept. Consider it a small project created to evaluate the feasibility of a business idea. With its help, you can check whether your digital solution works in real life.
Let’s take a look at the major benefits of proof of concept to find out why you need this document when preparing for the seed round of funding:
By creating a proof of concept at the beginning of software product development for startups, you will get valuable insights that will help you determine whether your idea has a chance of success.
3. Gain funding from friends and family. The last but not the least thing you should do at this stage is to gain financial support from your closest people to get started. Though it can seem awkward to approach your nearest and dearest and pitch your idea, 38% of startup owners state that they got their funding from friends and family.
With a validated business idea presented as proof of concept and the first investments from your friends and family, you may enter the next funding round, called the seed stage.
It is the stage where you approach incubators, venture capital companies, and other angel investors to gain funding for further market research and the start of the software product development process. Now, let’s discuss the major pitfalls you should be aware of at this stage of software product development for startups:
Since the seed funding round is the stage where actual software product development begins, it comes with different technical challenges you have to embrace to build a successful and profitable startup business. Let’s take a closer look at some of them:
1. Your lack of technical knowledge can lead to irrational decisions and budget waste. It is great if you came up with an innovative product that has enough potential to disrupt the tech market. However, without a technical background, you risk having issues with bringing your idea into reality.
2. The development team is often small and often wrong in composition. Since you are at the very beginning of software product development, you may not know exactly what specialists you need to build your software solution.
3. You partner with the cheapest software product development company to build a minimum viable product (MVP). Collaboration with a cheap software development team may result in their inability to grasp your business requirements and deliver a high-quality MVP solution for you on time and within budget.
4. Not yet a product-market fit and has a small customer base. At this stage, you are still testing the waters. Therefore, it is unsurprising that you have not found your product-market fit yet or your customer base is very small.
5. A lot of chaotic and very fast product changes that are based on early adopters’ feedback to understand to whom this may apply. You should quickly adapt your product to the evolving business environment and growing customers’ demands to stay competitive. For this reason, the product changes you implement after getting feedback from early adopters may be somewhat chaotic.
6. No roadmap. Since you have not created a software development roadmap yet, you may find it difficult to evaluate long-term and short-term goals for your digital product.
7. No significant investments. Finally, the lack of investment may become a hurdle for further software product development.
Basically, all technology startups face these challenges in their infancy. What makes a difference is your ability to approach and resolve them efficiently.
Check the tips below can help overcome major issues associated with this phase of software product development.
1. Focus on your MVP research and development. It would be wrong to treat your minimum viable product as a one-time thing rather than as the foundation for your future digital product. Given that, you should focus on product quality from the start. By releasing a poor-quality product, you will waste your budget and turn users against your brand.
2. Hire a dedicated development team. You will need specialists with diverse knowledge and skills to make a robust software solution. The perfect development team comprises business analysts, UX/UI designers, software architects, software engineers, quality assurance engineers, project managers, and DevOps engineers. Be aware that a successful project launch requires all those specialists. Otherwise, the lack of certain expertise or specialists may hinder further software product development.
3. Decide on a product development tech stack. You cannot underestimate the importance of programming languages, frameworks, and other tools you will use during the software product development process. They will allow you to design and implement new progressive functionality fast and launch your product on time and within budget, which is crucial for startup businesses. Besides, with a broad and flexible technology stack, you can create innovative software solutions and drive your startup business toward digital transformation.
4. Do not focus on a roadmap. Though we have previously mentioned that the lack of a software product development roadmap may become a challenge, you should not spend much time creating it if you have not achieved your product-market fit yet.
5. Work hard on edits and implement relevant add-ons. Implement new functionality as fast as you can but avoid feature overload. Otherwise, you risk spending all your budget on building top-notch features that will not add value to your target audience. Instead, focus your attention on developing the functionality required for solving one specific problem for your target audience or its particular segment. As soon as your idea succeeds, you can expand the product further.
6. Set up a system to work in a complex environment. To help your startup adapt and evolve, you may need to evaluate factors like establishing clear processes and procedures for decision-making, communication, and workflow. You should also consider implementing tools and technologies that can help streamline your operations, such as project management software, customer relationship management systems, and other relevant platforms. Additionally, it may be helpful to establish a culture of experimentation and continuous improvement, which encourages innovation and risk-taking while also maintaining a focus on achieving measurable results.
7. Run A/B testing. It would be a sound idea to release two different product versions for different user groups and then compare feedback. This software development approach makes it easier to grasp the main user preferences and update your solution accordingly.
8. Pitch and demo your idea to potential investors. Now it’s time to share the first results of your market research and software product development with your investors to gain financial support that will allow you to keep going. Start with outlining a certain issue you are going to solve with your digital product. Even if your MVP is great and the business plan looks promising, investors will not be impressed if your solution does not meet a particular need.
With all those things done, you can enter the next funding round.
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When you have already shown your MVP to investors and gained their financial support, you can spend those funds on full-blown product development.
The following challenges are pretty common for startups entering this stage:
1. Lots of ideas, but a limited budget. By this time, you may have accumulated many ideas regarding further software product development and business growth. However, the lack of money can make it difficult to bring them into reality.
2. You have a working product and the business model canvas, but you need to validate and scale the business. You need to define how your project will bring your profit in the long run.
3. The new staff is needed to respond to new challenges. With the growth of your business, the team working on your product will be expanding as well. You will need to hire new specialists, for example, software developers for startups, sales representatives, or marketers, to meet evolving needs of your startup and embrace new challenges.
4. Still no clear picture of technical capabilities. You still may find it hard to determine how to deliver your product or services from a technical perspective.
5. Product-market fit changes. Over time, you may notice that your product-market fit is changing. Such alterations can be caused by the product itself or they may happen due to external factors, such as the market condition or competition.
To sum up, practically all startups face these growing pains. Luckily with a proper action plan, you will learn to embrace them with the courage and resilience you need to grow your technology business.
Here are some steps you should take to dig your startup out:
1. Build a conscious approach to work. It’s crucial to build a conscious approach to work that fosters productivity, efficiency, and a positive work environment. This involves creating a culture that values clear communication, collaboration, and accountability while also prioritizing the well-being of team members.
2. Recruit for critical roles. Specifically, you will need more software developers for startup product building and marketers and sales representatives to gain more customers.
3. Make a high-quality clickable prototype. A clickable prototype is an interactive model of your software product design that allows users to click through and explore different features and functions.
4. Mind your business scale at the early stage. It’s important to mind your business scale and focus on sustainable growth from the very beginning of the software product development process. This means taking a strategic approach to scaling your operations and managing your resources to ensure long-term success.
5. Improve a product based on feedback. This involves gathering feedback from customers and other stakeholders, analyzing it, and using it to make informed decisions about how to enhance your product and better meet the needs of your target market.
6. Properly plan a roadmap. It’s important to define whether you will focus on moving early adopters from a minimum viable product (MVP) to a full-scale product or on attracting new customers. This decision will depend on a variety of factors, such as your company’s growth objectives, market conditions, and the competitive landscape.
7. Develop a track record. A track record can take many forms, such as an established user base, consistent revenue streams, or other key performance indicators (KPIs) that show steady growth and progress. For example, if you have a mobile app, you may have a track record of consistently increasing user engagement and retention over time. If you have a SaaS product, you may have a track record of consistent revenue growth and customer acquisition.
By following these steps, startups can position themselves for growth and success in the highly competitive startup ecosystem and increase their chances of moving to the next growth stage.
Well-established startups in the growth stage seek support from hedge funds, investment banks, or private equity investors to scale their operations. However, this stage comes with its own set of challenges that can be difficult to navigate.
Some of the most common challenges for startups in the growth stage include:
1. Moving from an MVP to a full-scale product: After successfully launching a minimal viable product, startups must now expand it into a comprehensive solution that satisfies the needs of early adopters and beyond.
2. Releasing updated versions of a product in a timely manner: Delayed releases can lead to loss of users and profits, so it’s essential to set predictable release dates and stick to them.
3. Focusing on product growth, profitability, and expanding the customer base: Sales and marketing teams must work to attract as many new users as possible while maintaining profitability.
By overcoming these challenges, startups can position themselves for success and attract the necessary funding to scale their operations in the highly competitive startup ecosystem.
Follow the tips below to prevent the roadblocks mentioned above from blindsiding you:
1. Communicate with the team regularly. Constant communication with the team providing you with the product development services will help you ensure that the software product development process goes smoothly and all engaged parties are on the same page.
2. Design software system architecture and technical solutions. That’s the stage where the main engineering work takes place.
3. Create a product roadmap. With the product development plan, you will scale your startup efficiently without budget overruns and the need to restart the software product development process from scratch.
4. Continuously improve the product. Here we should mention the importance of technical support and maintenance services to improve user experience and fix any technical issues customers may have and the release of new features to keep them interested in your solution.
By following the above steps, startups can effectively tackle the challenges of the growth stage (B/C) and prepare themselves for the next phase of growth. In the scale-up stage (Series D+), they will focus on scaling their operations and expanding their reach. Let’s take a look at what lies ahead in this exciting phase.
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Scaling up a startup to a larger organization requires a strategic approach and careful planning. In this stage, the focus shifts from survival to sustained growth and expansion. Let’s take a look at the most challenging tasks you should consider so far:
1. Invest in new solutions. Simply developing your existing product may not be enough to keep up with the pace of growth at this stage. Consider building new software solutions to sustain your startup growth and increase your customer base.
2. Establish a development flow. Constantly enhancing your product with new functionality is crucial to stay relevant and competitive. A well-established software development workflow will ensure frequent delivery of new features.
3. Build a smooth delivery process. This helps increase the efficiency of each stage of the software development life cycle – from planning and product design to after-launch maintenance and support.
4. Consider entering new markets and segments. With a solid market entry strategy, you can define how to distribute your digital product to new markets with different cultural, economic, and legal landscapes.
As startups progress to the scale-up stage, they face new challenges and opportunities. To continue growing and thriving, entrepreneurs must invest in new solutions, establish a smooth development flow, build a solid delivery process, and consider entering new markets and segments. By taking these steps, startups can navigate the complexities of the scale-up stage and unlock their full potential for success.
Building an innovative product for your technology startup may not be an easy task. You may face various challenges and pitfalls during different software development phases. Our extensive experience in software development for startups has not only helped us uncover most of them but also provided us with some helpful tips on overcoming them, making the software product development process efficient and smooth. To sum up, please check the key takeaways from the article to help you build a successful and profitable technology startup:
Taking the advice of our custom software development company will bring you closer to a successful launch of your technology startup. If you are seeking a reliable software product development partner, feel free to contact us. We have been helping startups and scaleups thrive since 2015, and we are happy to assist you to grow your business with our software development services.
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