Typically, you might think that entrepreneurs are the ones who start companies, and researchers are the ones develop new technology.
But you know what? There are some people who are trying to do both.
How to Calibrate Your Product and Technology Development Process
Last week, we met with researchers who are also becoming entrepreneurs at Lab Start Up 2020. Many passionate researchers shared with use their ideas, and they are working to get feedback directly from the market, which is hard but worthwhile.
Here is the feedback we gave them.
|Lab Startup 2020 was hosted by the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT and by the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation. There were 800 people in attendance, and 65 technology startups were represented.|
It is important to speak with customers early on in the process because doing so can help companies prioritize features for potential customers based on the actual needs rather than based on technical sophistication. University labs often produce technologies that are ahead of the market by years, or even decades, and naturally, researchers who become entrepreneurs have a tendency to compare their own work to the work produced in other labs. This can lead to overengineering a product which is then too expensive to buy or too impractical for reliable, daily use. In a sense, researchers have a tendency to develop products with technology that is too early for the market.There are two activities that you should do to grow your business as a startup: Market Development and Product Development. Both activities are different, but related, and their results will help you achieve a product-market fit. However, many companies, especially high-tech companies, focus so much of their resources developing their technology but do not always spend enough time finding customers in the market who are ready to buy and adopt their brilliant product.
|Classum is an interactive communication platform for schools and organizations. They are working with 300 educational organizations in Korea, including universities and private schools. Classum is seeking to extend their success in Korea to become a global technology provider for education.|
So how do you calibrate your product and technology development process to arrive at a solution that comes to the market at the right time? Very simple: go out and talk to your customers. Advisors’ intuition, investors’ opinions, and consultants’ analyses can be useful, but they should always be secondary to the words that you hear from your target customers when you show them a drawing, a prototype, or a sample of your product.
If you develop your product while you develop your market, you will gain the insight that you need to match your core technology to the specific customer needs and build the specific interface elements that will let your customer enjoy their experience. Direct feedback from your customers will let you minimize the time spent in trying to find the right direction for your product design.