Tips for Launching a Tech Startup
Everyone has a Tech Startup idea at some point in their lives. But unfortunately, most people, even those with amazing ideas, fail to bring their vision to fruition. It’s not a lack of commitment or ability that hinders progress, but they have no clue how to launch a tech startup.
Without a process, everything is complicated. If you’ve watched a toddler trying to tie their shoe for the first time, you’ll see how impossible doing anything is without the proper process. However, launching a tech startup doesn’t have to take years. Veteran founders know how to bring new ideas to the market within months. In this article, I’ll show you how to launch a Tech Startup in 90 days or less.
Goal of Launch
Before I show you the process, let’s ensure we’re on the same page. Until we agree on the goal, the process doesn’t matter. First-time tech founders believe that before launching, you must build out every feature or function. But experienced founders know that they don’t even need to write a single line of code to enter the market and start earning revenue.
The goal of launching your product is not to build the perfect product. Instead, the goal is to learn exactly what customers want, create it, and introduce it to the market. In other words, your goal shouldn’t be to take years to develop some ultra-complex solution that you think your market wants – it should be to get something simple on the market and learn what the market wants.
Now that you understand the destination, let’s discuss the most appropriate route to get there. Specifically, I’ll give you a proven week-by-week schedule and explain what you need to do to build your product and get it in the customers’ hands.
Let’s put this in context: you’ve recognized a market problem and have an idea of how to solve it. Great. Now what? Most people don’t know how to launch a tech startup. The majority of those with an idea will do nothing at all. They’ll keep thinking about it for years, and then one day, they find out that another brand brought their concept to the market. While they were thinking about building it, someone else was building it.
A handful of those with an idea will move forward, but most will take the riskiest route possible. They’ll hop in and start building out every feature they can think of, spending thousands of dollars to create a product without validating that customers want to buy it.
In the first two weeks, the most practical action you can take towards the progress of your tech startup is researching the market. Researching doesn’t mean just hopping on Google and searching for stats about your market and customers. Instead, during these two weeks, you’ll go out in the field, engage your audience, collect data, and validate whether a challenge exists that requires your solution. This process involves the following steps:
- Profile your ideal customer.
- Find customers to engage.
- Interview them.
- Conduct a competitive analysis.
- Assess the data and refine the concept.
Profile your ideal customer
At the core of this How to Launch a Tech Startup guide are the customers. Start your research by understanding who your customers are. Ultimately, you want to build a profile of your customer – give them a name, a personality, and a face. When you create the profile, ask yourself the following questions:
Who are they? Look at your customer from a demographic and psychographic perspective. You should understand their lifestyles, from what they look like and where they work to how they spend their time and what things are important to them.
What are their challenges? In other words, in your customer profile, you should show that you understand the specific issues that your customer experiences. When you know their challenges, it makes it much easier to design a solution that directly solves their particular challenges.
Who do they trust? Likelyyour customers won’t fully trust you as a new brand. However, if you can identify influencers and brands they trust, you can determine the potential partners you need to streamline brand trust in the market.
Take all this information and organize it into a detailed profile of your customer. Furthermore, if you serve several customer segments, you’ll find it most impactful to create a separate persona for each customer type.
Find Customers to Engage
Now, you have all the preliminary information you need to understand precisely who your customers are. The next step is to find and engage with these customers. Before you knew who your customers were, finding them was like taking a shot in the dark. However, now that you have a detailed profile of who they are, where they are, and how they search for information – locating them should be a much easier task.
Look at your contact list and determine whether anyone meets your created profile. Most entrepreneurs start businesses in industries where they are already active. If this is the case, you likely have peers with qualities that align with your customer persona. But if not, there are many other places you may look to find qualified prospects, like forums or social media groups. You may also find them offline in relevant meetup groups or social clubs.
You can learn a substantial amount about these individuals by observing them as they interact. By following the questions, they ask, you can quickly identify the problems they experience. By determining who they listen to or talk about, you may get more clarity on who influences them or whose information they trust the most. Still, you’ll learn the most about them when you begin engaging them in conversations and immersing yourself in their experiences.
After identifying prospects, you’ll seek to learn more about their experiences by interviewing them directly. The goal is to determine whether they have a substantial challenge that warrants a solution and whether your proposed solution adequately addresses their challenges.
Schedule an in-person or virtual interview with a dozen or so prospects. Create open-ended questions that allow you to understand the challenges in their journey, their existing solutions, and their perceived challenges with current solutions. Take notes as you conduct these interviews. Once you’ve completed your initial discussions, assess the data and see if you can find patterns in their responses. Then determine:
- Is there a substantial challenge that they face?
- Does your proposed solution effectively solve their problem?
- Are there features you can add to improve your solution?
Entrepreneurs can learn two things by interviewing their prospects. First, they may discover that they have the perfect tech solution already, which will validate their initial assumptions. However, the most likely outcome is that they find weaknesses in their initial concept. Contrary to popular belief, this is a good thing. Finding flaws ahead of time allows you to fix them, severely reducing tech startup risks and improving your value proposition.
Conduct a competitor analysis
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just know what customers want; you also have to ensure that there aren’t other competitors in the market already solving those problems adequately. Entering a saturated market is complex, and there’s little potential for succeeding there.
For example, you might conclude that consumers want an e-commerce solution where they can find just about anything and have it shipped to their doorstep within three days. That would be a great insight for an entrepreneur. However, there’s already Amazon – and if your solution isn’t critically different or better than Amazon (which it probably isn’t), then it’s unlikely that customers will choose your solution over what’s already available to them. And even if your concept is better, what keeps Amazon from just building it themselves?
Fortunately, you’ll find all these answers when you conduct a competitor analysis. The first step to competitor analysis is to identify all of your direct competitors. Next, you will analyze each of them and determine their positioning, strengths and weaknesses, effectiveness in solving customers’ problems, and how their solution compares to your prospective solution. Here are a few qualities you should seek to expose as you analyze each competitor:
- What benefits do their products provide to customers?
- What are customers saying about their products?
- Do they have a clear value proposition?
- What are their unfair advantages?
- What do customers like and dislike about their products?
- Which methods are they using to introduce their products to and reach customers?
- Is their financial position strong?
- Are there areas where they are weak that you can capitalize on?
Do not be Afraid to Fail
Failure may not be a good sign in a business, but on the flip side, this can turn out to be the greatest source of inspiration, learning, and ideas. Failure means you have the opportunity to make changes for the better. In tech, you can never be too sure of something unless you try it out. Learn from your mistakes, pick up the pieces, and strive to become better each day.
Do not compromise your Business Strategy
When starting up, there is always one customer who will try to convince you to do things their way. In the process of trying to massage their ego, you end up losing the bearing of your business. Even when starting up, it pays to stick to your principles. Most tech startups believe that by customizing a given offering to fit their customer’s specific needs, they will win them over. Well, they may win them over, but what about the rest of their potential clientele? You can’t always tweak your business strategy to fit every customer.
Common Mistakes Your Tech Startup Should Avoid
Sometimes along your journey you lose sight of the advice that got you to that point. Or maybe things are going so well that you feel you can skip a few steps or take a little extra risk. Whether you’re just about to start your research or about to make that first pitch, keep the following in mind:
Don’t prepare to scale too early – Early days are challenging, so focus on doing the work of making your product viable first and save the detailed questions of scale for production, advertisement, and growth for later.
Always do your homework – Sure you know your industry inside and out, but how about the investor you’re about to pitch to? You’re confident that no one else has anything like your product, but do you know if that’s because of any legal restrictions?
Don’t go it alone – You don’t know everything, so look to partner with experts in their field to relieve the burdens of starting up. Need help in getting feedback on your product? Make use of early adopters / initial users to help create and refine. Not only will this provide helpful assistance and new perspectives, the more you are able to share the burden, the more you mitigate the risk of burnout.
The whole process of starting your own tech business might sound daunting and hard, but a perfect idea, the right action plan, a clear goal to solve problems using technology, and a great tech team, will surely position you ahead in the competitive market.