How to Achieve Product-Market Fit for Your Digital Venture

How to Achieve Product-Market Fit for Your Digital Venture

This article provides a cornucopia of useful information on many aspects of a successful digital venture, with a strong focus on figuring out the product-market fit.

Building a well-designed digital venture that provides a compelling experience offers little value without a target market. In fact, all that effort writing code and crafting a seamless UX simply gets wasted if your company achieves little to no product-market fit. It’s ultimately a scenario that highlights the critical nature of identifying a product market before one line of code is written. 

Both startups and enterprises must use a modern iterative software development methodology that places market fit on an equal footing with the technical requirements for the app or platform. Iteration throughout the project also provides the technical team with meaningful insights from users and business stakeholders. Their value goes beyond only opinions on the technical aspects of the app. In addition, they also provide a window into the venture’s potential market fit. 

Ensuring your organization builds well-crafted digital ventures that also successfully target a chosen market becomes easier with the right resources. This article provides a cornucopia of useful information on many aspects of a successful digital project, but with a strong focus on figuring out the market fit. Don’t let your business suffer the fate of a great mobile app or interactive website that never finds its audience. 

A Great Business Idea Means Little Without a Million-Dollar Plan 

The greatest idea in the history of the business world likely ends up in failure without a well-considered plan to transform it into a compelling product, platform, or app. Of course, identifying the target market for a digital venture must be a prime goal early in any project planning task. Let business considerations drive the technology aspects of the initiative – not the other way around. 

In fact, focusing on building something for a specific market puts the right emphasis on brand identity in your venture. Targeting the right user base ultimately provides a better chance of a successful project, compared to the quality of the app or website. Of course, giving users a seamless technology experience is also critical. However, never let the technical considerations of a project hold sway over its potential market. 

Execution Remains The Secret Sauce For Any Compelling Idea 

Ultimately, great business ideas tend to be a dime a dozen. Most CEOs are able to generate a few new ideas over lunch. However, matching an idea to its market followed by turning it into an effective digital venture requires a strong measure of secret sauce. 

So researching ideas for new products and platforms makes little sense without a compelling business use-case. Instead, analyze viral products that successfully identified their target markets. Try to find niches within those user communities that aren’t being fully served. Within these lies the opportunity for success. 

Understand Your Customers Before Attempting to Disrupt Your Industry 

Some startup organizations hope to disrupt their chosen industry before truly understanding the business sector and their customer base. It’s another scenario where the technically-inclined tend to approach things in a backwards fashion. Assuming a state of the art mobile app or website provides the means to transform an industry without truly understanding that business sector simply reeks of arrogance. 

Simply put, knowing a customer base is a critical requirement before designing any product to make their lives better. This rule remains one reason many industry insiders who know all about their business sector’s specific pain points end up forming successful startups. It’s also why established companies with years of experience serving a specific industry can leverage those insights to become more successful with each successive venture.

Enterprises Can Innovate Just As Well As Startups 

Understanding an industry’s unique pain points becomes easier when you’ve spent time serving that business sector. It provides the crucial hands-on experience to learn what current processes require a digital transformation. 

After all, how do you expect your next digital venture to lead the conversation within its industry without significant and relevant domain knowledge? You don’t learn this information purely from third-party market research. Instead, you need to get your hands dirty, dealing with obsolete technology processes and the pain of inefficiency. Each venture helps your company improve market knowledge and get closer and closer to product market fit.

Outsource Innovation to Gain The Expertise Necessary For Success 

A full understanding of an industry’s unique pain points takes a business only so far. Your company also needs access to technology professionals well-versed in the latest IT innovations. These include concepts like AI and machine learning, enterprise mobile app development, and cloud-based service architectures. They provide the critical technical sheen necessary to craft a transformational app or website. 

If your company lacks the required know-how, outsourcing this technical expertise makes perfect sense. At the same time, consider partnering with experts that truly understand the business domain your startup product hopes to target. Remember, a compelling app or digital platform ultimately boasts little value without a meaningful market fit. When any company lacks sufficient technical and/or business expertise, hire the right professionals to improve your chances of a successful initiative. 

Partner With a Digital Agency With a Portfolio of Successful Projects 

Many successful digital agencies enjoy practical experience in both the technical and business sides of any IT initiative. Their software engineers understand modern iterative methodologies, like Agile and Lean Startup. The latest technology innovations seem like second nature after completing a variety of successful projects. They also employ business analysts with relevant experience in the industry sectors your startup hopes to disrupt. 

Partnering with this kind of agency ultimately gives your digital venture a better chance of success. You gain critical access to the technical and business experience ensuring your digital venture makes a full impact on its target market. In the end, a failure to outsource the talent you emerging business needs just might make canceling the project a better use of resources.  

Best Practices For Growing a Tech Startup 

Successful tech startups typically find the right mix of a great product – mobile app, website, or platform – combined with a near-perfect market fit. However, as the startup studio scene matured over time, this thriving community gradually developed a collection of best practices for emerging technology businesses. Let’s take a closer look at a few worth using at your nascent startup. 

For example, working in a market niche matching the skill set and experience level of your management team provides the understanding of the specific pain points in that industry. This knowledge offers a valuable source of digital venture ideas to serve that business sector. At the same time, your company needs to employ a skillful technology team able to successfully manage projects and craft compelling and well-designed software assets.

Choose a Modern, Iterative Software Development Methodology 

Iterative software methodologies remain a critical piece in any development shop. It’s a major reason for the continued popularity of Agile and similar variants. They ensure that any issues get discovered early in the process when they are easier (and less costly) to fix. Older methodologies tend to be risky, as finding a critical error right before the release of an app or website likely requires too much capital to fix. 

Also choose a methodology that provides an opportunity to learn more about the inherent business problem to be solved. Learning also becomes crucial when analyzing the market fit for your company’s digital product. Once again, a technically superior mobile app offers little chance for success if it fails to meet the needs of the product’s target market. 

Our Bespoke Version of The Lean Startup Methodology 

Notably, NineTwoThree leverages our own version of the Lean Startup software development methodology. Lean Startup focuses on crafting a minimum viable product (MVP), a highly functional prototype enabling users and testers to interact with the app or website throughout a project’s lifecycle. Like any Agile variant, it provides the critical interaction that ensures any design problems or bugs are found as early as possible. Remember what we said about the high cost of fixing issues right before an app’s release?

Our version of Lean Startup uses a Learn-Measure-Build project cycle, essentially reversing the approach of the original. Why? We feel our model places the right amount of emphasis on learning. We learn about the underlying business problem and how to measure how well the app/website solves this issue before one line of code gets written. This cycle repeats itself throughout the entire project, resulting in a digital venture that truly meets the needs of the user base.

Accurately Measuring The Impact of Each MVP Build 

As noted earlier, Lean Startup focuses on building an actionable prototype known as the MVP – minimum viable product. This approach allows business stakeholders to actually use an app throughout the project, while providing insights on what changes need to happen to ensure hitting the target market. The Measure phase in each cycle requires buy-in from both the technical team and the stakeholder community on the right metrics to track the efficacy of an MVP. 

Creating a mutable test plan becomes critical for this scenario. This ensures the testing criteria seamlessly changes throughout the project as lessons are learned and new features get implemented. Accurately measuring the impact of each build cycle keeps the project on track and the technical and business teams working together in a copacetic fashion. 

Why Does Building an MVP Make Sense For Your Digital Venture? 

As highlighted above, the minimum viable product (MVP) remains a key deliverable throughout any software project following the Lean Startup methodology. The MVP lets QA personnel and business stakeholders actually use the app throughout the entire project lifecycle. It’s essentially an evolving prototype that results in a finished product when the initiative completes. 

We already mentioned how the MVP provides the project with critical feedback throughout the project. A flashy prototype with a measure of sizzle also serves to attract additional venture capital investments if necessary. Don’t forget that building an MVP ultimately saves time and resources compared to using older software development methodologies. It also helps test the validity of the concept before investing in a full development effort. 

Using an MVP to Validate The Target Market For Your Digital Venture

In addition to vetting the technical aspects of an app, the MVP provides the means to vet the targeted market fit for any digital venture, provided the project team includes members who understand the pain points of this market. One option involves publishing a functional prototype on the App Store or Google Play and analyzing the subsequent sales and usage metrics. This valuable data helps inform any design changes or other functionality. Of course, any demographic data also provides valuable information on the app’s potential target market. 

Overwhelming Your Business Problems 

As an aside, let’s discuss a venerable strategy that dates back to the era of Julius Caesar, overwhelming business problems ensures they ultimately cause little damage to your organization. This approach involves compartmentalizing the issue and throwing all resources at it until it’s handled. Any company trying to manage multiple issues at once – especially in the middle of crafting a digital venture – needs to consider this tactic to squash any critical problems before they multiply. 

While this strategy might distract your team from other tasks, dealing with the most important problems provides a sense of accomplishment. It reduces stress levels, while letting your team return to their normal project work. Most importantly, it prevent critical issues from metastasizing and adversely affecting other aspects of the project. As that 70s FRAM oil filter commercial states: “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” 

Evaluating Potential Digital Ventures is Essential 

Any digital agency likely generates a whole host of ideas for new mobile apps or platforms. Identifying the most promising opportunities among a collection of potential digital ventures becomes critical. After all, wasting your valuable time and resources on an idea with poor market fit or little opportunity for success needs to be avoided at all costs. 

Having a strategy to evaluate digital ventures helps your team focus on the right ones. Identifying the pain points that motivate users to embrace your app lies at the heart of this approach. From a business standpoint, users want products to reduce costs while improving their productivity. Additionally, companies hope to simplify complex processes that lack meaningful support in their industry sector. Keep these points in mind during your evaluation, but performing significant market research is also important. 

Research The Market Before Starting a Digital Venture Project 

Once again, identifying a potential business idea that handles a relevant pain point boasts little chance of success without a strong market fit. This scenario requires your organization to research the potential market for your digital venture before engaging the project team. If your leadership boasts experience within the targeted sector, all the better. 

If not, outsourcing the business acumen necessary to perform the market analysis makes perfect sense, as noted earlier. Map out the potential business opportunities to identify those with the highest potential for a digital transformation. This approach helps verify the ultimate fit for your next digital venture. 

Delivering Product Value Needs to Be Your Agile Manifesto 

We previously discussed the importance of using a modern, iterative software development methodology, like Lean Startup, a variant of Agile. The publishing of the Agile Manifesto in the late 90s began this movement toward iteration in software projects. This approach saves costs while raising the chances of a successful project outcome, as noted earlier. 

Again, improved software development efficiency matters little without delivering product value that meets an acute market need. This is why we use our own bespoke methodology, based on Lean Startup. We focus on learning about a business problem and crafting a solution that ultimately solves the issue for the user community. It’s the best way to deliver true value. 

Working to Define What Product Value Actually Means

Of course, the project team and business stakeholder must work together to define “value” as it relates to a digital venture. It’s another reason that an iterative methodology makes perfect sense. Our take on Lean Startup provides the necessary interaction and communication to foster collaboration. 

Once everyone agrees on what product value means, it becomes easier to define the measurables used to track how an app or platform provides this value throughout the project. It ultimately plays a key role in each Learn-Measure-Build cycle during our initiatives. 

Never Reinvent The Wheel – Analyze Other Companies Digital Ventures Instead

Simply stated, crafting a digital venture offers little time to reinvent the wheel. You are probably too busy brainstorming compelling business ideas while spending significant time researching the market fit for the best ones. Part of this approach includes vetting other companies’ digital ventures as well as their efforts releasing them into a competitive marketplace. Learning from their mistakes and successes ultimately helps inform your own business’s approach. 

If you find another digital agency with a similar skill set and/or mission statement as yours, connect with them for a potential partnership. This is great way to close an experience gap with your business, while also benefiting from their own approach to crafting digital ventures. It’s a thriving community out there, with many companies focused on collaboration as opposed to competition. Take advantage of this resource! 

Find a Partner With The Same Software Development Methodology 

When searching for a potential partnership, look for an agency with a similar software development approach as yours. For example, if you both use Lean Startup, expect collaborating to become easier. Importantly, both organizations would share familiarity with the concept of an MVP and the importance of a well-defined Learn-Measure-Build phase. 

Wisdom from earlier projects also provides significant benefits when using Lean Startup. It’s easier to define measurable criteria and determine market fit. Sharing previous lessons learned also helps the project from initiation through completion. 

Measuring The Impact of Your MVP

Additionally, we previously discussed the importance of defining the measurable criteria used to track the impact of an MVP. Let’s provide more details on this critical part of any Lean Startup project. Defining a hypothesis and then determining the criteria to measure it serves as a good initial step. 

Innovation accounting is another great tactic. Use it to track customer metrics that are both actionable and measurable. Also leverage metrics to verify any assumptions made by your project team before the project or during the Learn stage. For example, the Net Present Value metric also provides a valuable window into the long-term success of your digital venture. 

Use a Discovery Session to Determine Product Market Fit

Before embarking on a digital venture, your company needs to prepare a path to success. Part of this effort involves conducting a discovery session with your senior project team to determine the business goals and market fit for the project. Not surprisingly, this is a research-intensive effort, both internally and externally. 

Also identify your existing technical and business resources to determine if you need to outsource any talent. Of course, a detailed analysis of similar competitor projects as well as the targeted market also needs to occur. Leverage all the information to craft a project roadmap detailing the product’s feature set, technology stack, and the talent needed to successfully complete the project. 

Brainstorm Potential Solutions With a Design Sprint 

Once your roadmap is completed, conduct a design sprint to brainstorm a host of potential solutions. Identifying what features to include with the first MVP serves as an appropriate deliverable from this effort. In fact, including a design sprint at the end of a discovery session remains a great option for using the time of your staff more effectively. 

Define a hypothesis for each potential solution to provide some criteria to vet during testing. Choose the best option with the strongest measurables as the MVP. In the end, you simply learn, measure, and build. 

If you are curious about analyzing the market fit for your compelling business idea, connect with NineTwoThree to ensure your digital venture finds success in a competitive market.

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