Startup Lifecycle Series: Stage Two – Product Development


The latest in our “Startup Lifecycle” series, this blog explores the second stage of startup growth: product development. Whether you are building a software, hardware or even non-product solution, a key component of this stage is to apply lean principles to the development of a minimum viable product or MVP. Eric Miller, Principal of Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT), shares his top-10 principles for lean product development.

  • Clearly define requirements and design to them
  • Requirements should be focused on customer value
  • Frontload the process with exploration and iterations
  • Create a level product development process
  • Balance expertise and cross-function integration
  • Design quality in to the product
  • Involve suppliers in the process
  • Develop expertise in your technical staff
  • Build in a culture of excellence and relentless pursuit of continuous improvement
  • Use standardization when possible, without blocking flexibility

Some additional tips from Eric:

Avoid feature bloat Entrepreneurs often become concerned with loss avoidance – or the inability to penetrate certain markets or reach certain customer segments if a product feature is not included. This is a dangerous misstep as it can incite the addition of unnecessary features into a product, taking it further from the true requirements of the customer.

Accept that your MVP will not be perfect Identify the key requirements of your customers and include only those features that solve for those needs. The purpose of an MVP is to save time and money while gaining valuable feedback, not to have a flawless product on the first try.

Design, document and improve upon the process Product development requires focus and structure. Document each step of the process to not only incorporate it for future iterations but also to instill a culture of quality in the people who implement it.

If you want to read more of Eric’s advice on lean manufacturing and other principles for developing your product, download the full Startup Lifecycle presentation on Slideshare. Also, be sure to check out our first post in the series, Stage One: Validation.

Greg BullockComment