product development

Is it Real? A Framework for Startup Decision-Making

An April 2012 case study of LoJack identified a situation where there was a portfolio of new product ideas and a desire to develop new “big i” Innovations. Their early products were closely tied to the unstable U.S auto market, and they were looking for a hedge against risk and new sources of growth. While expanding into international markets was appealing, they couldn’t resolve the difficulty in finding markets where relationships with recovery forces (e.g. Police) could easily be established.


The Circus Found a New Market & So Can You

In the late 1980s the circus industry was a dying caricature of itself, trudging through small towns and struggling to maintain a foothold nationally as spectacles more convenient and enduring grew in popularity. Philip Astley was the father of the circus, developing an innovative exhibition of feats and creatures that hitherto never existed. P.T. Barnum and George Bailey expanded Astley’s concepts, bringing value to villages and towns across America. However, the excitement and enthusiasm that once existed in the early 20th was displaced by moving pictures, national sports, and theatre/Broadway as more and more American shifted from small towns to metropolis.

AARRR: A Pirate’s View of Actionable Metrics

Here are the basics on actionable metrics for expanding your knowledge of how users can become customers. Just think like a pirate and say “Aarrr.” Your goal is to get users through the funnel from activation to revenue with as little drop-off as possible.

Instagram's Mike Krieger on Product Design

Mike Krieger from Instagram wrote an interesting piece at the 500 Startups’ Warm Gun Conference he called ‘Eight Principles of Product Design’ that follow nicely with Human Centered Design and the Lean Startup Methodology. He discussed how product developers can’t just do a few Google searches to try and understand their market. It’s critical that you spend time with customers, showing empathy to derive insights, themes and stories. Sounds an awful lot like HCD, no? What that means is that next time you want to get disruptive in the world of couponing, you better spend sometime at someone’s kitchen table watching them work their way through the Sunday paper.

Business Model Timeframes and Innovation Types

This analysis of business model timeframes and their relationship to types of innovation stems from an old Harvard Business review article I read a while ago (Darwin and the Demon, HBR 7/04).

As I’ve discussed in the past there are several types of innovation. Some people just can’t seem to get enough innovation and for those people I offer up 7 fantastic types. These types of innovation align with timeframes of a business models lifecycle.

1. Disruptive (Early Market): Apple anyone? The press loves this stuff because it makes waves that force other companies to react quickly and usually it takes rise from technological discontinuities. Early adopters and visionaries are the ones who are first to jump in line.

2. Application (Bowling Alley): Uses existing technology in new ways; The big brother government put GPS systems up in the skies and OnStar took applies them in the consumer space, thus helping me find the closest bakery even in foreign cities. The first pin has fallen, now the adjacent technologies and companies are ready to fall in line.

3. Product (Tornado): May stem from performance increase or cost reductions such as when ARM creates a new superfast mobile processor or Ford updates its latest Fusion line. Consumers are happy, but they sort of expected it. Imagine the marketplace being swept up by the new innovation – welcome to tornado alley.

4. Process (Early Main Street): This aligns closely with Sigma process improvements – a major example in this space is Wal-Mart’s inventory management. Consumers are happy because services and products are enjoyed more easily/cheaply. The first wave of growth has come and customers now expect systematic change over time.

5. Experiential marketing (Mature Main Street): This is really just polishing the surface to improve customer experience. A new GUI on Google’s home page or Facebook’s fancy new timeline feature. One experiential marketing innovation I truly love is in the realm of healthcare (surprise) – red coat greeters at Cleveland Clinic that don’t sit behind desks but are ready and waiting to serve visitors. Growth in the market has stalled and products no longer take center stage in the media.

6. Business model (Mature Main Street): Requires a new take on an existing value proposition such as Apple moving to retail stores or Target moving into the minute clinic space. The market is ready for major changes as leaders in the field have moved on to the next big thing.

7. Structural (End of Life): This type of innovation requires a major shift in response to global forces – I’m curious to see what UHG does in response to healthcare reform. The pipeline looks bright and I imagine great things will come soon. The fault line between what the companies has been selling and what customers demand – the path forward for companies has darkened until they reinvent a new product suite.