After today’s entrepreneurship talk for one of Emory’s MBA classes, several of the students lined up to ask me questions. One of the questions was essentially “Do you have a finance person that helps decide when to build a new product?” I quickly said that we didn’t have a finance person help us decide and that it was still based on a gut decision and customer driven input.
This provided a good segue into describing what I think is necessary for new product development and what I think our core competency is as a company. As for a new software product, assuming you are already following Steve Blank’s advice, I think it is critical to have a domain expert product manager and a separate lead developer software engineer. With today’s awesome web app frameworks, a small, two person team can really put together a prototype of just about anything. In my company, I believe our core competency can be distilled down to three main areas:
- Scalable web applications
- Online lead generation and marketing
- High quality customer service
So, while I don’t have more specifics on deciding to build a new product, I look at what we do best generally, solicit feedback on the idea from internal and external stakeholders, and then make a decision one way or another. Also, don’t be afraid to kill a product if it isn’t going to be successful. We stopped development of a product over two years ago after working on it for several months, and we should have stopped even sooner.