Product Development for Startups: How to Get Started

A small team working at a startup

Developing a product for your startup is no less than an adventure. You’ll find challenges at every level and around every corner, from finding your audience and analyzing their demographics to creating and launching the right solution and everything in between.

We’ll explore each aspect of the startup product development process, from ideation and design to MVP creation and the final launch.

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Idea Generation and Screening

The first product development step begins with creating your idea. Whether it’s from brainstorming with your co-founders or performing thorough market research, the result should be an idea the entire team is happy with.

It’s important to screen multiple ideas to determine the great ones amongst them, which is why startups typically work with a software development partner during this stage. Using their technical expertise, they can evaluate the viability of your ideas based on their previous experience developing products in similar industries.

Concept Validation

The next phase entails developing the concept behind your product. Once you flesh out your idea into all of its components, you have a valid concept.

Whoever is developing your product can help you come up with the small details of your software, like which features are must-haves and which ones are good-to-haves. Then, you can share your concept and your product’s features with your target customer group, ideally helping them visualize the final product. This is the time to ask your future customers questions about your idea, determine if it actually solves their problems, and ensure they understand the concept.

Business Viability Testing

The third phase focuses on determining your branding and marketing strategies, evaluating your idea’s profitability, analyzing your competitors, and working out the associated costs with your pricing strategy.

It’s crucial to analyze the overall business viability of your idea and product. During this phase, the person or team developing your product should provide you with a set of metrics, enabling you to gain insights into every part of your product launch individually. These insights can help you work out loopholes or gaps in your idea, allowing you to work on them accordingly.

A UI/UX sketch

UX and UI Design

The fourth stage is one of the most crucial for new product development —  it’s when your startup starts going from ideation to realization. There’s no doubt that the design of your product needs to focus on the end-user, which is why UX and UI design is so critical.

During this phase, the major requirements of your product should be 100% clear to you and your software partner. You’ll work on creating a vivid picture of the final product, getting a rough estimate on development costs, filling out a business requirement document, and considering your user requirements and sales objectives to implement your idea accordingly.

Related: How Startup Equity Works

Minimum Viable Product Development

Almost every successful startup will create a minimum viable product (MVP). The result is a usable product that provides the absolute minimum in functionality and allows you to gather meaningful feedback from your target customers. This development process is about creating a functional product with the minimum amount of money and development time possible.

Depending on the feedback you get about your MVP, this is the time to make changes, discuss different implementation options with your development partner, and customize the development process according to your startup’s needs.

Test Market Adoption

After you create and distribute your MVP, it’s time for the next step. You need to evaluate how your target customers accepted the product, make any necessary design changes, and take foolproofing your product development process to a deeper level.

With your development team, you need to look at which features or services your target customers used the most and which ones were not used extensively. Based on the results, you should be able to pinpoint the features you need to focus on when developing the final product.

Product Development and Testing

Now that you’ve analyzed how the market responded to your MVP, you can focus on developing and testing a more finalized product. The person or team developing your product will play a crucial role during this process; they own the responsibility for your success or failure at this stage.

You’ll work together to begin further developing your MVP or changing your coding architecture based on adding new features, reworking old ones, etc. Once the first iteration of your product is fully developed, they’ll also help you thoroughly test it to ensure that there are no major bugs when you finally launch your product.

Product Launch and Commercialization

Now comes the most exciting and nerve-wracking step: launching your product. It’s time to introduce it to the market and prepare for your customers’ responses. During this phase, you should continue working with the development team to implement data collection tools to track feedback. They can also help you with product support and making small changes to tweak different features and enhance your overall product.

After the launch is successful, your efforts will shift more to branding and marketing. Commercializing your product is crucial for selling it to the right customers. Your development partner will play a role by helping you implement monetization in the right way. It’s time to build the right set of tools to help you hit the most effective distribution channels, implement customer support, and devise effective advertising strategies.

Related: Small Business Grants Guide

Turn ideas into reality light box sign

What Comes Next?

Hopefully, your launch was successful! However, your job isn’t finished yet. There are likely still some kinks to work out, and your pricing might not be finalized yet. You may have launched your product with a fixed price, but after the final implementation, you might need to rework it a little bit.

In addition, you still need to analyze the costs of running your software infrastructure, frequently assess its performance, and continue collecting customer feedback to further improve your product.

Developing your startup’s project likely takes a lot of R&D — Did you know that startups can get significant tax credits for their research and development processes? Learn how TaxRobot can help.

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