How We Made A ‘Minimum Viable Product’ For 2 Years And It Just Sucked!

Minimum Viable Product - Image Credit Paul Kortman
Minimum Viable Product – Image Credit Paul Kortman

Back in 2010, our outsource model was growing. We were getting medium scale projects. I always worried about delivery of these with the limited amount of technical resources we had back then. After a few months of discussion, I ended up hiring one of close friends from an outsource model to head the technical team along with more technical staff. During the same time, I was learning so many lean startup techniques as well. Back then, it wasn’t called Lean Startups or Lean Development or whatever the fancy names we are used to hear now a days. I was just identifying what worked best to deliver products we were working on, the fastest possible way.

So the idea was pretty simple. I was on many different social networks and all of them were cluttered with so much junk data I didn’t want to read. I used social media to connect with people that I wanted to approach or stay in touch with. Most of them were my customers. That data was like gold for me! I was reading about what my clients and prospects would like in their real lives, their dislikes, personal info and the whole nine yards. I talked to them the best possible way they wanted to hear based on what I gathered from this social data. Their birthdays, funerals, weddings were so important for me. Going tru Facebook feeds, Twitter’s, LinkedIn’s Feed was a pain. I technically end up spending more than 2 or 3 hours a day trying to identify these types of information, which I called the ‘Pattern Breaking Events‘ in their social graph. I wanted something simple, some tool that gave me everything I wanted to know about my customers. I wanted to send flowers on their birthdays, I wanted to reach out to them if they are having issues with anything at all! That made a very special bond. They started reaching out to me every time they needed help.

I first had the discussions with my friend who was just hired and we started working on the product mid 2010. Of cause most of these big data companies didn’t exist back then so the approach had to different if it was to be built now and my friend was working at an outsource model for nearly five years and his approach to code products was way different than what I imagined it would be. There were number of times we had heated arguments on reaching milestones, committing code and whatever else involved in building technology products. I spoke to so many people about what I was working on and they all wanted the product when it was built. They all wanted to find easier ways to reach out to their contacts. In short, while we were arguing and making very slow progress is having the actual product ready, a service called Connected was launched in 2011 and was acquired by LinkedIn in late 2011. They were on the similar lines in what we were working on. By the time LinkedIn integrated the technology and the features they had, it was exactly like the features we had in our product! So the bottom line was, we had a great idea and while we failed to execute the idea, another company was launched, acquired and integrated in to LinkedIn along with almost each and every feature that was on the initial product mockups we had.

With a lot of experience in social space, I started working on a new product to measure skills. I want to make it the standard for Skills Measurement. Sign-up to get early access.


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