As a non-technical founder dealing with new product development stages – it can be a painful, frustrating, and expensive exercise. Time and time again many smart business people with or without a technical background have lost money through incorrect hires or decisions around product development stages.
In this podcast episode, Nelly Yusupova, founder of TechSpeak for entrepreneurs, shares the key new product development stages for successful tech project management.
TechSpeak for entrepreneurs is a workshop series where people learn to successfully manage technology teams and projects without being technical or learning how to code.
- The issue that entrepreneurs face when dealing with new product development stages?
- Does every business need to know how to manage new product development stages?
- The key to knowing what issue to address via a tech solution?
- Why no code tools don’t help with the successful management of new product development stages?
- 10 steps to successfully manage new product development stages
- 1. Validate and refine your idea
- 2. Build an interactive prototype of a possible solution
- 3. Create technical specifications for your prototype
- 4. Pick the right tools and technologies
- 5. Determine the price and budget and define your MVP
- 6. Hire a tech team to estimate and code the project
- 7. Design your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
- 8. Project manage the coding of the MVP
- 9. Hosting options, security and scaling techniques
- 10. Refine your product based on data
- Listen to the episode
- Some topics we discussed include:
- Links and resources mentioned
- Connect with Nelly
The issue that entrepreneurs face when dealing with new product development stages?
As a Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Nelly repeatedly encountered horror stories from founders and others where they lost large sums of money including seed funding.
Nelly first thought developers were to blame for taking advantage of unsuspecting founders but then realized the onus is on the founder to specify requirements and manage the project through to completion.
The problem she discovered in a lot of cases was that developers would understand or interpret the requirements that were provided in a completely different way than what the founder or entrepreneur wanted.
She then decided to solve the problem for founders and entrepreneurs via TechSpeak by teaching them how to communicate effectively and manage projects successfully through to completion.
Does every business need to know how to manage new product development stages?
Nelly says that every business in the next five years is going to be a tech business
Example of someone from a non-technical industry that has benefited from learning to manage new product development stages –
Even if you are a consultant you can only work so many hours in a day.
Now if you had a tech solution for what you do and your process then you can scale beyond your time limited abilities.
The key to knowing what issue to address via a tech solution?
Why no code tools don’t help with the successful management of new product development stages?
No code tools are just tools to help overcome the challenge of coding or knowing how to code. Crafting a solution is still a time-consuming process and you will still need to hire a developer or developers at some stage, manage them, put analytics into it, determine and manage a project budget.
A process is critical to successful new product development stages for technology related products. If you don’t have a process in place then you are more than likely to fall into the traps of miscommunication and misaligned project outcomes and requisites.
In other words, it’s really about building a process that helps you really listen to your customers and build what they want. That also enables tracking and scaling a lot faster and smoother.
Nelly explains the key philosophy that underpins successful tech project management in the video below.
You can invest in learning, but to successfully build out your new product development stages a lot of it comes down to mindset. There are two aspects Nelly believes is crucial:
- Believing that you as a non-technical person can run a tech product, that’s number one, that’s an overwhelming thing to think about for most non-technical entrepreneurs.
- Getting that self-confidence is going to be so important for any of this to work, and getting comfortable with the “Fail early and often and cheap” concept is so uncomfortable for people. You need to get used to the idea of failing and seeing failure as a learning opportunity and not being emotionally connected to it, which is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t even get into entrepreneurship.
Nelly advocates a methodical, analytical approach to building out technology solutions but it is also a way that helps build your influence with your audience.
10 steps to successfully manage new product development stages
The 10 step process for successfully managing tech projects or new product development stages are:
1. Validate and refine your idea
Sometimes we solve our own pain points, but we still need to go out and talk to customers. And the goal is really so that you can refine the idea, find those nuances that you can then bake into the product.
2. Build an interactive prototype of a possible solution
Let’s take an example of an entrepreneur who came up with 20 different features that people would love to have in their app.
The next step is to prototype it.
The idea behind prototyping is to simply and quickly test multiple solutions oftentimes, so that you can refine your idea further. Even if you want to use no code, Nelly recommends that you still do the prototype because prototypes are a lot faster than even no code, depending on how proficient you are.
For non-technical entrepreneurs, there are tools that will allow you to create a very interactive and realistic version of your app without writing any code.
Tip – You always want to know the why behind a potential customer’s feature request.
Because people oftentimes can’t tell you the solution and you should never ask them for the solution. You need to understand why they’re saying it, because once you understand the why, you can come up with a better solution. It’s your job as an entrepreneur to come up with the solutions, but you need to understand the whys and why people are asking for those things.
This then allows you to start creating a prototype. Which brings us to another essential skill that entrepreneurs need to master – prototyping
Prototyping is such an essential skill for entrepreneurs because it allows you to communicate visually in a way that words alone cannot suffice.Nelly Yusupova, founder of TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs
The initial prototypes may not be accurate, but as soon as you get the information out of your head and on paper, it becomes even clearer what you’re talking about.
Remember it is a process to get to what you need to build out.
Tip – Sometimes the simplest prototype is taking a piece of paper and pen or pencil and just sketching it out. That could be the very first version of your prototype.
So just getting the ideas out of your head is going to help you minimize that process even if you have to hire someone to help you prototype. Sketching out your ideas will save the time and money of even getting on the same page with your team, let alone speed up the process of development.
3. Create technical specifications for your prototype
Why do you need technical specifications when you have a prototype?
Because, details are missing in the prototype and could lead to disastrous unintended consequences. These could include:
- What needs to happen on the back-end, features, and functions of buttons on the back-end.
- A process that is needed for the business objectives to be achieved etc.
- Assumptions can lead to widely varying quotes for implementation
Tip – Produce the technical specifications yourself or use an outsourced CTO as opposed to a developer.
4. Pick the right tools and technologies
It’s important to have everyone on the same page with regard to project development.
With that in mind, you have to understand what you’re building and how you’re building it.
The next step is picking the right tools and technologies.
The tools and the technologies that you’re picking will affect how you’re going to build this thing, and that again feeds into the technical specifications.
5. Determine the price and budget and define your MVP
Now its time to estimate and then build your MVP, determine the budget and the costs to put various parts together.
Cost also needs to be allocated to the technical specifications.
What most people don’t account for are the details of what happens behind the scenes or what you’re going to build versus not going to build. All those details matter and they will determine what the cost/price of your product is.
What you decide to build for at first will affect the budget and specifications as well as time constraints.
You need to have these conversations on the trade-offs that you’re making to stay within the budget and to stay within your time frame.
Nelly says Developers are trained to write code. If you miss these steps then you’re at their mercy.
6. Hire a tech team to estimate and code the project
Let’s face it – You don’t know what you don’t know.
So as a first step get the ideas for your product prototype out of your head into a draft prototype or onto paper.
Start with the most obvious things.
Then hire a consultant of outsourced CTO to help refine it. You get their input on what are the best approaches from a technology tools perspective, from an estimation perspective on what are the possibilities of how you can break this up so that you can build it in pieces rather than all at once.
They can also point you in the right direction in terms of skill sets required to complete the project.
7. Design your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
There’s a widespread consumer expectation that something has to be super easy to use and also look good.
Therefore you need an understanding of good design elements and how to work with designers as they speak a different language too.
Nelly says – “Don’t gloss over the design, so you really need to understand what good design elements are”.
The key here is not perfection, it’s simplicity and effectiveness. As long as it’s clear and intuitive you can move on.
Look at Apple, their products are the simple. They stand and speak for themselves.
To Nelly, great design is one that does not stand in the way of users achieving an objective.
Tip – Get some of your early or potential customers to form an advisory panel to validate each step of the development of the project
8. Project manage the coding of the MVP
Use agile project management and processes
The premise behind Agile is that you are breaking this big project into smaller chunks, or sprints of two week durations.
Why do this?
- Get working code
- Are able to minimize mistakes and catch mistakes earlier.
- Can see whether your team is performing or not, if they are making buggy code or if they’re don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve.
- Can track progress easily
- You can even test the effectiveness of multiple teams
Take for example Etsy, a platform that sells handcraft related products. They do 150 deployments a day with a 400 person development team. All the more reason to invest in a similar process no matter how small your project.
In other words – release early, learn quickly and then refine.
9. Hosting options, security and scaling techniques
You need to have a strategic approach to scaling
the key for a lean startup is to monitor and anticipate growth and be prepared for when growth happens. So, you should have a plan.
That way you:
- Won’t be caught off-guard
- Can support your customers as you grow
- Minimize mistakes
- Won’t have to spend the time trying to prepare for scaling upfront.
10. Refine your product based on data
This is when the real work begins.
Instead of guessing what features and functionalities to improve, you can look into the data for answers and that will inform your next steps.
Tip – Focus on improving the product early on via data informed decisions.
Because you need to make sure that your product is growing and your customers are using it.
You will want to set up Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) related to user behavior.
In other words, you need to be able to answer the question – how many people are coming back to your app to use it as often as possible?
The more they come back, the more they resonate with it, the more chances they will pay you on a monthly basis (if it’s a SaaS product).
Listen to the episode
Some topics we discussed include:
- The problem TechSpeak for entrepreneurs solves
- Is technical new product development really meant for non-technical founders?
- Do no-code tools have a place in new product development
- Is process the only key to successfully executing on new product development stages
- The essential 10 steps in the process
- The scientific way of achieving customer validation
- The best ways to build a prototype
- Why build out technical specifications
- How to deal with – you don’t know the things you don’t know
- The best ways to hire technical people for your team
- The panel that help your new product development stages by leaps and bounds
- Nelly’s take on agile project management to successfully manage projects
- What Nelly finds makes some of her students more successful than others
- and much more
0:00:00 Vinay Koshy: Dealing with new product development stages as a non-technical founder can be a painful, frustrating and expensive experience. Time and time again, many smart business people with or without a technical background have lost money through incorrect hires or other decisions they made around product development stages. This is where our guest comes in. She says she's on a mission to make technology as easily understandable as she can for you so you can fast track your success. She is a CTO, startup tech advisor, speaker and entrepreneur. She was recently included in the Fast Company's League of Extraordinary Women, amongst a whole host of other stellar accomplishments. But perhaps what is most relevant to our conversation today, is that she is the founder of TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs, a workshop series where people learn to successfully manage technology, teams and projects without being technical or learning how to code. Nelly Yusupova, welcome to the podcast.
0:01:03 Nelly Yusupova: It's such a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me. I'm looking forward to our conversation.
0:01:08 Vinay Koshy: Terrific to have you Nelly. Nelly, I'm curious, when you started TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs, what was the original problem you were trying to solve for? And has that changed over time?
0:01:21 Nelly Yusupova: Sure. Yeah, it actually hasn't changed so much. The reason why I created TechSpeak, so just kinda going back a little bit through my journey as a... I'm a CTO and I've worked with lots of tech teams, and through... As my position in the industry changed, what I started doing is going out and training and speaking across the country and around the world, and what happened after every single event, people saw me maybe as a tech doctor or maybe I'm a female... A CTO, and they felt like they could share all these horror stories with me. And I literally heard horror story after horror story after horror story where like $60,000, $100,000, first round of seeding, seed funding, completely blown out of proportion and lost where... Simply because entrepreneurs didn't know what they were doing. And initially I actually blamed developers for this, I couldn't understand how these developers could take advantage of these poor entrepreneurs this way. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, yes, there could be bad developers, but most likely the onus is on the entrepreneur because they don't understand how to communicate clearly and properly, they can't specify requirements properly, and they have different expectations, tech language and business language is completely different.
0:02:40 Nelly Yusupova: So they could be saying something and the developer is understanding it in a completely different way. They also completely trusted the tech team to just run with the idea, and then obviously when it came back to them, it wasn't what they expected, they were upset and they were like, "This is not what I wanted." And so after realizing that, I was like, "Okay, the entrepreneur is the problem here. So if I can teach them how to communicate, if I can teach them the process they should be using, then all of these issues should be gone." And so that's what... That's how TechSpeak was born. And initially it used to be an in-person event, and now it's completely online post-COVID, and I'm really excited about that because now anyone can... From around the world can take it.
0:03:29 Vinay Koshy: Excellent. And I'm also curious, what would you say, given your wealth of experiences to date, is your personal area of strength?
0:03:40 Nelly Yusupova: I think my personal area of strength is really understanding the non-technical founder and what it's like not knowing anything about tech, because in fact, I came back... I came from a very non-technical background. I decided to study computer science in college after thinking that this is really the way to go. I knew nothing about tech, I'd never turned on a computer. I decided to go there because I knew that if I went into that field that I would always be making money, that was my original impetus. I'm a first generation immigrant, I was always looking for a good, easy way to make money. And what I didn't realize initially is that computer science meant that you could write code and tell computers what to do, but in fact, I thought it was gonna teach me how to use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel really, really well. [chuckle] So that's where I came from, and it was so hard for me to get used to the idea of what programming was, what technology was, and I had to learn it all from scratch, so when I teach this information to entrepreneurs, I feel their pain, I know what it's like to talk to people who are much more technical than me and talk down to me as though I was dumb, and it's a pain that I literally feel every single time when I speak to a non-technical entrepreneur. And so, I think that comes through when I teach, and so I never... I'm very technical now, and I never talk down to anyone, it's just... It's not in my DNA because I just felt that pain.
0:05:17 Vinay Koshy: Excellent. And maybe you've already touched upon this, but I was gonna ask in that area of strength, what is something that businesses don't know but should?
0:05:30 Nelly Yusupova: About me? Or...
0:05:32 Vinay Koshy: Yeah. Your personal area of strength.
0:05:36 Nelly Yusupova: So I think that... I'm not sure exactly... I'm not sure I understand the question. Can you...
0:05:41 Vinay Koshy: So, you were saying that you understand non-technical founders and certainly identify with the pain of being talked down to by people from obviously a technical background. Perhaps, I was thinking that in the lead up to this that, that would be something that businesses often don't necessarily recognize that there are non-technical people out there that need to be spoken to in a slightly different way.
0:06:10 Nelly Yusupova: Oh yeah.
0:06:10 Vinay Koshy: And address their pain points as opposed to people with a technical background.
0:06:14 Nelly Yusupova: I think it's a skill that no matter where you are, whether tech or business or finance, I think it's important to understand who you're talking to and understanding your audience.
0:06:24 Vinay Koshy: Certainly, yeah.
0:06:24 Nelly Yusupova: And tailor the conversation to them. So, whether you're in sales... And this is also very relevant in any single... Anytime you talk to anyone about your idea or whether it's an investor or a salesperson or a marketing person, or your customer, you have to understand where they come from. Because if you can talk to them on their level and empower them to understand what you're talking about, it's going to make them feel so amazing. And so much of sales and buying is about emotional connection. So, if you can make that emotional connection and empower the person, that's gonna be such a position of strength no matter what it is that you're doing. And I think it's a skill set that everyone should work on no matter what.
0:07:10 Vinay Koshy: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. Having said that, as we look at a world where technology is certainly being quite invasive in our lives and permeates just about every facet of it, would you say that something like TechSpeak is for anyone in the business space, that it is useful for anyone in the business space, irrespective of whether they feel that they have a new product that they wish to launch or whether it's a new process that needs to be automated?
0:07:44 Nelly Yusupova: I absolutely think so. I think in the next five years, every business is gonna be a tech business. And so if you're not familiar with technology, if you're not sure how to leverage technology and actually incorporate a tech aspect into your business, no matter what your business is, it's going to put you off the map, I think in general. So, one thing that I also think technology enables businesses, especially non-traditionally technical businesses, or sorry, non-technical businesses traditionally, is the fact that it can help you scale your business outside of your location or the one-on-one... Where you're trading hours for money.
0:08:31 Vinay Koshy: Certainly.
0:08:32 Nelly Yusupova: If you're a consultant, you can only work x number of hours in a day. And so there's... If you had a tech solution that could do what you're doing and maximize your process, you can then scale beyond what you can do. And so if you have a tech product or a software solution that will allow you to scale, and I can share a couple of examples, if that would be helpful...
0:08:57 Vinay Koshy: Sure, sure.
0:08:58 Nelly Yusupova: Just to make it more concrete. The first one that I'd like to share, and all of these examples are from people who attended TechSpeak, so that's how I know them, how I met them. So, the first one was a realtor who worked in the business for many, many years, no traditional technical background. I mean, real estate is as non-technical as they come, but he had a very specific domain expertise and he saw an issue and a problem on a daily basis, that he thought that inefficiency could be solved with software really, really well. And his cousin came to TechSpeak, I think six months before, and so they worked together on a prototype and they took this prototype without writing code, they took this prototype to a real estate agency and they loved the idea because it was such a big pain point. And they bought the idea before the product even existed. This is called a pre-sale and he then came to TechSpeak learn how to actually build it, but that's such a powerful example because to me, every single person has some kind of domain expertise that they're not thinking about software.
0:10:08 Nelly Yusupova: But you are seeing problems every single day, inefficiencies every single day that no one else can copy because number one, you have to have an entrepreneurial mindset. You have to be able to look for problems and then realize that they could be solved with software. But if you can find really these type of problems are really good product ideas because they solve what I call a painkiller problem. It's such a very specific problem that can solve a very specific issue. And if you can find a painkiller problem, then people are much more willing to pay you for it and use it as well. So, that's a great example. Next one is social media consultants, we talk about consultants trading hours for money, she worked with clients and every single month she used to do the same thing over and over and over and over again.
0:11:00 Nelly Yusupova: And she just got fed up with doing this repetitive work. So, she built a software for herself to help her manage the process with her clients and accelerate that to make it more efficient. And then she realized, "Well, if I'm having this problem as a social media manager, I can put this product out in the world for other social media managers." And she had a very unique perspective on this. It was her own process and it was her process that made this product so powerful. So, then she packaged it up, she made it a software product and is now a very successful entrepreneur selling this product to everyone who uses social media. And the last example is a yoga instructor, again, very non technical, she had a yoga studio in New York City and decided that she wanted to build an app to help parents and their kids do yoga together.
0:11:56 Nelly Yusupova: So, through this app, she instantly went beyond her one location in New York City and is able to sell this app to anyone in the world, to any parents who have kids in the world. And so this is a way of taking a very non-traditional business, something you're already doing and thinking outside the box and figuring out what problem can I solve that still aligns with what I'm doing, but now I have a software component that allows me to scale beyond the hours and the location and anything else.
0:12:29 Vinay Koshy: So, these are people in the examples that you just provided who certainly could see a pain point or a problem and wanted to address it. Of late, there's been a lot of conversation around the no-code tools, and there are courses out there which deal with a similar sort of issue of addressing a pain point and trying to develop a solution without coding. How is your process different and perhaps more effective than other processes out there?
0:13:02 Nelly Yusupova: Sure, so the process that I teach is actually... It's a process for managing projects and developers. Whether you use no-code or low-code or some other tools, you still have to have a process, you still have to come up and validate it, you have to prototype it because you need to understand what you're building and then you have to show it to customers before you start even doing no-code is actually a little bit misleading because you're sitting there doing the if and then statements and you're actually coding. It's just drag and drop coding, but it takes time, it's not like it's... You magically create software out of thin air. So, there's a little bit of misleading concept in there, just because it's called no-code, people assume that there's no code, but there is coding done, it's just done slightly differently. So it's still a time-consuming process, but you still need to... If you're an entrepreneur and don't want to actually do the work and you wanna hire a no-code developer to help you do this, you still have to manage them, you still have to put analytics into it, you still have to determine the budget for the project.
0:14:11 Nelly Yusupova: All of these things are a part of the process that I teach, the technology that you pick is one of the modules that I teach is, how do you pick the right technology, and if you're in the early, early stages, you should be looking at no-code, SaaS products and APIs and all third-party solutions to stitch your product together for your minimal viable product, but it does not mean that you don't have a process, because as soon as you don't have the process is where you're going to create all of these mistakes that I talked about, miscommunications, not being on the same page, not communicating what needs to be built or building too much. Oftentimes, one of the biggest issues that I see is you want to... You have an idea for a product, you have... That consists of, let's say, 20 features, and you wanna build all 20 of them at the same time, but what if you show them to potential customers and you realize that only these top three are the must-haves? And those are the top three that I should focus on right now, and then what I find is as you release those to customers, then you watch them use it, you may realize that those other 15 features may never need to get built, because as you're starting to see users interact that you might realize that, "Oh, they would love these. And on top of that, they need this."
0:15:30 Nelly Yusupova: Or as you're starting to see the product evolve, you may never build those other things, or you may build them differently than you originally planned. So to approach this product development process in this one linear fashion is where you waste a lot of time and money and energy because you don't wanna build more than you have to and you want to get your product in front of your customers as soon as possible so that you can start to refine it and learn and iterate through learning, that's what I focus on, rather than saying, "Okay, I have no code tools and I'm just gonna follow the same process that fails, so that I can save time."
0:16:16 Vinay Koshy: Right.
0:16:16 Nelly Yusupova: But really, you're gonna make the same exact mistakes.
0:16:19 Vinay Koshy: Certainly. So, even though you're very much focused on process, it's really about building a process that helps you listen, really listen to your customers and build up what they want, so that enables scaling which will come double track and make that a lot faster and smoother. Okay, and I believe you've got 10 steps in your overall process. Is that correct?
0:16:46 Nelly Yusupova: Yes, yes, absolutely.
0:16:49 Vinay Koshy: Could you walk us through it and maybe with an example so that we can kind of wrap our heads around what it entails or looks like?
0:16:57 Nelly Yusupova: Sure, so just to kind of answer your previous question as well, or your previous statement, so my process is very much focused on two philosophies. One of them is fail early, fail often, fail cheap, or another way of saying it is learn early, learn often, learn cheap. And the idea is that you are minimizing the learning loop so that you can maximize the opportunity and minimize... So that it allows you to see those red flags sooner, so that you can adjust much quicker. And that's the whole premise behind it. And it's all about the Lean and Agile methodologies. And again, so that you can minimize risk, spot the red flags sooner and get to success faster, so it's not about what tools or how you do things, it's really about how to fail early and often and cheap with every single step of the way. So kind of just to preface it, because if you don't subscribe to that, you're not gonna like the process, but what I found through many years of working with teams and working with products and building products, and actually seeing so many different startups, what I find as a number one area of mistake is that entrepreneurs have an idea and they jump into coding too soon, so in my process, writing code is step number eight.
0:18:30 Vinay Koshy: Right. Okay.
0:18:34 Nelly Yusupova: That means that if you're thinking, I have a product idea and I need to hire a developer that's the biggest mistake you can make, because if you follow the first seven steps, by the time you get into coding, the whole process or the whole coding process is becoming a no-brainer because you've already eliminated all of the questions. So let's very quickly go through this so I thought about of an example, let's take a person with no technical background who has an idea for an app to help parents set up play dates for their kids. So it's... I wanted a specific example that people can wrap their heads around, so the first step this entrepreneur should do is to validate and refine the idea.
0:19:20 Nelly Yusupova: So even though we think RADs are perfect, sometimes we solve our own pain points, we still need to go out and talk to customers. And the goal is really so that you can refine the idea, find those nuances that you can then bake into the product. So, for example, let's say, before speaking to customers, she made an assumption, and I don't know why I thought this entrepreneur was a she, but apparently it's a she, she assumed that parents would want to set up their play dates based on age group, but in reality, she might discover that it's not based on age group, it's based on interest. Age didn't really matter as long as they all wanted to do art, or as long as they all wanted to do music. So, that subtle difference will affect the way you design your product experience, the way you think about it.
0:20:18 Nelly Yusupova: And imagine now you have 20 different subtle differences like that, or 20 different insights like that that you didn't anticipate. Now, you could have eventually found those out, but if you did... If you found those insights before you started building, then you can already bake those straight into the product and addressed specific pain points that people already care about it. That's a big difference between like... This step is the most important step. You never wanna write code until you actually validate the idea, whether it's the initial product idea... I do this for every single feature in my existing... Let's say the product is built, every single feature that I think is brilliant, goes through this process because the way that you think is brilliant, is not necessarily the brilliance that it comes out to be. Or, it could be completely flops, so you never wanna build anything that you don't actually understand what is the specific problem that it solves.
0:21:22 Nelly Yusupova: So, let's say she does that, and she came up with 20 different features that people would love to have in the app. So, the next step is to prototype it. Even though if you're gonna be doing no code, I actually would recommend that you're still doing the prototype because prototypes are a lot faster than even no code, depending on how proficient you are. Let's say you are a no-code developer, you might wanna do prototype in the no-code system, but for non-technical entrepreneurs, there are tools that will allow you to create a very interactive and realistic version of your app without writing any code. And the idea behind prototyping is that they're so simple to do, they should be so quick to do that you can test multiple solutions oftentimes, so that you can refine your idea further. So, one of the startups that I was working with, we did the first iteration, showed it to customers, and we completely went to the drawing board.
0:22:23 Nelly Yusupova: They totally hated the idea, they couldn't understand it. Then we refined it, second time, we got it better, like 50% of the way there, but it wasn't fully responding to customers or resonating with them, so we only got it done on the third try, and now imagine if we jumped into coding again, right after that validation step, we would have had to rewrite so much code which is so expensive. So, you wanna avoid that step. So build a prototype so that you can show it to customers, validate, refine the ideas, and also refine any usability issues, as you're starting to watch your customers interact with your product, you can do that as well.
0:23:05 Vinay Koshy: Can I just ask a question around this entrepreneur who has figured out the 20 odd features that she would like to incorporate, what would be the best way to do that? Because often we are told, "Go ask your potential customers." Is there a better way to do that, because often that can be quite a painful experience in itself, just with getting them interested and so on and so forth.
0:23:33 Nelly Yusupova: Yeah, I think talking to your customers is the best way because there is a very specific process of... In the validation step, there's like a three-hour process that we go through to interviewing customers. It's like a scientific way of doing it, it's not like you're gonna come to the customer and ask them point black questions, that's not gonna get you the answers that you need, you have to be like Oprah, get them to trust you, get them to tell you their stories. If somebody is talking and really excited about a specific feature, you can tell that in the interview, and that's how you determine what are the number one things, what are the number two things, how lukewarm are they about all of these other things.
0:24:16 Nelly Yusupova: And ultimately, when you're building a product, you have to know what are the things that must be in the product that still make it valuable. So, we talk about the MVP, what is the definition of the MVP? It's the minimal number of feature sets that are necessary to still provide value to your customer. Because sometimes it's three features, sometimes it's five features, but it's some set of features that make it more complete and sometimes you can't launch it without those five features. Those are the minimal requirements. So, that's... I think in the validation phase, you will have a better idea, and in the prototyping phase as well as people interact with your product on what features people are resonating with, which are the musts and you can actually ask them out of all of these things, which ones are the most relevant to you and why? So, you always want to know the why, because people oftentimes can't tell you the solution and you should never ask them for the solution. You need to understand why they're saying it, because once you understand the why, you can come up with a better solution. It's your job as an entrepreneur to come up with the solutions, but you need to understand the whys and why people are asking for those things. If that makes sense.
0:25:35 Vinay Koshy: And in building a prototype, you're suggesting that there's online tools that would allow to build an interactive prototype, is that correct?
0:25:46 Nelly Yusupova: Yes. There is lots of tools, if you just Google prototyping solutions, there's hundreds of them out there, depending on what your skill set is, depending on what your goals are, you can pick one or the other. Again, in the prototyping section, I have a very specific way that I teach that, but all the information is available online, and anybody can learn how to prototype. I think prototyping is such an essential skill for entrepreneurs because it allows you to communicate visually and oftentimes... Sometimes entrepreneurs come to me and they say, "I wanna build da da da da," and I wish they could just show me. It may not be accurate, but as soon as they get the information out of their head and on paper, it becomes even clearer to them what they're talking about. And sometimes the simplest prototype is taking a piece of paper and pen or pencil and just sketching it out. That's the very first version of your prototype. So just getting the ideas out of your head is going to help you minimize that process if you have to hire someone to help you prototype, 'cause sometimes you may not wanna do it yourself, that'll save the time and money of even getting on the same page, sketching out your ideas is going to speed up that process.
0:27:06 Vinay Koshy: So would you say that if you find that people like the idea of the prototype, that would be a good time to ask for a pre-sell? Like a special offer or something of that nature in order to ensure that people are willing to put their money where their mouth is or do you do it beforehand?
0:27:20 Nelly Yusupova: Absolutely. Yes, so if you want to do pre-sales or if you want to see... The ultimate validation is when people are willing to pay you money for your solution. So you should never ask them, "Will you pay me money for this solution?" Because most often, people will say yes. If you do ask that question, always follow it up. "So, can you pay for it?" And then if they say, "Oh, well, I wasn't expecting that." That's when you know that there's something there. There are people who will say, of course, and that's your number one biggest, if we talk about validation scores, the biggest validation score is when people are actually willing to pay you money. That's the biggest pain point that you're solving. So absolutely, if you wanna pre-sell, do it in this stage and see what the level of pain that you're solving. Oftentimes... I have this concept that I teach, painkiller versus vitamin. So you never wanna build a vitamin because vitamins are nice to have. If you forget a vitamin one day, nothing's gonna happen to you, but if you're going to do a root canal without a pain killer, you're like, "No, thank you."
0:28:34 Nelly Yusupova: And so you will pay any amount of money to stop that pain, and the same thing goes with products. If you build a vitamin and nice to-have product, then people will not return to it as often. They may not use it on a regular basis, which are all the things that you need to be able to charge money. If your goal is to charge money, you have to have a problem that solves a pain killer problem. So that's a level nine, 10, 11, 12 problem, versus a six or seven.
0:29:06 Vinay Koshy: Excellent, so once you've built up the prototype and you've got some degree of confirmation, where do you go from there?
0:29:15 Nelly Yusupova: So then you go into technical specifications. So one of the biggest questions I get from entrepreneurs is, "If I have a prototype, why do I need technical specifications? I already have this thing that developers can actually see and they can interact with it so they know how it should work." And that's the biggest, no, no, no, because there's a lot of details that are missing from the prototype. How you implement things, what you're gonna build on the back end versus the front end? There's so many things that are missing. Process, what's gonna happen when the button is clicked on a back end that you can't see in a prototype? And that's what technical specifications are. Those are all the details that are absolutely necessary for everyone to be on the same page. And you have to agree to them because if you don't do the technical specifications, you can... I don't know if you've ever received quotes. You can get a quote that's $10,000 and $50,000 for the same exact project and both could be correct because the assumption of one team is to do, let's say, all custom coding, and the other team is going to use all the third-party tools.
0:30:26 Nelly Yusupova: So there's some custom coding, but it's utilizing all third-party tools, so you have to understand what you're building, how you're building, and the next step is picking the right tools and technologies. And the tools and the technologies that you're picking all will affect how you're going to build this thing, and that all goes into technical specifications. So technical specifications is where you can start to write out the details yourself or you can have... What I recommend is either a consultant or a outsourced CTO or somebody on a higher level who can help you think on a bigger picture rather than a developer, because developers are not really good at actually planning without getting stuck to the details. And so oftentimes, also developers when it comes to picking the right tools and technologies, which is step number four, they will recommend things that they're familiar with rather than the best tool for the job. And when we're talking about technologies and picking the right technologies, if you're working with a third party like an agency or freelance developers, they'll always tell you to build more code because that's how they make money, and so you have to be mindful of that.
0:31:41 Nelly Yusupova: And so don't necessarily get developers to help you or freelance developers to help you with this process because they'll always tell you to write more code rather than using all those other tools that we just mentioned. So technical specifications, which is step number three and step number four, pick the right tools and technologies are really important to getting on the same page on what you're gonna be building. And step number five is estimating and then building your MVP, determining the budget and all of that cost, cost also will go into the technical specifications because what people don't realize, and this is what I teach in step number five, when we talk about estimating and budgeting is the details of what happens behind the scenes or what you're gonna build versus not, they all matter and they will determine what the cost is, what the price is. So sometimes you can build the front-end and completely not build the back end, or not create the administrative area, for example. Because you decide that that's not important to you at the moment, but that will affect the budget. That will also affect the specifications, so all of those step number three, four, five are all determining how you're gonna build this thing based on your budget and time constraints. Those are really important.
0:33:07 Nelly Yusupova: Most people say... Go to the developers and say, "I wanna build this thing. Tell me how much it's gonna cost." And developer will go through and say, "If we build everything, this is how much it's gonna cost." But this flips the whole thing on its head because you're saying, "I have this budget, tell me what we can do within it."
0:33:30 Nelly Yusupova: And it doesn't mean that one is wrong and one is not. You are having these conversations on the trade-offs that you're making to stay within the budget, to stay within your time frame. So if you wanna build something... If your goal is to build something within the next two months, then, okay, what do we need to do to make sure that that happens? So then it's very targeted conversation rather than completely trusting that process over to someone else. And oftentimes, the other person can't see all the details because they actually haven't talked through all the details with anyone. And that's when all of the miscommunications happen, which is why the delays happen, the scope creep happens, all of these horror stories that we've so far talked about happen because these steps are skipped. These steps are being left to the developer to determine, but developers are not really trained to think this way. They're trained to write code, and so if you skip these steps, you're at their mercy.
0:34:39 Vinay Koshy: And just going back to this example for the non-technical founder who wants to create this app, my understanding is that the technical specifications is essentially a document. Would that be correct? Right. And if we are to get this document right, and given that the founder doesn't have a technical background, would it be best to have someone with some technical experience to guide them through this process, because there may be aspects that they don't necessarily know or know to ask?
0:35:13 Nelly Yusupova: Exactly, so you don't know what you don't know is I think what you're saying. There's two ways to go around this, the first step could be, just like we did with the prototype to get everything out of your head. So you can start and write the most obvious things. And that will, again, save time and money, because if you hire someone they don't have to do that, obvious things. So I always recommend that you can do this process yourself to get the conversation started and then as you hire this consultant or outsourced CTO or someone who's higher level on the technical food chain, if we wanna say it that way, then you work with them to refine it. You get their input on what are the best approaches from a technology tools and perspective, from an estimation perspective on what are the possibilities of how can you break this up so that we can build it in pieces rather than the whole thing. So they can help you visualize all of the stuff, and then you can work with them and have those conversations and say, "You know what, that would be okay. Yes, that would be okay."
0:36:27 Nelly Yusupova: Because they can't recommend things, and sometimes if you're, let's say, very non-technical then the back end, the admin area is an absolute must for you so that you can make changes and modifications in your app versus if you're a little bit more technical and you're okay going directly into the database and making those changes, then you don't need to necessarily spend the money right now to build the entire admin area or you can do it in pieces. You can only build parts of the admin area and not the other parts. So most people don't realize that those things are possible, and so they think that they have to build everything, which is not the case.
0:37:10 Vinay Koshy: So I don't know if this is part of the course, but would vetting, or finding and vetting a potential CTO be part of the program? Okay? [chuckle]
0:37:19 Nelly Yusupova: That is... Absolutely is. So hiring is the next step. And in hiring, we talk about the best way to hire technical people in general. In this case, now we're readying a process to actually hire the team who's going to be building it. So if you hired a CTO or an outsourced CTO or somebody like that to help you with that first step, now you already have a plan. You have exact technical specifications. You have a click-through prototype, you understand what you're building and what your MVP will be, because we're not building those 20 features, we're building the minimal number of them that we can launch with. So you have everything up to now. So now you're ready to hire and here you're hiring both the team, but you also will learn how to... What are the characteristics that you need to look for in an outsourced person versus a developer? So those are all of the things that are important to understand. And then step number seven is design. So design and hiring can be done parallel, so as you have all of your product done, then you need to then design it, because your prototype is not necessarily designed, it's not the beautiful version, like the super-refined version of what the app actually is gonna look like.
0:38:41 Nelly Yusupova: And I always tell people, there's so much competition in the App Store or anywhere else now, there's an expectation that something has to be super easy to use and also look good. So don't gloss over the design, so you really need to understand what are the good design elements. How to work with designers is also really important. Designers also speak a different language, so you have to... That's what we go through in the design phase is like, how do you identify good designers, how do you communicate with them? How do you make sure that they're successful? What can you give to them to make sure that they're successful and they render things that you actually want? So design is also hiring designers but then also focusing on design. And hiring is hiring the right team for your project. And here we also talk about how do you structure that team, do you need to have one team do everything or do you need to hire experts for different parts of your application? You can... Startups are a building block, and I think too many of us think that it's all or nothing, but my process is a whole different way of thinking about it.
0:39:57 Nelly Yusupova: It's all building blocks and anything is possible, which is why so many people, once they learn it, they feel so empowered, they feel like they have control in their hands, because you really... There's no rules. You can really decide what is right for you and how you can structure both the team and the product, and the way you go about it is all flexible.
0:40:21 Nelly Yusupova: So if you are ready, we can move to coding, which is step number eight. So we talked about all these seven steps that will get us to finally coding, and most people skip all of this and they go straight into coding, and that's when you run into a lot of problems.
0:40:41 Vinay Koshy: Before we jump into the actual coding, because you raise a number of points that I think a lot of people would struggle with, one is of course the actual technical aspects of it, both on the front and the back end, but then there's the UX and the design elements as well, that needs to be taken into consideration. I'm assuming that as you build out your prototype, you would get enough feedback to build out a reasonable UX experience on the first go, and that you wouldn't have to worry about it too much as a result. But with the design elements, assuming you don't have any design experience, are there key things that we should look out for or must cover on the first go, as opposed to trying to finesse every single detail and make sure it's absolutely perfect?
0:41:35 Nelly Yusupova: Yeah. So perfection is the enemy of progress. So the key here is not perfection, it's simplicity and effectiveness. And as long as it's clear and intuitive, I think you're good to go. You don't need to have some splashy screens. In fact, look at Apple, their products are the simplest with no design at all, and that they stand and speak for themselves. So it's not about getting something splashy. To me, great design is one that does not stand in the way. And then I think ultimately what I teach is not anything specific when it comes to hiring or working with people. What I want you to understand or to walk away with as a person is knowing enough information so that you can understand how to hire those people. So you can understand how to ask the right questions to get the information that you need, because ultimately... No, you are absolutely right. You're not gonna be a developer, you're not gonna be a designer, you're not gonna be a CFO, you're not gonna be so many other things. You're not gonna be a marketer. Your job as the CEO of your company is to get the right team in place who are oftentimes people smarter than you, but be able to manage them and get them to be the best versions of themselves.
0:43:08 Nelly Yusupova: And so that you can communicate what it is that you want to happen, and then when they talk back to you, you can actually have a conversation, that you're not completely lost, because they're using their own language to talk to you. And so whether it's marketing or tech or sales or any part of your business, you need to know enough about the language of that skill set so that you can ask the right questions, so that you can understand what's a good hire versus a bad hire. You need to understand what their job entails so that you can expect certain things from them. And so that's ultimately... When I teach people, I teach them how to think that way, so that then... Whether it's design or development, in this case, they can then have... Be confident enough... Because ultimately it's about confidence. Be confident enough to say, "I'm in charge of this. I'm the boss. And you work for me. And ultimately, you have to be able to answer the questions that I have and give me the right approach." And when they give you their point of view, you can either agree with it or disagree with it. And that's how you start to have the conversation.
0:44:36 Nelly Yusupova: I think that's the biggest thing that's missing from people, is that... When people ask me questions, "But what if they don't listen?" And I'm like, "Why wouldn't they listen? They work for you." It's all in the head. It's all in the mindset. You have to be confident enough. Once you learn and understand all the stuff... Good decision-making, good... Self-confidence comes from learning something. And then once you have the self-confidence, then you're okay. You go to a doctor and they tell you something, you don't say, "But doctor... " You ask the questions, you have the confidence enough to be able to ask them the questions. It's the same exact thing with tech people or design people, but because you are not confident about your knowledge, you somehow feel like it's not okay to question them. It's not okay to ask the questions. So I hope that answers your question. I just feel this is the biggest thing that people struggle with, and it's all mindset and confidence.
0:45:38 Vinay Koshy: I certainly agree with you on that aspect of the confidence, but as you were saying there, it raised another question in my mind. And perhaps it's my days in an agency where I was doing up a lot of these tech documents for clients that brings this about, but would you... And again, I'm going back to this example of the entrepreneur who wants to build up this app. Would you say that it would be a good idea to have some of your early, what shall I say, potential customers, form a bit of an advisory panel to validate each step of the development of the project, which would in turn color a lot of what we were just talking about?
0:46:23 Nelly Yusupova: Absolutely. So the customers that you start to talk with will ultimately... It would be a good sign if they want to be a part of this customer panel because if you ask them, "Would it be okay for me to contact you on a regular basis?" If they say no, then that gives you a clue that their pain point is not enough, not big enough. Because the people that really have that pain point, they'll be like, "Yeah, I would wanna use your product even if it has bugs, even if it's not ready, it's not fully baked," because to them you are the godsend that actually will solve the problem. There's no other tool that they can use to easily do that. And so, absolutely, the people who you find who wanna stay engaged, who can become your early beta customers, you wanna be able to get them on your team and help you all along the way.
0:47:24 Vinay Koshy: Thanks for that because that I think is an invaluable piece of advice. So assuming we've gotten this far, we're project managing the actual build out and coding of the MVP. What else do we need to take into consideration?
0:47:37 Nelly Yusupova: Okay, so now we're at the coding part. Number one, you must use Agile Project Management, so there's an Agile development processes. So there are some people who are still using what we call the waterfall methodology. The difference is in the waterfall methodology, you agree to what you're gonna build, and it could be a six month to a year project, and once you agree to what the requirements are, you literally cannot change them. According to the traditional rules, you cannot change them, even if the business requirements change, even if the environment changes and actually says, "Well, the customers are saying, 'We need this now,'" you literally cannot make any changes to it. And it may work okay in big corporations that have very established products, but I think even there, I have to question whether or not it's the right approach. With startups, it will never work, because with startups, there's so much uncertainty, there's so many new things that you are learning on every day, that taking even two months to build something is too long without learning something new. So the premise behind Agile is that you are breaking this big project into smaller chunks, what we call sprints, and at most they can be two weeks, and within every...
0:49:01 Nelly Yusupova: So if you commit to that your sprints are gonna be two weeks, every two weeks, you're gonna get working code, which is amazing for entrepreneurs, and we'll talk about minimizing mistakes and catching mistakes earlier. This will allow you to do that because at the end of two weeks, you can see whether your team is performing or not, if they are making buggy code or if they're not understanding what you're trying to do. It uncovers a lot of issues because every two weeks you can analyze what's happening and track progress, versus a lot of entrepreneurs... This woman that I was talking to, that was actually the impetus for me creating TechSpeak. She was a friend of mine, she was in the community, and she lost $60,000 working with a trusted consultant, which was gonna be her co-founder. They were having conversations of her coming on as a technical co-founder. She paid her over a year, and in the year's time she saw some bits and glimmers of the product, but never the complete thing, and she kept paying on a regular basis, and she paid out $60,000 and had nothing to show for it after a year.
0:50:10 Nelly Yusupova: There was no way for her to track what was going on. If you think about it, if she had only used Agile Project Management, she would have seen the fraud that that person is. In fact, she wasn't even a developer. She hired a development team, didn't know how to manage them, blew through $60,000 and this whole story. But Agile Project Management will save you from all kinds of horror stories. Especially if you're outsourcing or offshoring, this is a way for you to even maybe test multiple teams. Your MVP, you can give it to three different teams to see which one does better, and it's a way to really understand how teams are performing, and uncover any kind of bugs or issues that are coming up, sooner rather than later.
0:51:00 Vinay Koshy: That certainly makes a lot of sense. Is there a prescribed process like Scrum or something else that you would advocate in terms of using Agile?
0:51:10 Nelly Yusupova: Yeah, there's a lot of different versions of Agile. I in the program go through Scrum and Kanban, and I personally feel like... I teach both of them. Personally for startups who use this process, I prescribe Kanban, or actually a combination, what I call Scrumban. So we use some parts of Scrum, some parts of Kanban because they both have their pros and cons, and so the process that I teach is really called Scrumban, and we have, even daily or multiple times a day, releases and not two-week releases. Because this, the sooner you can launch, the faster you can uncover issues. That process is great for teams that are Agile, that are really dialed in. So if your team is not dialed in, you can't deliver that quickly. So it's something that you can maybe get to later, but I outline a very specific way that I do it so it's easier for you to keep track of things. But ultimately, you can start with, if you're not doing any Agile and you can do sprints, that's already like years, light years ahead of most people, but there are ways to optimize and even get to multiple times a day. I don't know if you are familiar with a company called Etsy?
0:52:29 Vinay Koshy: Yeah.
0:52:30 Nelly Yusupova: Do you know Etsy?
0:52:31 Vinay Koshy: Certainly.
0:52:31 Nelly Yusupova: They do 150 deploys a day.
0:52:34 Vinay Koshy: Wow. [chuckle]
0:52:35 Nelly Yusupova: As a 400-person development team, that's what they'd get to. That's how efficient they are, and that's what's possible. You don't need to get there right away, but that's what's possible. And then imagine if you can do it that quickly, how efficient, how much learning you can do in a span of just a few hours.
0:52:54 Vinay Koshy: Yeah. So just for the listeners, really what you're saying is release early, learn quickly and then refine, to put it a simple way.
0:53:03 Nelly Yusupova: Exactly. Exactly.
0:53:08 Vinay Koshy: Okay, excellent. Is there anything particular that we need to look at with this whole process, both from a technical point of view or the next steps forward in terms of scaling?
0:53:22 Nelly Yusupova: Yeah, so step number nine is where we talk about hosting security and scaling. I am very bullish on upscaling too early. It makes absolutely no sense to me when you want to scale your product to thousands of users when you have zero users, and so the key in my mind, for a lean startup is to monitor and anticipate growth and be prepared for when growth happens. So you should have a plan, and I teach you how to make a plan, but not scale right away. And so you're gonna save a lot of time and money in that way, but if you are seeing that you're on the trajectory as your customer base grows, you already have a plan of like, "This is the next thing we're gonna do, this is the next thing we're gonna... " And so it's a very strategic approach to scaling. That way you're not caught off-guard and are able to support your customers as you're growing, rather than doing it on day one. So it's all about minimizing mistakes, not spending too much time doing it right off the bat.
0:54:26 Nelly Yusupova: And the last step is analytics, most people launch and they are like, "Okay, we're done." But that's really when the real work begins, because we talked about taking those 20 features, condensing them into five, so now we have five features, and our goal is to really understand what we... I talk about not just implementing Google Analytics, which is what everybody does, but you need to implement behavior analytics into your app and understand specifically what features and functionalities are being used and how they're being used. And so you are going to generate all kinds of data, and then that will take your initial hypotheses and the initial indications in step one, and allow you to amplify that learning, and then you can then refine.
0:55:16 Nelly Yusupova: So instead of guessing what features and functionalities to improve, you can see it in the data and that will inform on your next steps, like how do you... What are the next features that you need to be improving and working on rather than building something new or unrelated or something else, so it's much more focused on improving the product, 'cause early on, you need to make sure that your product is growing and your customers are using it, and the number one metric it should be focused on is retention, is how many people are coming back to your app as often as you can, so that the more they come back, the more they resonate with it, the more chances of them to pay you on a monthly basis, if it's a SaaS product. So that should be your goal.
0:56:05 Vinay Koshy: So would you, or do you actually break it down even more? So for example, again going back to this example of the founder wanting to build this app for play dates, would it look something like, the first point of value for a potential user would be organizing their first play date, and that is essentially the customer's aha moment or wow moment? And then further down the track, it would be something like them making repeat play dates with similar or same sorts of kids, and then even forming a regular playgroup or something of that nature that evolves as they grow older? Would that be the sort of thinking that you would be into?
0:56:49 Nelly Yusupova: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, so those are called KPIs, key performance indicators, and for every business it's gonna be different. So you would set up those things that are important to your app, and then you would track each specific action, that's the behavior that we talked about. So though you will define those behaviors and based on those behaviors, you will be able to collect data on the usage, on frequency, on all kinds of different dimensions when it comes to behavior. And then if you want to, then you wanna get to a point where you're not just looking at it, but then interjecting certain things, certain actions into the behavior, so that you can actually increase that type of behavior and then say, "Okay, if the person does X behavior three times in a row, then they become a much more consistent user." If you get that kind of insight, for example, then your goal, the onboarding goal would be to get them to perform that action three times as quickly as possible, because then you can then... You already can predict that they will become a regular user if they can achieve that aha moment in as quickly as possible.
0:58:10 Vinay Koshy: Terrific.
0:58:11 Nelly Yusupova: It's very analytical and it's very data-driven to actually making sure that you can understand the key metrics that make your app, your app, and making sure that those important functions happen on a regular basis.
0:58:27 Vinay Koshy: This is terrific. I love the methodical approach that you take to all of this. In listening to what you're saying, it sounds incredibly logical, but correct me if I'm wrong, in between the lines, I also suspect that you're helping people build their influence with their audience, and that goes beyond just the specs and the data side of things, would that be correct?
0:58:54 Nelly Yusupova: Absolutely. I think the number one thing that happens when you start with validation is you are actually understanding and getting the sales talk, the sales speak. You're basically getting to what Peter Drucker, the biggest marketer in the industry talks about, understanding the need, the pain points, the problems so well, that you don't actually need to sell your product, they would sell themselves. Because that's exactly what you're doing in Stage One. By talking to customers, you're uncovering the need, you are... In the interview process, they will tell you exactly the language that you should be using to communicate with people just like them. So you already have all the marketing copy that you need to be able to communicate with those people, and so... Absolutely, that's the first step to creating a good product, and from a marketing standpoint, understanding the customer. We talk about building a persona, which are all pre-precursors to marketing. So once you create your persona, once you understand the needs, once you understand how to communicate with them, you can create your landing page, you can create the language and the lingo that they need to use to communicate with people just like them, so that when they read it, they feel like you're speaking to them and they need this product.
1:00:24 Nelly Yusupova: And then the next step, which is what I so far don't teach, but at some point hope to teach, is how do you actually then take this information and drive people to your pages? So I don't teach how to do Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and paid marketing and all that, but there's a lot of courses out there on that.
1:00:45 Vinay Koshy: Terrific, and now I'm also wondering, as people go through this 10-step process in your program, what do you find makes some of your students more successful than others?
1:00:58 Nelly Yusupova: The ones that don't skip any of the steps [chuckle] become more successful. Because over the years, I've refined all of these steps and each step feeds the next, and if you want to create the biggest transparency, the biggest efficiency, then you'll be very smart not to skip the steps. Some people will say, "Oh, I already know my customers, I already know what their needs are." Like I said, in the beginning, every single feature, once the product is built, goes through that validation step. Whether I think I know it or I don't, whether I'm building the product for myself or not, I never skip that step because there's always insights that I learn that I haven't thought of before. And so some people get cocky and they're like, "Well, I'm gonna skip the step, I don't have time, or I'm gonna skip the prototyping, and I'm not gonna talk to customers." So then... So yes, they can, of course, get the product out the door, but the question is not, "Am I getting the product out the door?" But, "Am I doing it in the most efficient way?" And the answer would be no, because you probably have built a little too much or you didn't build it exactly like it should be, and so you're ending up coding more things than you need to, or building more things than you need to, and that's the less efficient way of doing it.
1:02:20 Vinay Koshy: Nelly, lots of gold in this episode, I'm sure the listeners would agree, but is there any aspect of building out a product or product development stages that you feel we haven't quite covered or covered so well, but you feel that we should highlight?
1:02:38 Nelly Yusupova: I think what I wanna highlight is the steps can be learned. You can go and take the steps and you can do all this learning, but a lot of it comes down to mindset. Number one, believing that you as a non-technical person can run a tech product, that's number one, that's an overwhelming thing to think about for most non-technical entrepreneurs. The answer is absolutely yes. Do it smart, but don't think that you can't do it. And number two, getting that self-confidence is going to be so important for any of this to work, and getting comfortable with the "Fail early and often and cheap" concept is so uncomfortable for people. I teach that right at the beginning, almost the first lesson. It's getting them used to the idea of failing and seeing failure as a learning opportunity and not being emotionally connected to it, which is one of the biggest reasons why people don't even get into entrepreneurship is because they have that weird relationship with failure. So leaving the baggage [chuckle] almost away and just accepting that if you follow the steps, you can do it. And that's why I created TechSpeak so that you can get from point A to point B a lot quicker.
1:04:06 Nelly Yusupova: You don't have to make all those mistakes, you don't need to spend endless hours trying to Google information and seeing what this person did and this person did... I wanted to package it in a way that is easy to understand, it's streamlined, and I teach all of the steps without holding anything back, because what's the point of that? I want to teach people this information, and so the first thing, I'll teach all the steps, but you need to get mindset right, you need to leave the baggage outside.
1:04:40 Vinay Koshy: Certainly. So overcoming, or I think it's more of a mind shift, I would see it as more of a mind shift change, where you come to accept failure and rejection as stepping stones to where you want to get to.
1:04:53 Nelly Yusupova: Exactly.
1:04:55 Vinay Koshy: Nelly, this has been terrific. Where can listeners head to or in order to find out more or to connect with you?
1:05:02 Nelly Yusupova: Sure, it's techspeakforentrepreneurs.com with all of the information. People can book a call with me there if they want to, they can contact me from there, and I'm digitalwoman on all the social channels, and digitalwoman.com is my personal persona website.
1:05:18 Vinay Koshy: Excellent. Nelly, thank you so much.
1:05:21 Nelly Yusupova: You're welcome. It was a pleasure.
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Links and resources mentioned
- Check out TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs
- Discover which fatal tech mistakes are blowing your budget here
- Discover powerful entrepreneurial characteristics needed to drive growth
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