Don't spend years developing a product that doesn't have a market. "I wish someone had given us that advice earlier," says Cohen. "But maybe it's one of those things you have to learn yourself. You have to feel the pain before you appreciate it."
That's the excerpt from a recent Inc. magazine article on why Josh Levy and Ross Cohen, BeenVerified's co-founders, burned through $550,000 in funding without getting a single customer.Man, that's a hard lesson to learn. Can you imagine all the start-ups that have crashed and burned because they developed a product in silence first and tried to find a market for it later? Eric Ries is one of the most famous examples of this very issue. He summed it up best when he shared how he spent six months building a product that nobody wanted to use:
Customers don't care how much time something takes to build. They care only that it serves their needs.
Looking for a market before building a product
Ok, so you probably now get the idea that you shouldn't develop a product in silence for six months without any feedback. Now the question becomes: how do you get feedback on something you haven't built yet?
Remember the advice from Joel Gascoigne: get rid of the "Coming Soon" page all together and instead put up a landing page for your product launch. This is precisely the type of action that would have saved Eric Ries, as well as Cohen and Levy, hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as months and months of frustration.
What Joel is talking about here is simply throwing up a page that talks about what your product will do without actually implementing the functionality. The idea is that you want to test the concept of your product.
The people who end up clicking the sign-up button after poking around are the ones who are truly interested in the product. These same folks would be happy to discuss your product idea further to ensure that it would solve a real problem for them.
We don't want to say that putting up a dummy sign-up page is the only way to figure out if your idea has legs. There are a number of other ways you can test your idea or concept. We have an entire app we built to help people with this specific problem — upload a sketch, a mockup, or a screenshot and test their ideas before they implement them.
Whatever you do, all we ask is that you don't go out there and build a product in silence for six months. Continuous feedback is how you build great products.