A guide to product development for the risk averse, Part I

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In the tech industry, we’re all familiar with that daunting adage: ninety-nine percent of startups don’t make it to launch. One of our specialities here at Goji Labs is taking on what we call rescue projects—projects that didn’t work out with another developer, and therefore, never made it to launch. This article is the first in a four-part series in which we identify those common points of failure among rescue projects and discuss how they can be avoided.

Risk reduction

Startups can take risk-reducing steps right from the beginning of the development process, starting with choosing the right people to build their product. Depending on what they choose, startups who don’t asses their needs correctly run the risk of either not keeping up with their own technical needs or over-spending on a technical co-founder they’re not ready for yet. How do they know what’s right for them? The answer depends on their product’s core value and who else is competing in their target market.

Relying on inovation

Sometimes, a company’s success depends on constant innovation and its ability to incorporate new research and discoveries into its product. Google Search, for instance, relies on an algorithm which Google is constantly updating and improving based on new data. In other words, Google Search’s future success relies on an algorithm that doesn’t even exist yet. When a product’s value lies in the technology itself, startups need a technical co-founder who will be around to maintain, update, and continue pushing their product into the future.

Most companies, however, have less complex technical needs.

What made Uber so disruptive to the transportation industry, for instance, had less to do with its core technology than the idea itself. The Uber app uses existing technologies such as mobile location services and queues for handling pickup requests and assigning drivers to riders. Although Uber’s scale complicates its needs, the core value of its business remains the idea itself. In cases like this, startups may only need a technical team to get them to launch.

Both options come with benefits and sacrifices.

A technical co-founder may cost more, but they constantly work to improve their product and keep it competitive in the marketplace. Startups who don’t need this level of attentiveness after their product is built can save money by contracting their software developers and putting their resources toward sales, marketing, or other needs. When startups can identify what’s right for them, they’re already on their way to a lower-risk development process.