It might be something, that on the surface seems to be an excellent idea, but deeper down, has no practical usage.
That begs the question:
What makes a product truly ‘unique’?
Many times a founder, especially somebody who’s building a company, tends to be quite internally focused. At times, he/she can be so engrossed on the idea, that talking to and understanding the target audience takes a back seat.
Sure, the founder might think he/she knows the target customer. But more often than not, it can’t be farther from the truth.
A product is only unique when it solves a burning problem for your users and the users consider the product unique. Calling a product unique only based on its application, when its practical use is debatable, is what many founders tend to do.
For example, let’s say an entrepreneur comes up with a platform that is a combination of WhatsApp and email. He/she might think it’s a unique idea that reduces the hassle of changing apps for sending text messages and emails.
However, the truth might be that users actually prefer having separate apps for the two functions.
Moral of the story: It’s not unique unless the user thinks so! What’s unique for the founder may not be unique for the user. To be unique, the product needs to solve a problem for the user in a significantly better way. So – know your user!
How to know what people want?
Steve Jobs knew what people wanted.
He didn’t talk to them. He imagined a future that his users could not. He bet his company on it and got it right. In fact, most of the time the people themselves didn’t know that they wanted something, but Steve Jobs did.
But there are only a handful who are like Steve Jobs. For the rest of us, there are other disciplined ways of understanding the customer.
Most people fall short of finding a real need for the user, and catering to it. They tend to come up with needs to address that are not really a need in the users’ minds. They think if they are excited about a particular need, the users will be too.
It’s extremely important to build something that people actually want.
Now, when someone presents their idea to the world, the amount of effort you are putting into presenting it is huge.
One of the ways is building demos and testing them, wherein you quickly come up with a bare-bones demo and test it on a small group of users to check if they buy in on the idea.
Another method is to build a basic product without the bells and whistles and see if users are lapping it up or not. That is a great way of reducing the wastage of effort in going to the user. So, you don’t have to have to have a world-class fully featured product to test it with the users.
The moment you stack up the features, the product gets bloated. If you add three features, you have to add the effort for those three features, and also the effort to maintain those features across all devices. It gets complicated really fast.
Ideally, it’s best to pinpoint one particular need cater to it, and measure adoption.The best way would be to follow the six degrees of adoption: Degree 1 involves making a concept presentation and asking the user for feedback. The second degree involves making a demo and taking the users’ feedback on that. The third degree involves asking your users to pay a nominal price, the fourth degree involves asking them to pay a higher price. The fifth degree involves forcing users to try your product and the sixth is to simply leave it in the correct environment and users adopt the product with no effort from your end. To sum it up, initially a minimum degree of ‘guesstimation’ is required, where you figure out people might need this, and then go from there. It is also important that the founder is passionate about the product. It does involve a bit of risk, but you manage it by minimizing the amount of resources you put in before you have started the validation process.