Technology is taking over. Every business, every home, every person, utilizes technology in some way, shape, or form. It seems almost a pleasant coincidence that while technology is currently expanding so rapidly, entrepreneurial efforts are also becoming increasingly more popular. This relationship between technology and self-pioneered business has brought with it an era of tech start-ups.
Tech start-ups are the golden goose of entrepreneurship in modern society. Spanning from web design to social media, to cloud-based storage companies, the tech field is littered with opportunity. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat, and Pinterest are each valued at over $10 billion. The industry has created over 25 billionaires on 2016 FORBES Billionaire list. It is safe to say, that a successful tech product will lead to a successful life.
Success is never guaranteed, however. It is widely understood that roughly 90% of all tech startups fail. Common reasons for these failures include improper web or app design, underdeveloped tech, and, or, lack of a recognized target market.
Tech start-ups are commonly seen in areas like Silicon Valley and New York City, however, the location of your tech startup is not what will make or break your tech product. While it may not hurt your company to join a Silicon Valley or NY startup accelerator, joining such programs is not necessary. Moreover, an insanely successful product can be created from just about anywhere if the proper steps are taken. Many tech developers have found that starting companies in unusual areas can be more financially advantageous because of the comparatively low cost of these areas. These founders are also finding little difference in business communication and partnership ability in these areas because of modern technology. Moreover, because of the rise of tech startups, there has also been a rise in complementary firms, such as mobile and web app development companies. Access to such company allows for easier operations and app development.
An example of a successful tech startup that took advantage of strategy – instead of location – is Qualtrics, a private research Software Company. The creators, one of which is Ryan Smith – current CEO – founded this company in the small city of Provo, Utah. The company is currently worth $220 million. It is clear that these founders implemented a solid strategy that made up for the location of the business.
So, the question becomes: what path needs to be taken to create a successful tech product from anywhere?
First: Develop a Concrete Idea
It may sound obvious, but many tech products fail because either the idea was not developed far enough, or there was no market for the product. Before any physical development, or commercialization can begin, an idea must first be solidified.
This process includes first coming up with a set of goals that your company, and product will embody. It is important that these goals remain constant throughout the entirety of your company’s lifespan. These goals may include relative price points, ethical restrictions, advertising guidelines, and more, but most importantly it is important to create a clear goal of the physical product (or app) itself before you go any further.
Throughout the whole process, work on the product itself may only account for 30% of your total time – with the remainder of the time allocated to sales, marketing, production, etc. It is essential that 30% of your time happen early on in this process. Early product attention is more important than sales and production focus; having a clear vision of what the product actually is makes accomplishing the rest more achievable.
Even the most fully developed products need a market to be successful, however. It is essential that during this initial idea phase, your company takes into consideration who this product is made for, and what problem your product is solving.
Second: Begin to Design
Once a target market has been selected, and a concrete idea has been formed, it is time to begin actually designing your product. It usually includes physical, web, and mobile app design. This is the stage that many tech developers think to start in. This stage is made vastly easier however if the idea phase is completed to its fullest potential.
Unless the founder has a remarkable background in tech development, it will almost always be beneficial for them to hire outside help to assist with this part of their product. It is important to higher skilled employees. Despite the importance of bootstrapping during initial business development, hiring engineers is not the area you want to be cheap in. These employees’ will bring your idea to life. It is essential that they understand the goals that have been originally set for your company.
It is also important not to decide on and go to market with the first design that is made. In the tech world, failure is a good thing. With each failure, comes new insight on how to create a better product in the future. The likelihood of the first design made being the best design is very low.
Third: Create a Prototype
The process of creating a prototype follows very closely with the process of developing the product. This phase entails bringing your original idea to life.
While the engineers you hired were trained to design tech products, they were most likely not designed to actually build them. For this reason, it is common for founders to send their products designs to prototype shops. It is also common for founders to get more than one prototype made, to ensure the best one possible is used.
It does not matter how extensive the effort put into the ideation, development and prototyping phase is, testing your product is essential. There are almost always bugs or setbacks in your tech that your team may not be aware of initially.
It is common to first test prototypes internally, among team members. However, it is also essential to launch a beta version of your tech product to trusted members of your targeted community. This last part is essential. Sharing a beta with only people outside of your target market will not result in responses that are relevant.
Once you have successfully developed, designed, and tested your product, you are ready to enter into commercialization.
This phase will include hiring a sales team and focusing much of your company’s efforts into advertising and branding. You will need to research your target market and find the best possible way to market your tech product to them. This step is not made to be quick. In fact, little under 70% of your time should be spent ensuring that the launch and market of your product are a success.
Ideas are everywhere. Great ideas can lead to great companies. However, great ideas do not ALWAYS lead to great companies.
Competition, especially in the tech industry, results in many failures. It is those that learn from these failures, take advantage of available resources, and take the proper steps that will fall into the top 10% of tech startups and be successful.