Asked

What is your product's biggest unknown?

David Rusenko, founder of Weebly (sold for $365M to Square), talks about prioritization in his Startup School talk How to find Product-Market Fit.

Specifically he says: optimize for learning. Ask yourself:

"What is our biggest unknown that would rewrite our priority list?"

So as a thought exercise, I'm curious to hear what your biggest unknown is in your business right now? How you plan on finding out. And what it means when you do know.

Maker of WIP amongst other things.
Maker of WIP amongst other things.

I'll go first :)

WIP

Unknown: what differentiates new members who actively start using WIP and participate in the community, and members who join but never seem to get the hang of it.

How to find out: talk to early new members, track how active they are, and try to understand their differences

When I do know: I can help more members to be successful in adopting WIP (if it's something I can control), and/or target my marketing towards people who are the right fit for WIP join (if it's something I cannot control)

Startup Jobs

Biggest unknown: How hire managers decide which job boards to post to.

How to find out: Ask them. Reach out to a few through LinkedIn/etc and set up calls. Incentivise with gift certificate or something if needed.

When I do know: Decide on next steps to get more hire managers to post on Startup Jobs

BetaList

Unknown: What makes for the most interesting startups for our audience

How to find out: Look at metrics. See which startups get most engagement

When I do know: Focus our site/newsletter/etc on those startups instead. Increase signal to noise ratio. Increases engagement. Which makes BetaList more valuable to qualifying startups, and advertisers.

First time entrepreneur specializing in web application development.

I joined very recently and plan to stay very active and engaged :)

My first impression of WIP was through a post on HackerNews about a year (or two?) ago. A successful startup posted their story, and mentioned that they couldn't have done it without the supportive community on WIP.chat. I'm all about supportive communities, so I immediately bookmarked the site and kind of forgot about it for a while.

Fast forward to life in quarantine. I have a ton of extra free time on my hands, so now I'm finally going after the businesses that I've been wanting to create. I remembered WIP.chat from the HackerNews post and immediately signed up. Isolation has been tough, so having like-minded people talking about entrepreneurship has been really helpful.

Maker of WIP amongst other things.

Thanks for sharing and glad you remembered us :)

Curious to hear about your "biggest unknown" for Piggybank too by the way.

First time entrepreneur specializing in web application development.

Piggybank

Unknown: Are people willing to pay $5-$10 for a personal finance service when so many free alternatives exist? Selling data is a hard no for any business that I create, and I'm making a bet that people will pay for data privacy.

How to find out: Launch sooner rather than later :) if an MVP fails to gain traction among people who have a vested interest in trying out the things that I make (friends, family, coworkers), I'll have a pretty good idea of whether or not I'm onto something.

When I do know: If people are willing to pay, great! If not, I may launch as a free service and find a data-conscious way to connect people with vetted financial advisors (financial advisors would pay to be seen by users in their locale). This would effectively be a pivot to B2B I guess?

Maker of WIP amongst other things.

I wonder if you can find out this unknown, without even needing to launch the product.

Do you know what substitutes people are currently using to solve the same problem?

First time entrepreneur specializing in web application development.

Piggybank calculates daily, weekly, and monthly running budgets that can be recreated with Google Sheets and some no-code services like IFTTT (that’s what I was doing when I was originally solving the problem for myself), but the no-code services can get expensive and manually entering purchases and finance info into Google Sheets can be a pain...still, it’s a possible substitute

Maker of WIP amongst other things.

One issue I've seen related to monetizing cost-saving services is that they, by design, attract price-sensitive customers.

So that might be tricky and indeed something you should test. Hopefully you can figure it out in a manner of days or at most weeks. You wouldn't want to spend months on something people won't pay for.

Unless you can find an alternative revenue model similar to comparison sites, where you take a commission. Those models are somewhat proven, but require a large enough userbase.

First time entrepreneur specializing in web application development.

That makes a ton of sense! I'll probably sideline some features and prioritize an earlier launch. Thanks for the help :)