As previously mentioned here, here, and here, the foundation for Gain Compliance’s product design and development efforts is frequent, close interaction with our pilot customers. We spend countless hours with pilot companies learning about their processes and associated pain points, and then devising solutions.
Quite literally, our pilot customers tell us what to build.
I can’t say enough positive things about how generous they’ve been with their time and expertise, and how pivotal their role has been in our company’s progress. At the same time, the question arises: are our pilot companies critical enough when evaluating our product?
Having contributed time and expertise to the effort, they are invested in the outcome. So, while it’s encouraging to get feedback from pilot companies that we’re on the right track and that our product is valuable, the reality is any such conclusion must be tested.
To validate the elusive goal of “product-market fit,” it’s necessary to sell the product to customers who are new, don’t know us, haven’t followed our journey, and certainly haven’t provided guidance and suggestions on our path.
If we gain traction selling to “strangers,” the next step is to build a repeatable sales process. But, similar to how a disciplined approach to product development can avoid the costly pitfalls in product design and early development, caution and diligence are the watchwords as many, many pieces must fall into place.
Progress in startups always feels frustratingly incremental. It’s tempting to declare victory at any one stage, and then lose focus and discipline in the next task.
Not surprisingly, there is quite a bit of evidence that premature scaling – at any stage – is not only a problem for startups, but actually constitutes a leading cause of failure. (I would actually take this conclusion with a grain of salt, though: after all, if a company was never on the right track, any attempt to grow is doomed to failure.)
And so, the journey continues: one foot in front of the other….