Five Kinds of Startup: Product

Invention, Construction, Sales, Delivery, Support

10.31.16

So you've got it. You've nailed it. You've discovered the missing link that's going to change the game, the world, and millions of lives.

OK, first thing, someone has probably already done it. But don't let that stop you.

There are a million kinds of startups out there and a million more that haven't made their way off paper yet. Each one is unique, sure, but deep down, there really aren't any completely new ideas. The trick to startup is to get as close to a new idea as possible and then execute on that idea faster and better than anyone else.

There are different ways to accomplish that, and the differences are rooted in what kind of startup you've started.

In this series, I'll spend a lot of time talking about the startup lifecycle. What that means is not so much the journey from idea to reality (see Five Stages) or from garage to IPO (see Five Funding Sources) -- it's really more about the journey from the birth of whatever it is you're offering until that offering is a market success.

While all businesses are unique, there are really only a few kinds of startup. How these companies operate, grow, and succeed will depend on what kind they are. Thus, a lot of the decisions you will make and paths you will take will depend on what kind of startup you're running.

Product startups are what we think of when we think of traditional garage-based, mad-inventor startups. If you're building something that you sell and deliver, you're a product startup. The right ones usher in sweeping changes in the way we do things -- like the smartphone, the search engine, and the electric car.

Keep in mind, however, that the iPhone was not the first smartphone, Google was not the first search engine, and the Tesla was not the first electric car. Far from it. I'll say it again, there aren't many new ideas out there, but the three products I just mentioned were done faster and better, admittedly with a little right-place-at-the-right-time magic for good measure.

Entrepreneurs make some classic mistakes along the product startup lifecycle. There are a number of things you must do at each step that, while doing them won't necessarily guarantee success, they will at least reduce the risk of failure.

Let's talk about those steps.

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