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Startup Methodologies: How Long Should The Development Process Take?

Working in the startup area has taught me some useful insights about startup methodologies – which are the useful practices and which are the practices you should avoid when developing a new product, no matter an actual one or software. Today I’ll focus on the time it should take you to develop and validate your idea so that you can compete with the other players on the market in terms of timing and quality.

It was mentioned in a previous blog post that you shouldn’t spend six months developing a product – this is way too much and you may be paving the way to a heart-breaking failure. Rather, do a Proof of Concept first to check out whether your idea will be welcomed warmly by your target audience. It doesn’t have to be a polished version; a Proof of Concept actually consists of a mock-up of the bare basics and a simulated database which will give your testers the gist of the product. In this way you will be able to quickly validate your assumptions without spending too much time on development and getting all the details right.

The Proof of Concept approach

The Proof of Concept approach gives you another great advantage over longer development times – the ability to get the target audience’s genuine feedback on whether your idea rocks, needs some adjustments or is a downright failure. By cutting the development time for the PoC to three weeks (yes, that short!) and keeping things simple you are basically optimizing your time and resources to get maximum results for the shortest period possible.

How long should it take?

There are many startup methodologies dealing with the problems of how exactly you should proceed with validation, but I’d recommend going for a process not longer than three weeks. In the past it was months and there have been many startups failing due to that long development time and listening to no feedback. Just imagine the scenario where you have put a lot of time and efforts to build something to completion and then, when launch time comes – it turns out that the market you assumed would kill for your product doesn’t need it at all! This is why my rule of thumb is to develop quickly and simplistically, and most importantly – validate.

Validation is the step which will give you information about people’s genuine reactions. A small sample of your audience is enough; ten-fifteen people testing the Proof of Concept for a day should give you prompts for improvement, valuable feedback on the idea itself and generally insights which you and your team might not expect at all – be ready to be surprised.

To put it in a nutshell – the quicker you are to understand what your audience’s need is and how to adjust your solution, the better off you are in terms of proceeding!

I would love to hear your opinions, questions or subjects you wish for me to cover. Please post your feedback to me via the discussion boards below.

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