Signs of a Successful Startup, Part 2: Good Product

Written by Josh Thatcher on September 15, 2011

You have to make something people want. Seems obvious, right?

Since Steve Jobs retired as CEO of Apple, hundreds of posts have been written discussing his legacy and how he ensured Apple always focused on the user. What the user wanted. What the user’s key needs were. What the user wanted to see and feel.

Based on the fact you’re reading this, you likely follow tech closely, so there’s no need for me to go into how the iPod/iPhone/iPad are revolutionizing the industry.

What’s interesting is how other companies have responded.

Google moved quickly to bring Android up to speed, launching just three years ago in 2008. As of August 1, they have Android running on nearly half of the smartphones in the world. You can argue about how much of Google’s work was innovation and how much of it was copycatting Apple, but it’s clear they recognized what users wanted – a smartphone that was actually smart. That made life easier.

RIM didn’t move as quickly. For the most part, they stuck to their guns and were much slower in moving their Blackberry platform forward. Even when they did move, they didn’t always listen to their users. As one high-ranking exec at RIM allegedly put it, “We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice…” He went on to point out that the user does not care about those things–all users want is a product that works and works well.

Is user feedback the only thing that helps shape a good product? Of course not. If Prolifiq dedicated 100% of our efforts to responding to user feedback, we’d become a consulting company – something we’re not aiming to be.

While an average tech company’s highest responsibility is ultimately to its shareholders, one of the best ways it can fulfill that responsibility is to craft a product people want to use. Be a vitamin, Vicodin®, or vaccine. Find a user base and delight them. Your users will thank you, your shareholders will praise you, and it’ll make your company’s financial situation (the next post in this series) much easier to manage.

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