Going From Zero To Launching A Startup In Three Steps

Kevin Chandra is the co-founder of Typedream, a no-code website builder. Connect with him about no-code and startups on LinkedIn.

A lot of early-stage startup founders think that launching a product is the conclusion of months or years of hard work. They expect an Apple-like spotlight every year when it launches the new iPhone. However, launching a perfect product is a common misconception that needs to be corrected.

Early-stage startup founders need to understand that the first version of the product they are launching is a minimum viable product. A minimum viable product is the simplest version of your product that uses the fewest resources and has the least number of features; therefore, early-stage founders should be comfortable with launching as fast as possible instead of waiting to perfect their product.

1. Build an audience.

Spoiler alert: Your first product will likely be bad, and sometimes it won’t even be a product. Early-stage founders can consider making a waitlist page before even beginning to develop their product. The point of a waitlist page is to gauge the demand for your product and collect user information that you can then use to notify potential buyers once your product launches. I’ve seen several great examples of early-stage startups that employed this strategy and had many people join their waitlists before ever launching.

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To build an effective waitlist page, there are several things early-stage entrepreneurs should consider, such as communicating your idea clearly through images or videos and through gamifying the waitlist. In order to communicate your idea clearly, consider creating interactive mockups and make them the main content on your waitlist page. Second, make an exclusive waitlist that only your power users are able to get into; moreover, users should be able to move up the waitlist if they invite a friend. All of the above will let you build an audience with $0 before you even have a product.

2. Build a ‘lemonade stand’ MVP.

All the great products that we know and love today such as Tiktok, Gmail, Airbnb, Netflix and Amazon have at one point launched their first version that most people likely don’t even remember. Hardly anyone would be able to recall what these products looked like or what features they had the day they first launched. The lesson learned here is that nobody remembers the first lemonade stand you set up.

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The first version of your product should not take up too much of your time or resources. You should not be burning tens of thousands of dollars or more into developing the product. Your minimum viable product should be something you can build by yourself. Today, there are many tools that can be used for almost all the products that founders want to build. From my perspective, there is no reason you need custom software to build your product. On top of that, early-stage startup founders should focus on just one killer feature that their target users will immediately love.

3. Do things that don’t scale.

Paul Graham famously said startup founders should “do things that don’t scale,” and it couldn’t be more true. Many early-stage startup founders believe that building a product and putting it out there on the internet is enough to attract users to use their product, and if nobody comes, that means the market doesn’t exist. On the contrary, a product gets users only if the founders do everything they can to attract users. The process of founders doing things that don’t scale to push the company forward is usually called going from zero to one.

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The most important part of doing things that don’t scale is for founders to recruit their users individually. Recruiting does not stop after publishing your waitlist page. The work keeps on going, as founders need to spread the waitlist to relevant people and every relevant page, forum, and group on the internet. Moreover, they should interview as many people from the waitlist as they possibly can to understand what excites these early adopters. This helps founders shape the requirements for their product and delight their users once they get access to the product. Early-stage founders should keep repeating the process of talking to users manually and automating it as their companies scale.

Building a startup is not about getting featured in major media publications or getting an investment from big-name venture capital firms. It is about doing the painful little things every single day. No startup founder knows how to succeed. So, they need to fail fast, fail cheap and fail forward until they learn enough to guide themselves to product-market fit.

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