Andrew Warner is the master of learning from entrepreneurs. As the founder of Mixergy, he has interviewed over 1000 entrepreneurs, sharing what they did to become successful. Prior to Mixergy, he was an accomplished entrepreneur with an internet business selling greeting cards that generated over $30M/year in revenue. However, his path was not always paved with successes – he learned from his costly failures and mistakes – and eventually created Mixergy to discover how successful products and companies are created.
Watch Andrew’s interviews with successful entrepreneurs at Mixergy.com
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include:
- Product innovators and entrepreneurs struggle with the “counter-mind” that tells us our plans will not work
- An example of the “counter-mind” is wanting to go for a run but your counter-mind telling you that you don’t have time, or knowing that you need to contact customers but your counter-mind telling you that they won’t be interested
- After spending $300,000 developing an invitation system for events, Andrew realized it was a failure. He had not asked for feedback on the product concept before developing it
- Talk with potential customers about the product concept to learn about their real problems and how your product can provide value
- Use an iterative approach to develop and refine product concepts, learning from customers as you go
- Andrew shared his minimal viable product (MVP) approach he used for creating a training product. Highlights include:
- Don’t create a product before knowing that it offers sufficient value to become a winner.
- The best way to validate a product is to ask customers to pay for it before it actually exists and then co-create it with them.
- Andrew emailed past customers asking about a specific problem he suspected they had. The response was positive.
- He then created a web page with a “yes” button that asked if people had the problem.
- If they clicked “yes” that web page asked what more they wanted to learn.
- If they responded by typing topics and questions, then the web page told them a training product would be created if enough people wanted it but they had to pay for it now by credit card. The webpage also said their money would be completely refunded if an insufficient number of people responded.
- With this process, Andrew quickly validated a need, engaged customers in co-creating a product, and established paying customers to prove sufficient demand existed.
I didn’t have time with Andrew to discuss an innovation quote, but he emailed me a favorite after the interview. He picked this one because whenever he wants to launch something new, a voice in his head says, “but it’s not ready.” This is a great quote for those times…
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman
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