“From-the-Trenches” Wisdom and Tips from Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs

Rev1’s Entrepreneur Toolkit — A deep dive into product


Rev1’s Entrepreneur Toolkit is a handy, easy-to-use collection of practical tips and tools curated especially for entrepreneurs and founding teams. Think of the Toolkit as an extension of the Rev1 Startup Studio, our unique approach that combines strategic services and capital to help startups scale.

Five Toolkit categories to match the critical success factors for taking a startup from concept to scale. Our roadmap is flexible. It is easy to adapt our expertise to your team’s individual needs and growth plan.

Your Product includes resources for validating, building, and iterating on your product. To gain early feedback and beta customers, startups must be able to offer a solution that brings value to the customer and allows for maximum learning potential with the least amount of effort. That’s a tall order when startups are strapped for time, talent, and cash. That’s why understanding the “whys and hows” of creating a minimum viable product (MVP) can have such an impact on a startup’s success.

This roundup provides brief descriptions and ready links to topics on Product. Use this content to expand your own knowledge or to supply an easy-to-read series for new hires, technical employees who don’t have experience in marketing, or even interns who are joining your team for specific assignments. It’s a way to get up to speed quickly.


Product Library

What Do Customers Want? Tips for Effective Market Validation Interviews – When the goal is to create a product or service that customers will buy, it’s never too early to start conversations that help you better understand their pain points, their existing solutions, and how they perceive and talk about the problems they have. When you solve a problem for your customers, you are developing your product for long-term success.

A Tech Entrepreneur’s Guide to Early Product Development – This high-level guide to introduces entrepreneurs to a customer-driven approach and the vocabulary to improve a startup’s chances of creating products that customers buy and use.

3 Reasons to Validate the Market Before You Invest in a Prototype (and a checklist to help ) – Entrepreneurs need direct feedback from customers to build what the market really wants. But, charging forth and building a pre-concept prototype based on the wrong market assumptions will blow what early funding the startup has.

Investors Say Yes to User Interface Prototypes – It can be difficult for an investor to grasp a business idea in the abstract. When investors can see and interact with a prototype of the screens of the contemplated software, product on a tablet or a desktop, it can be easier for them to grasp the idea.

Tool: Creating a Prototype – Tools to Get You Started – A prototype is worth a thousand words. If you are trying to get a potential customers to understand your solution, they need to see it and interact with it, but don’t make the prototype better than it needs to be.

MVP Mindset – Part 1: Reduce Risk and Inefficiency – Think of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as a method is validate a hypothesis. To reach this point, a startup will have completed some degree of customer validation and based on that made assumptions and formulated a hypothesis. When it comes to MVP, the magic words are just enough–the least amount of effort and features viable for the product to be useful to a customer.

MVP Mindset – Part 2: Case Studies – Successful companies build products for their customers. Depending on the industry and the customer segments served, market forces will affect what can be accomplished with a Minimum Viable Product. Three case studies provide industry examples.

MVP Mindset – Part 3: Product Feature Tool – Identifying and differentiating product features and benefits is a cornerstone of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) process. Features are defined by functions; benefits are customers’ outcomes or reactions to those features. Use this tool to differentiate the two.

Joint Development (JDP) or Joint Ventures (JV): What’s Best for Your Business? – JDPs are based on agreements and are more easily managed. However, access to capital is often limited. JVs are contractual between two companies who undertake a specific task. They have potential access to significant capital and assets, but are more detailed and difficult to manage.

Analyzing Your Competitors: Your Company’s Life Depends on It – Every startup has competition that keeps customers from buying your product. Competitors may have better offerings or even solutions that are just good enough. Your solution may be nice, interesting,  elegant—BUT customers don’t think it’s worth the price. Analyze the competition the way a customer analyzes it.

Tool:  Analyzing Your Competitors, Part 1: Competitive Analysis – Performing an ongoing, full review of the competition is critical to any startup’s success. You will be performing competitive analysis for the life of your company. As long as a business has customers, there will also be competitors.

Tool:  Analyzing Your Competitors, Part 2: Feature Canvas – A Feature Canvas is a way of organizing all the features that you and your competition have. It is a way to easily identify the strengths, weaknesses, and path and potential of your product. A feature canvas visually shows people’s pain points are currently being solved with the solutions available today. A Feature Canvas gives a product development team just enough detail to plan a flexible, yet focuses, agile product development process.

When Is First-mover Advantage a Disadvantage? – Are there situations in which being a first mover may be a significant bar to future competitors? I think the answer is yes, but it probably doesn’t happen as often as entrepreneurs might wish. Read about five situations in which the first-mover might truly have an advantage significant enough to hinder later competitors.

How to Solve the Puzzle of New Product Pricing – Product price can be the most powerful lever of entity value growth or value destruction. Product pricing is much more complicated and nuanced in practice than in economic charts and graphs. Three common approaches are value-based pricing, cost-plus pricing, and competitive pricing. For high-growth, advanced technology startups, the focus is on value-based pricing.


Executive and Entrepreneur Experience in Product

How to Build a Product that Customers Want – Dr. Rachel Angel, founder of Peero (formerly Anexsis), shares tips on how to gain early customer feedback on a product before the product is built. Having some visual is great, but you don’t necessarily have to have a physical product. Take the feedback that customers give you, negative or positive, and adjust when you create the actual product.

Ask an Entrepreneur: Building Solutions that Real Customers Want to Buy – Lots of companies talk about involving end users in the product development process. EduSourced really walks the talk. EduSourced Founder David Comisford talks about the why it is so important to get customer feedback early and often.

Top Tips for Startups at Concept Stage – It’s no secret that concept stage companies face the toughest challenge. Take the right steps to develop a solution that the market really wants. Nothing else matters if a startup isn’t building something their customers want to buy.

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