Developing a new product? Here’s how to make it a success

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Developing new products is difficult. This is tough not only for startup teams but also for well-established businesses. To address a high rate of failure, founders began adopting frameworks that could increase their chances of building the products people needed. One of such frameworks is hypothesis-driven development. It is a process of making assumptions, forming hypotheses, validating them, learning and iterating.

The first step in adopting vision-driven development is to build product and business assumptions. Assumptions are ideas or beliefs that entrepreneurs believe to be true about their future startups. There are several known ways to come up with assumptions, one of which is perception mapping. This puts users at the very center and fosters user empathy during the process. Let’s learn more about it.

RELATED: How to Increase User Empathy and Build a Better Product

Inference maps as your first step in hypothesis-driven development

Estimate Map is a time-tested framework originally designed by IDEO – the forerunner of the customer-centric approach. It is sometimes called The Three Lens of Innovation, as it is used as a business tool to drive innovation in established companies. This framework allows business leaders and entrepreneurs to view and build perceptions around any new product creation from these three aspects – desirability, feasibility and feasibility. There are three parts to making assumptions:

  1. Ongoing perception mapping workshop with working team. It involves key knowledge holders and decision makers writing down their thoughts on what makes a product desirable, viable and viable – ideally all at the same time. This can be done inside the online collaboration tool as Sticky Notes (here is a nice template,
  2. Prioritize validation maps The assumptions of which should be based on the first available information of importance (important/not significant) and how confident we are about this assumption (known/unknown).
  3. translating assumptions into conjectures That the team will test and validate. An assumption is something that the team believes to be true, it is an opinion. Whereas the hypothesis included an expected measurable result which can be easily tested with the potential target audience. A good format for hypothesis maybe “we believe that with [activity] For [these people], [this result/this effect] What will happen.”

Now let’s go back to the desirability, feasibility and feasibility aspects of the assumptions map and discuss in more detail how to create relevant business and product assumptions for a new venture.

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desirability assumptions

Entrepreneurs must have ideas on how to build user-centered experiences. Experiences that will meet the most critical needs of customers, making it difficult to replace solutions. This is why it is so important to make assumptions that address the following desirability questions:

  • Is the product solving the problem the customer is facing? Always see how big a problem is in customers’ lives and how much time, money and headache it saves. What is at stake if the problem is not resolved?
  • How often does the problem occur? Creating a product for a one-time problem is risky. It is better to evaluate the product’s potential viscosity and retention, listing what the product can achieve there.
  • Do customers really need to solve this problem? Should this solution be “vitamins” or “pain relievers”, “good-to-have” or “must have?” will be considered as? Some products address problems that are more obvious than others, which naturally increases their desirability.

feasibility assumptions

There will always be some constraints in manufacturing products, from technology, time and budget to resources and partnerships. Viability assumptions free up potential detractors. Plus, they help business leaders understand what needs to be done to release a product:

  • technology. What kind of technology and professionals are needed? Should the business employ a full-stack engineering team, or is it possible to start a Minimum Viable Product built without code, Physical resources, licenses or cloud services — are they critical to product success?
  • budget and time. Established companies may have the budget to build new products, while startups may have to seek funding. How much money and time will it take to bring the product to market?
  • Partnerships and Resources. What pieces do businesses need to align for a product to be successful? They are partnerships, GTM resources and support from compliance or legal parties to leverage.

RELATED: 5 Important Components of a Great Customer Journey Map

feasibility assumptions

What would be the main assumptions for a profitable business model? A scalable business model with improper monetization will quickly reach a dead-end for the new product. This is why it makes sense to focus on scalability and unit economics during the Assumptions Mapping Workshop.

  • market opportunity. How big is the market for the planned product? What is the value of the problem the business is planning to solve and how much will potential customers be willing to pay? The answers to the above will give an assumption about the growth potential for the solution.
  • Revenue streams and channels. What are all the marketing channels to reach the customers and what will be the monetization model? Once the initial revenue is in place, what is the plan to increase profitability?
  • Cost structure and unit economics. Is the pricing attractive compared to direct and indirect competitors? Is the cost vs profit ratio indicating a profitable business? What can be an acceptable customer acquisition cost? How are you charging your customers? Will the product be free trial or freemium?

Projection mapping is a simple and easy-to-use framework for establishing initial assumptions. It also includes a comprehensive set of questions for entrepreneurs to address, which allows on the one hand to have a strategic approach about product development and, on the other hand, requires a lot of knowledge. So while working on an estimation map, the executive team must first acquire a strong understanding of the target audience, their needs and desires as well as users’ willingness to pay and business readiness to build the required features.