The Product Death Cycle & Its Affect On A Startup

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Life is tough for startups. Every day can be an existential crisis, and every day can be a challenge to find your first set of customers or product-market fit. In this search, Startups spend much time thinking of the one feature which will differentiate them from the competition, the feature which will make customers come running in to use their product. If you already have a few customers using your product and you notice growth stalling, the most common solution startups think of is trying to find a new feature that you believe can be the catalyst for growth. Makes sense, right? If people are not using your product, you need to add a function that will change that. So you ask your customers what they would like, and decide to build that. Unfortunately, what this leads to the “Product Death Cycle”, something both Andrew Chen & David J Bland have documented. You should give it a read to figure out the issue with product adoption & feature creep.

If you are early-stage startup then you have more challenges:

SALES PITCHES BECOME COMPLEX

Your sales team has to pitch multiple features now. If the new feature is orthogonal to the current set, then they are going to have a tough time trying to figure out which feature to prioritize for each prospect.

MARKETING NEEDS TO PROMOTE MORE FEATURES.

Your marketing team now has more keywords to push, more landing pages to manage, generally more work to do.

SUPPORT & SUCCESS ARE OVER BURDENED

The same goes for your Customer Success & Support teams. The team now needs to work to up-sell to the current customer without more human resources, that means less success & support

NEW FEATURES = NEW BUGS

As you need to write more code, you will inherently have more bugs, which will take away time from your dev team, who now have to resolve those issues.

MULTIPLE BACKLOGS

Product teams now have two backlogs to manage. Each feature will need more iterations

In short, it is going to push & stress each of your teams. Which will lead to friction, issues & Arguments, and finally attrition?

In an attempt to chase everything, you may end up achieving nothing

Unless you have money in the bank, which can help in hiring, you need to be careful when building new features, especially if they are orthogonal.

Photo credit: topgold via Foter.com / CC BY

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