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Chapter 2. How to Define a Great Product

THE NEXT STEP OF the shipping process is making your product idea understandable and specific. If you’ve defined a mission and a strategy, then you have an understanding of who your customer is and what that customer needs. You also know what you need to do better and differently than your competition. With this knowledge and some inventiveness, you should be able to brainstorm a rough product idea. Or, if you’re like the vast majority of us, your management said, “Go build X,” and now you have to use more than one letter to communicate your objective to your team. In other words, how can you make the product real enough in words that designers can make mocks, recruiters can hire engineers to build it, and you can get funding to buy donuts and servers?

As you try to make your product understandable and specific, you will uncover assumptions that you’ve made about customer problems. These assumptions were baked into your strategy and your mission, because both your strategy and your mission followed from customer needs. I hate to break it to you, but you might be wrong about what customers need. We all know that Amazon, Google, and others have been wrong many times. So you’re probably right, but the best way to prove you are is to give customers a product and see what they say.

Serial software entrepreneur Eric Ries seems to agree with this approach, and makes a compelling case for building what he calls the minimum viable product in his book ...

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