*Sigh* tech. It’s all the rage. Build a business from your bedroom and have the freedom to work from anywhere, at any time. Raise millions of dollars and sell for billions, make money while you sleep, sell instantly to anywhere in the world – it all sounds very flashy, doesn’t it? Well, it is certainly exciting and if anyone comes to me with a tech idea I’ll be the first to say “yes! Do it!”
However, there are definitely some pointers I’ve picked up along the way. I decided to build Collabosaurus just over 3 years ago – wide-eyed, hopeful and so ready to quit my full time job. The reality? Well, it was very different to what I expected. Not bad, just different. A lot of this difference came from my lack of experience working in tech. So, here are 4 learnings I picked up while building a tech business, and I hope they help you, too.
- You don’t need an app
No matter what that digital agency, or your friends are telling you, it is unlikely you’ll need an app from the get-go. Why? They’re expensive to build, maintain and profit off. You’ll need to build an iOS and an Android version, both of which go through software updates like I go through a box of Malteasers.
What you really need to do, is test the idea before dumping all of your hard earned cashola into your first app build. Once you have validation and traction, you can potentially justify building that app. Of course, if your business idea is actually an app in its entirety – ignore this pointer – and instead make use of prototyping tools like POP mapping or invision to get your idea solid.
- You can build an MVP yourself
I promise you, you can! And you probably won’t need to learn code. You’ll just need a weekend to familiarise yourself with Canva and your chose website builder, and a few sharp photos (check out Unsplash for great, free stock images).
What’s an ‘MVP?’ It’s a ‘minimum viable product’ – a fancy way of saying “the bare minimum page or thing you can make available to some of your first customers.” To give you an example, Collabosaurus is a matchmaking platform for brands to source strategic brand partnerships. It allows you to match, connect, message, leverage and track marketing collaborations within the platform today – but that is not what our MVP would have looked like. Our MVP (had I been smart enough to do this myself) would have been a Squarespace website or Google Form that manually collected peoples’ details, industry and marketing goals. From there, I could have manually match-made brands together until I had proof the concept worked, I had attracted particular types of customers and was able to gain valuable feedback, testimonials and case studies.
If I had done this, I would have saved a whopping $70,000. Oh, what I could do with that 70k now. To give this a whirl, I can recommend Shopify, Clickfunnels, Squarespace or Wordpress, which have all kinds of great features you can use to bring your idea to life.
- It will never be perfect
And that’s okay! Building a tech product is a never-ending process. It is incredibly fascinating, but not particularly friendly on your hip pocket if your profit margins aren’t attractive. Make sure you’re budgeting for ongoing tech support and improvements, it’s a living brand that will always need investment. What’s more, technology continues to improve, so it pays to stay ontop of advancements.
- Seekbehaviours, notheresay
When I started Collabosaurus, I had a lot of publicists say “THIS IS AMAZING.” But when it came to the crunch at launch time, none of these people signed up. Why? Because behaviours speak louder than words. Digging deeper, we were attracting a completely different demographic, and it wasn’t until 18months later that we started to see a wave of publicists and agencies sign up. It’s important to gather both kinds of information here – qualitative feedback, but also analyse behaviours through analytics and awesome tools like HotJar. You’ll be amazed how much they differ.