So everyone (ok everyone in the techie/geekie sphere) has been talking about the demise of Kiko, one of the more talked about Web 2.0 startups. Kiko was/is an online calendaring tool, and was climbing up the popularity charts until suddenly things started to go awry. The launch of Google's calendar and 30boxes was, of course no co-incidence, but the common presumption that Google entering any market is going to kill off all startups is probably quite wrong.
In two wonderful insider analyses, Richard White and Justin Kan (kudos on the straight-from-the-gut posts) list out what they think really went wrong. So if you're another Web 2.0 entrepreneur in India or elsewhere, give these a read, and then some. White says:
- Stay focused: The team kind of lost focus on the main product, right when Google calendar and 30boxes launched.
- Release early, but not too early: Don't be so enthused about getting all those cool features out that you end up releasing a kludgy, buggy version that actually turns users off.
- Don't add way too many features, that you don't even know your market needs or not.
- You got to be able to make the leap from "Technosphere" to the mass market - the everyday Outlook calendar user, who sees little value in suddenly using the new online calendar/word processor/spreadsheet/whatever that you're so kicked about.
Kan mentions some of the same points, as well as:
- Working from home may be great in keeping the overheads low, but it could often come at the cost of productivity, and may I add, team spirit.
- Getting the right people on board is essential for any company, but can spell life-or-death for a startup.
- Get your investors involved, and don't hesitate to ask for help
- Build incrementally. Don't aim to build the mother-of-all products right at the start.
I think I'll pipe in as well:
- Think customer, not features. As techies, we tend to focus on what we think is cool, while we forget that we're actually building a product not to show off how kick-ass our programming skills are, but to actually solve a problem or a pain area
- Consider user inertia. Often great ideas fail simply because user inertia is too great. You got to give the average user (whom you are planning to reach out to, right?) enough reason and motivation to switch over to using your Web 2.0 product instead of their desktop utility. So is your Mom using your product yet?
- Don't buy into your own hype. Hype and product viability/success are usually inversely proportional. Remember Segway? Or the entire saga of the dotcoms? Don't get carried away by search engine rankings, website hits, interviews, or newspaper column inches. Stick to the parameters that really signify whether you'll make it or not - critical mass of users, and user feedback.
- Budget for marketing and PR. Technically, you might be the next Google. But you got to put enough moolah behind your marketing efforts. Most products don't sell themselves. They need to be sold - aggressively. Ignore the moralistic standpoint that if it is so good, it'll sell itself. Sorry, it simply won't.