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As a founder, you’ve recognized your “Aha Moment”, stoked the passion to solve it, and you’re eager to turn your idea into a successful startup. But where do you start? Building a product from scratch can be overwhelming, but there are some key steps you can take to help you get started on the right track.

The first step is to go deeper on the problem you’ve identified. In “Recognizing your Aha Moment” we talked about validating that the problem is real and painful, and that the market potential for solving it is large. Now a deeper understanding of the specific pain points you’re trying to solve is critical to building a successful solution. Again, the keys to success lie in the insights gained from user discovery. Talk to potential customers and stakeholders to gain this deeper understanding of the issues and its impact. If able, try spending a full day with your customers to understand the problem in the broader context of their day and existing toolset. This will help you build empathy for and knowledge of your target audience and guide you in developing a solution that meets their needs.

Once you have a better understanding of the finer pain points from talking to customers, it’s time to identify your ideal customer profile. Who are the people that are most affected by these problems, and who would benefit the most from your solution? You may have initially thought that your ideal customer is companies with sales teams. But this is too broad. The solutions for an SMB sales team and an enterprise sales team are likely very different. This is the step where you need to get down to the specificity of “My ideal customer is an SMB with a relatively flat sales team of less than 20 people, typically with a longer sales cycle like healthcare, government, or education.” 

With a clear understanding of your problem and target audience, you can begin to define possible solutions. Brainstorm different ideas and approaches to solving the problem, and evaluate them based on their feasibility, impact, and scalability. But don’t get too attached to your ideas just yet. It’s important to test your solutions early and often to ensure that you’re on the right track. This is the motivating reason why we at Mark II Ventures develop a “MVP Hypothesis” for each of our portfolio companies. Even in the naming of the exercise we are acknowledging that we are likely wrong, but can develop something meaningful to test.

From your MVP Hypothesis, develop prototypes and test them with your target audience. Use their feedback to refine your solution and iterate quickly. This will help you define a product that truly meets your customer’s needs and increases your chances of success.

Remember, building a successful startup is a marathon, not a sprint. Take the time to go deep on the problem, understand your customer, identify possible solutions, and test early and often. With persistence, dedication, curiosity,  and a willingness to adapt, you can turn your “Aha Moment” into a well defined and tested plan to solve an important problem. 

Stay tuned for our next post in this series, where we’ll explore the importance of working with strong teams to help build your product MVP. 

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