Amperity fmr Product Lead on Building From Idea To Business (Part 2)
Creating Your Dream Team For Your Idea
The concept of team fit centers around the notion that you are the chief instigator. Let’s say you came up with a business idea and acquired a 2 million dollar check. Who are the 2-3 people you would choose to be a part of your team to execute on your big idea? What are their skills, seniority level, experience, and what are their cultural values? These are crucial questions to ask yourself.
When I worked at Microsoft, I never understood why teams I was on were unable to innovate. I always thought they were idiots. I turned into that person always asking why because I didn’t understand. Why is this so hard? Why can’t we take a risk?
It’s safe to assume people are mostly hard workers. Nonetheless, if hard-working people are competent in X, it does not mean that they can do Y or Z. If X and Y are related to each other, then maybe, but that should be a test and learn. I find that often companies assume that since this one team excelled at this one project, then they can do the next project just as well.
From my experience that is not a great way of thinking. When thinking about forming a team, culture plays a huge role. Do you need a team that prefers systems thinking or personal relationships when it comes to working with others? Another thing you need to consider is your team member’s skill set and domain expertise. You should be adding people who excel in areas where you struggle. Finally, be sure to find mentors or advisors who can provide that fresh perspective.
Validating Your Idea
Now, let’s say you’ve discovered a problem you want to solve. How do you validate that the problem is actually a problem? How do you do it and what are you looking to validate? Well, first and foremost Google is not the answer. You are not going to be able to Google search your way into validation. In fact, you need to understand that your product is going to have buyers, users, and influencers.
In my opinion, validation is done exclusively through interviews. It is key that you write you questions ahead of time before you conduct a single interview. First, develop a hypothesis concerning who your buyers are, users are, and influencers are. Then, write down assumptions about the problem so that you can challenge them and find out if they are a fact your target.
With all these components, you are creating a value customer matrix. This allows you to see across all three constituents and the problems you think they are experiencing. Hopefully, the solution you came up with will solve a problem for all three constituents. Finally, be open and flexible to the idea that you would be better off solving another problem. Sometimes, our original ideas see us stumble across a bigger problem that you may have never thought about. It’s just a part of the process.
About the speaker
Mona Akmal is currently the CEO of Mad Alice - a startup that focuses on Mona’s three passions (art, storytelling & technology). Prior to starting Mad Alice, she led the product team at Amperity - driving product/market fit for the company’s first product and later building its first enterprise solution. In addition, she held product leadership roles at Zulily and Code.org. Mona also worked at Microsoft for a decade - leading product teams focused on SkyDrive and security services. Mona currently lives in Seattle.