From idea to implementation: 12 stages of startup design
Like any other project, a startup starts with an idea. And, remarkably, this idea does not have to be brilliant. Sometimes it is enough to create a solution with SECLGroup.com that wins against the background of existing analogs. But how to implement the idea and create a product that is attractive to consumers and investors?
Stage 1: Idea
Users stumbled upon a beautiful thing on the Internet but did not know where to find it. At some point, they began to post requests asking for a “similar dress” or something else and attached a picture. And this is where the idea of creating a service appeared.
Stage 2: Team
Gather people who will like your idea: at the stage of starting a business, the potential of an employee and “burning eyes” are of great value. The success of the project largely depends on the kind of people you bring in to work on the project. It is not difficult to identify such people from the rest of the mass. They, as a rule, are energetic, proactive, and “sick” for the cause with their soul.
Stage 3: Market
Try to estimate the size of the market. If the market for the services you offer has not yet been formed, try to analyze data from similar and related segments. To determine the return on investment in your project, you need to understand how many potential customers exist. Study your competitors, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and formulate your unique advantages based on this.
Stage 4: Concept
At this stage, you write a short description of the initial hypotheses about your business. It’s worth starting with the formation of a goal: what, why, and, most importantly, for whom you want to create. It is advisable to support this information with numbers. It is important to study the target audience in detail and, based on the information received, draw a portrait of the prospective client for yourself. This will help to more clearly define his needs and correctly formulate an offer. The conversion rate of a user into a permanent consumer directly depends on the correct choice of the target audience.
To accurately predict the behavior of a potential consumer, try to describe in detail one day in your life, breaking it into intervals of 15-30 minutes. Pay special attention to the time spent on the Internet.
You need to understand that in addition to the main audience – the one to which you will primarily target the project, there may also be a secondary one – persons potentially interested in your product. Describe how you see a client from each group. An important point is to estimate the size of the audience willing to pay for your product. As a rule, this group of people is much smaller than the total number of potential users. Close attention should be paid to the analysis of the strategic prospects of the project (SWOT analysis), as well as possible ways to monetize it.
Stage 5: Terms of Reference
There is not much point in the detailed design of a startup at this stage. The project develops and grows in real time, taking into account the wishes of users and the new vision of the author until his entire concept is fully implemented within the framework of the original idea. It is reasonable to start developing the terms of reference by dividing the entire project into separate, integral stages. Be sure to set deadlines! And it is better to allocate twice as much time for each stage as you initially think.
Stage 6: Prototype
Don’t start fundraising for a startup without building a prototype. Create a product blueprint with a set of baseline features. The prototype should be easy to understand and use. These can be page layouts that show what information and controls should be placed in sections of the site. This way you can see how the startup will work before programming it.
Stage 7: Testing
Once the prototype is ready, ask your friends to start using it. Your task is to determine whether you correctly identified the problem and whether the solution you propose satisfies the needs of the potential user. Testing the prototype allowed us to improve some elements of the service.
Stage 8: Alpha version
This is the stage at which the project is ready, but not yet tested. In the process of internal tests, some minor adjustments are made to the interface, which was not taken into account when developing and creating the terms of reference. Negotiations with the first clients begin.
Stage 9: Closed Beta
The project has a small number of followers attracted to test the product. After testing, work on the bugs is carried out. During closed beta testing, we analyzed the audience’s color preferences and realized the need to redesign the site.
Milestone 10: Public Beta
There is a moderately active attraction of users who are interested in the services that you offer, or users who are constantly in search of something new. The number one task at this stage is to turn the founders’ initial hypotheses about the market and consumers into facts. In parallel, work on the bugs is underway.
Stage 11: Launch
The beginning of the project, its promotion, and execution of a package of legal documents. Even after the initial idea is fully implemented, a successful startup continues to develop: the technical and ideological components are improved, and pop-up errors are corrected. There is also the issue of registering a trademark. It makes sense to file an application for trademark registration when you have invested some money in your name, and realized that it works, but it has not yet become popular. A trademark has a territorial limitation: it is possible to register a trademark in the USA if you have used it for two years.
Stage 12: Finding investors (can often follow the prototyping stage)
It is important to understand what part of the business you are ready to give to the investor. In order for the project to have a chance at life, some experts recommend giving no more than 15-25%. Arrange meetings with a large number of investors, find a few potentially interested partners, and proceed to negotiate the structure of the deal and close it. Do not be afraid to challenge the proposals of investors and offer your own conditions. Clearly define the limits of investor control and options for exiting the business. Be sure to write down these questions.