Creating a software company.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like building a software company? Follow along.

At Envoy, we are creating a new application. It’s fun. We debate features, how they will work, what should be included. We get lost in “what if’s” and “how about’s.”

When we built our first application, we naively planned out every little feature without any customer feedback. We made too many assumptions. Version one of that software had many features, but few of them were features our prospects needed.

That was a hard and expensive lesson to learn. Ultimately, we had to shift our business model for a few years while we learned how to build software people actually want to use.

The most used features, the ones that make FM Dashboard stand out, are features our customers asked us to build.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany, by Steve Blank, talks about two strategies for building companies. The first is the Product Development Model. This is what we did the first time around. You have an idea. You execute on the idea. Then, you go out and see if anyone wants it.

The second model, the one Steve Blank proposes as the best option, is the Customer Development Model. In this model, you pick a niche customer group. You learn about the group and the problems they are facing. You spend time discovering the causes of those problems. Then you come up with an idea to solve those problems. Before you developing the product or service, you meet with as many of those prospective customers as possible. You say, “We are building this. Will this help you?” You listen, learn, iterate, and get commitments from people who will actually buy from you. Then you build.

This second model takes more time to get a product out, but you waste less time and money getting to something people will actually buy.

Back to planning. Planning feels like work. You get to tweak and modify all kinds of prospective realities, but the truth is planning in a vacuum doesn’t get you anywhere.

A better way to look at planning is to take on the mindset of a scientist. Create your you hypothesis and test it in the wild. Get out of your office and talk to the people who you will be serving.

Then, make something small and and ask, “If this works the way we say it will work, will you pay us money to use it?”

If they say yes, you know you are on to something. If they say know, great! You just saved a lot of time and money. The earlier you face rejection in the process the better.

Most of my business failures have been because I protected myself from rejection instead of getting out and talking to people. Don’t make the same mistake.

With our new application, we decided to build this application in public, and let you all in on what the process looks like. I will share what goes into taking something from an idea to an actual product, and you will get to see the victories and the failures on the way.

This new software is for restaurant managers and owners and it solves a core problem (which I will talk more about in the next post).

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If you are a restaurant owner, district manager, or manager, we are building something that you will want. We will be announcing beta access to this software soon, and the best way to qualify is to be on this list.