#3 Discover as much as possible, iterate as fast as possible
As with almost all successful founders, Alan is someone with a strong bias to action. What was critical for the team, however, was ensuring that that action was taken in the right direction.
“It’s very easy for me to quickly go and begin creating prototypes. But we started the Entrepreneur First programme in September and didn’t write a line of code until Christmas – only three months before Demo Day.”
What Alan focussed on instead was ensuring that the team were focussing on the right solution, to the right problems – and iterating and ruling out ideas as fast as they could.
“Taking a product management mentality is naturally going to be hard for deeply technical founders. You have to discover as much as possible and iterate as fast as possible. But that doesn’t necessarily just mean test the code – test the people.
You need to be prepared to kill your darlings, because the likelihood that the first idea is going to be a good one is close to zero. Try out new versions as fast as possible. Draw on whiteboards, sketch on the back of an envelope, and ask your clients if it would work. And if it doesn’t, make a change, and ask if that would work.
The more we did that, the more refined the idea. That gave us a good vision of where we wanted to go.”
It was from this vision that Dev and Alan were able to build the MVP that they pitched to investors.
“Going into Demo Day, we knew that we had significant traction based on that MVP alone. A client had already signed us up to a six-figure trial, and we weren’t even six months old yet.
Our ‘proof point’ of the product’s potential had people lining up to give us their data.”
Based on that first MVP, and being able to clearly demonstrate the traction their idea could have, nPlan secured their Seed round within four months of Demo Day.
“We then began building out our models, and making the technology a reality.
We had, and still have this big vision of integrating risk, financing for projects and having an integrated view of the soft part of project delivery. It was this risk-driven approach that really excited investors.
Our story went from there.”
In the next part of this series, Alan will share how he and Dev continued their journey after Demo Day, and, from a product people want, built a culture people want to work for.