The most common time and money-wasting traps with lessons from entrepreneurs and Juicero
We all fall into time and money wasting traps because we are, after all, human. Learn a few lessons from entrepreneurs that attended Y combinator startup school.
11 January, 2020 02:56PM
Have you ever bought expensive things and later found out
you won’t be needing them? How does that make you feel? You’re likely to feel
worse once you realized how much time and money you’ve wasted on your startup.
Before you catch those feelings, know that they’re one of those lessons
learned. As entrepreneurs, we learn from various angles and the less expensive
ones are the ones learned beforehand.
Smart entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for time
and money-wasting traps to avoid. So, we’ve summed up lessons written by
entrepreneurs during Y combinator startup school last year to help you navigate your
He believed that paraphrasing Paul Graham and anything other than talking to users and
building products to solve problems is the most common time and wasting trap.
Also, over-engineering and not shipping early enough is one of them. Patenting,
Trademarking, incorporating and all those costs without proving the concept
first is a waste of time and money.
We agree with Chaitanya Vaidya, we’d also like to point
out that one needs to make sure the problem he intends to solve exist and it’s
worth solving. Have you heard of Juicero? the infamous producer of $400 hyped juice
squeezer. The company started selling its squeezers for whooping $700 before
the price was reduced to $400 after a few months of operation, promising to
squeeze out fresh produce in three minutes. However, reporters discovered they
can do that for free with their bare hands and faster!
Just as Chaitanya Vaidya believed that Over-engineering
is a trap. We suggest you circle this to every department starting from the
admin down to designers etc. — “Overdoing” all in the name of perfection is a trap.
Juicero’s Founder; Doug Evans hired the best of Silicon Valley engineers, food
scientists and industrial designers that are at par with current trends. They
went overboard. Did we mention the juicer had a Wi-Fi-enabled? The juicer could
confirm the freshness of chopped produce by scanning codes printed on the wraps
Top VC firms came on board. You could see some
“heavyweights champions” such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well
as giant companies like Campbell Soup as Juicero core investors.
He believed that dreaming and strategizing for the future
when there is no product-market fit is one of the money and time-wasting traps.
“Coming up with a fully developed growth plan, when you don't even have a
product to grow is not a smart move,” He said
Ivan encourages startup entrepreneurs to use third-party
services and community libraries to operate lean. “While faking it until you
make it, put it before your users and customers and get their feedback,” he
said. To add to what he said, we always encourage entrepreneurs to also charge early
users a fee to use their beta products while gathering feedback. Yes, one can
do both successfully. People do not value things given on a platter of gold,
the same with free products as it’ll likely not yield much insight you need from
their feedback. If one gets something for free, obviously he’ll have little or
nothing to complain about or what changes that need to be made. However, once
there is a price tag on it, the case is different.
While gathering feedback and making changes to your
product based on the feedback, know that customer's feedback is like two sides
of the same coin; they’ll ask for more features, tons of it and will quietly
move away if your product has too many features. In a nutshell, when you listen
to your users, don’t ignore the market data — those analytics data, market segment behaviors, and
“I've found investing time in honing your craft skills
very important, particularly for younger founders, and I think I've seen it
under-appreciated sometimes. I had the good fortune to see Dropbox, Airbnb, and
Stripe develop from 0 employees to big businesses, and one thing they all had
in common was that the founders were very good at what they did (whether that
be programming or designing), and constantly worked to improve their
craftsmanship, in addition to talking to users and building product.
Personally, when I first started doing startups, I was pretty bad at coding,
and investing a lot of time and effort in my coding skills over many years paid
dividends in the long run”. Ivan said
According to Nicolas, the biggest time lost is due to bad
calibration on how much "free" time startups invest around a
potential user. He admitted to having been "selling" his product
first in the company he was working in, and spent a lot of effort on what
turned out to be what people are not interested in.
He believes there may be some time wasted also trying to
do SEO and promotion on the internet. One can spend days trying to promote his
or her technology or product and not getting anywhere. For an enterprise,
personal contact is the most efficient at the beginning.
For Taro, browsing through the latest and greatest in
web/mobile development technologies, and then persuading yourself that you need
to use it is one of the times and money-wasting traps he experienced.
No matter what your startup idea is, if
the product is not what people need “first” or want “second”, you’re bound to
waste your time and money running in circles until your startup capital goes
into the thin air.
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