Daniel James

Daniel James

The 7 Deadly Sins Of Startups: Poor Product Design

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This is part of a 7-part series on reasons why businesses fail.

The Four P’s Of Marking: Price, Place, Promotion, And Product

Poor product design plays a big factor in startups failure. There’s a reason why a product is said to be the most important part of the marketing mix. In today’s world of cut-throat competition, producers have no alternative but to compete for the best offering in the market. Don’t mistakenly assume the other P’s can save you — inferior products cannot sustain on hype alone. Eventually, word will spread that what you’re selling isn’t worth the price.

Every year, thousands of startups fail due to offering a poor product. So, how do we ensure that our product is better than anything else on the market? We must step into the customer’s shoes and understand what makes or breaks a product. A product is your offering to the market, and you have to execute perfectly on the design, features, user experience, timing of the launch, and promotion.

What impacts the success of product design?

  • Value: Your product needs to offer more value than what you’re asking for in price. Value can be in terms of utility (usefulness), quality, customer service, design, and brand value. Customers should always feel like they are getting more than their money’s worth. Create more value for your customer than anyone else, and you’ll be successful.
  • Pricing: Failure to price a product correctly accounts for roughly 1/5th of startup failures, according to CB Insights. Price too low and your profit margins will disappear. Price too high, and you kill sales. The price point of your product significantly affects your revenue, so it’s important to get it right.
  • Timing: The same study by CB Insights found a mistimed product launch accounted for 13 percent of startup failures. The market, whether they know it or not, must be ready for the product. If you’re too early to market, people will struggle to see how your product relates to their lives and needs. Entering too late into a market can mean giving your competitors an insurmountable lead. However, if you time your launch just right and compliment it with the right promotion, you’ll have people saying “I’ve got to have that!”

Case Study: The Not-So-Magical Smartphone

General Magic was a hot tech startup of the 90s. They developed a handheld device— like a PDA, but with a touch interface and focused on communications. They essentially produced the first smartphone. However, despite technological breakthroughs, the final product was found lacking. The “phones” it made by partnering up with giants such as Sony, Motorola, and AT&T were not user-friendly. These large, heavy devices had screens that were difficult to read in the sun. And starting at $800, the price was far out of reach for the average consumer.

Although achieving significant advances in the communications technology sector, the usability issues and high price kept General Magic’s hotly anticipated device from reaching mass adoption.

Case Study: South Korean Success

Samsung is one of the largest companies in the world in terms of revenue. The conglomerate is the parent company of Samsung Electronics, Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung C&T, and Samsung Engineering, Samsung Life Insurance, and more. Through careful planning, market research, and innovation, Samsung has created ultra-successful products. In the 2000s, Samsung went from being nowhere in the smartphone business to climbing to the top mobile phone manufacturer. By creating an incredible amount of value for consumers, Samsung has managed to capture nearly 50% of the Android-run smartphone business.

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