Pimpin’ (a Product) Ain’t Easy

Written by Chris Ivey on May 17th, 2011. Posted in Lessons Learned

It turns out that launching a product is much harder than launching a service company. If you’re hanging out a shingle as a service company, you can count on generating revenue almost as soon as you start to win contracts. That’s not the case when you build a product. You have to have enough money available to continuously inject revenue into research and development for months or even years before you can generate any revenues.

I had just lost my job, and had very little money of my own. This meant that I would have to convince other people to invest their money in my venture. I decided to ask my former employers for advice. They were kind enough to introduce me to a friend of theirs, a former CEO who was willing to hear out my proposal and give me some practical ideas as to how to proceed.

He suggested that I canvas prospective customers to gauge the level of interest so I would have some hard numbers to bring to prospective investors. This was easier said than done.

It’s very hard to get access to business owners and CEOs during at any time, and especially during a recession. The people who run businesses are very wary of wasting their time, and they hate being sold to. However, if you can overcome their initial resistance, most business owners are happy to talk about their problems and to make suggestions as to what they want.

It took a while before I was able to find anybody who would talk to me, but I eventually did, and it was then that I learned my second lesson: you can’t sell a solution to people who don’t think they have a problem.

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Chris Ivey

Christopher Ivey is the CEO of ShareThink Ltd., a technology innovation company located in Almonte, ON, just outside Ottawa.

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