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The soul of a product

When Lauren was pregnant with our first child, someone gave us that book of children names. It contained a huge list of kid names and the most popular names by decade and by region worldwide.

That book didn’t help us. We ignored the book completely and we just felt like Sophia was the right name. It felt right and we loved that name.

The reason I bring this up is because in my experience the best founders have a gut and instinct about the product. They pay attention to their users but they trust their instinct. They don’t trust or pay attention to market research reports, a competitive analysis matrix or think about focus groups. Those things don’t drive decisions about product for these founders. Especially in the early days.

Yesterday I had three meetings in a row where the founders I met with talked at length about their plans for seo, landing page optimization, a/b testing and other data driven tools. Instead I really wanted to hear why they building their product, I wanted to hear their vision and the problem they wanted to address.

It reminded me of a fine post that my friend Antonio Rodriguez (theonda.org) just wrote a few days ago that a/b testing is a tool not a cure all. It’s a great post and I encourage you to read it.

I do believe data is extremely important. One of the best things about the web is that you can learn a lot by looking at the data. And the tools are just getting better.

But these data tools are just that. They don’t and shouldn’t replace a product’ soul. Because that is everything.

(excuse the typos and lack of links. Wrote this on my iPhone in a cab).