When in doubt, don’t build it

I have been pretty tied up with other projects the past couple of weeks, and haven’t posted an update on a product/platform I blogged about building a month or two ago. In short, I killed the idea of building it.

Shortly after I wrote that blog post, I read the book the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Eric Ries idea of doing product testing before making any significant investment in building technology resonated with me. I wasn’t doing this full time, so it would have been a colossal waste of time if I were to built it and no one used it.

I ran a few tests to gauge if there was any interests in the product. I first put up a launch site to gather email addresses for people who may be interested in it. I used social media and online ads to generate leads. Needless to say, I got very few signups.

Next, I did a few informal interviews with people who would be common users of the website. I was surprised to hear many people say that while they would like to expand their professional networks in the city and meet people in person, they preferred having friends connect them to people versus meeting strangers. That proved the assumption at the core of my idea to be invalid.

I spent maybe $75 doing this test and potentially saved myself hundreds, if not thousands, in wasted time and effort.

I have written previously, and continue to advocate that, organizations spend time testing product or campaign ideas before making significant investments. As I just made up, “it is better to have saved time and not built, then to have needlessly built it all.”