Six Things You Should Do Before Building Your Product

Products, services, delivery-, wholesale- or resale-businesses, software as a service, subscription based models — all business models have one thing in common: they are about a market that demands something, and this market consists of people. Which means whatever you are offering, to make it a success it needs to be a good fit with what people want and what they are expecting. More than simply covering you customer’s basic needs, it needs to be fulfilling and, at best, exceeding their hopes.

The power and disadvantages of opinions

Opinions are important, they help us to navigate through life. Especially when you have a vision. Your opinion drives change, it can disrupt markets and motivate people. These opinions are valid and necessary, but they can stand in the way of learning and improving.

For an innovator it is easy to become tangled up in your own bias. It is human nature. Especially startups are prone to get carried away in their own bubble of enthusiasm. History is full of failed companies that didn’t see coming what killed them. Guided by opinions, they fearlessly ignored all indicators telling them about the reality until it was too late. Whenever a business has failed in an economy, it had always to do with an opinion. Investors, stakeholders, founders and CEO’s all have opinions and they all made decisions based on what they felt was right.

Opinions were the compasses that steered ships into safe harbours or hidden icebergs. Still, having a feeling you are doing the right thing can be terribly misguided, if you lack the necessary information to make a good decision. How do you break out of this bubble?

What you need are better informed decisions. Here are a few points which will help you making improved decisions:

1. Don’t start with an idea

You have heard it before: “Anyone can have an idea.” Right — but does it not depend on how you execute it? Or the team and a great masterplan for planned features? In truth, there is more to this: A good idea proves to be a great one once people start using your product or service. Which is a long way coming.

Begin with something bigger than the idea. Begin with a concept. It is not a plan of what to do when, or which feature to build first, but a framework of an idea. A concept includes answers to important questions. It is not all carved in stone and it should certainly not be rigid, but it should represent your vision. And this vision should capture things like a core market and room for expansion, a core audience and a reason to buy and a reason to use your product — again and again.

Only if your customers are building a lasting relationship with your product or service, they want to come back. They don’t disappear after an initial sale.

How do you know if people want to use your product, before you even have a product out there?

2. Ask honestly for whom are your making it

The first and most important question you need to answer is for whom you are building your product or service. Maybe you discovered a missing element in a market ripe for disruption. Or you had an idea that perfectly fills a niche in a crowded market. In either case (and every other case), you need to carefully consider who will use your product. Inevitably this leads to the question of who these people are and what motivates their own decision patterns.

Customers are not just consumers, they are people like you and me. People with their own circumstances in life, their context and social environment that surrounds them. These people have a value system based on trust and good experiences. They are looking for friends, in people as well as in products. So you should ask yourself: is my product, my service, a really good friend of the people it is for? Or is it just about making money?

3. Work on overcoming your own bias

What are those people thinking? What is going on in their heads? What are they hoping for? Sit together with exemplary people who could be your future customers (not your sister or boyfriend). Let them use a competing product or service and watch them doing it. Talk to them, ask them about their experience.

Analyse your competitor’s products for strengths and weaknesses. Figure out how these weaknesses or strengths correspond with people’s behaviour. Put them on a linear customer journey map. You are finding the reasons why people like or don’t like using these products or services.

Try to gather as much information as possible, but constantly sift through it and search for patterns and clusters of indicators for what’s going on in people’s heads.

You arrived at your opinion about a subject for a reason. It didn’t come out of nowhere. So you formed a hypothesis about a situation or need and now you need to confirm it is true . Find and collect evidence that proves this potential. The tools you have are the Internet, social networks, survey forms with incentives, interviews and user journeys in person — basically everything that helps you finding genuine answers.

Don’t just ask people what they think of your idea. Even more crucial: Don’t ask people what they would want. This would force people to think in abstract terms of an innovator and disruptor. To have a vision is your job, not theirs. Ask people what they are missing instead. Ask them how they feel using something they already know. Ask them about what they could change, if anything, to make something better. Ask them which qualities they are looking for in a product or service related to what you are about to build.

It is a lot of work, but you don’t have to do it all yourself:

4. Hire a product specialist (UX) together with developers

First, let’s get something out of the way: UX is not an afterthought, a process you apply after you built your product. That would be the worst of all outcome, because it means you are making experience design decisions without having any information to base them on. You would build a product based on guessing instead of knowing.

To be fair: UX is not a straight forward, fully outlined and predefined process. There are many models floating around of what UX should encompass. In its best form, UX will help you define and building the product. UX does not begin by testing something you already built, it starts with your concept and a number of ideas you want to have confirmed.

The hypothesis and validation of hypothesis is the most important toolset you have. A good UX consultant or product designer should begin by looking at your concept, at potential functions, and they should search for evidence in the market that these features are expected status quo or hold room for improvement. They should be looking at competitors, at user behaviour patterns, also at established paths, to figure out what is going on and why people are doing what they are doing. Once you find what drives people to do something, you have a better chance of redefining it as a well implemented feature.

You need someone with Design Thinking and UX experience aboard to help you plan your product features. You should regard them as developers and let them be part of your team that will define the product. Bringing in a UX person from the start will be guiding your team to find the right questions for the answers you are looking for, to better evaluate the importance of planned features, before investing time in building them.

5. Build small, then test, expand to larger territory, iterate and repeat the process

Once you have a set hypotheses you want to check out, start building the smallest possible array of something that does just what it needs to do. This is not a full product and it should not be perceived as such. It should consist only of elements necessary to let a user go through a task to achieve what they want to do.

To test a hypothesis, you can use a deck of cards. Or it can be a row of sticky notes with steps on a white board. It can be set of actions in a form with radio buttons or check boxes. It can be an interactive set of wireframes. The important part here is that you are testing flow, not a static image. What it should not be is a high-res user interface. Anything that helps you tell the story to guide a user through the journey of accomplishing a task is good and helpful. So if you need the colour red to indicate a state, use red. But if you don’t need red, don’t use it.

From there you can evolve the results into your minimal viable product — a term that has been stretched broad and thin to justify the presumed necessity of fully built products that only lack nice-to-have features. It shouldn’t be the most minimal product you get away with. Think of it as the combined core features, determined in relevance by the reasons you found, why people would use your product in the first place.

For an example, if you are building a flight booking app and you found that one thing that people really want and no one is delivering it, build this feature first and have people using it, then move to build everything around it.

6. Be ready to accept extreme changes

Here comes another potential pitfall: It is very easy to slip back into your own bias mode, thinking what you want, or what you think is best, is actually best for the product. It is so easy, because you are smart and you have already learned quite a bit about your product and its market. What you can’t know is the stuff that is not yet in your head.

You will come across things you did not anticipate. Your view of what is important and what isn’t may be shifting balance. Suddenly a feature you thought was essential turns out to be off the radar for your target group. It could become irrelevant, or it could go the other way, rising from a small thing to a powerful feature. Either way, you have to brace yourself for big changes.

In retrospect, after successfully launching and selling a product over a period of time, you may think that a lot of your team’s decisions were obvious. And you will think, perhaps, how foolish you were for not having seen the path it has taken. But that is only how it looks in retrospect. In reality, you couldn’t have made these decisions without outside influence, to arrive at where you are then.

Admitting misconceptions is almost as hard as admitting mistakes. But realising that what you thought is important is not, and saying “no”, leaving those beloved features behind — this is probably the quintessential element that will decide over success or failure of your venture. Be bold and leave stuff away. Say more “no” than “yes” to features you want, and focus on what people showed you they care about. Then make those things, but in an unexpectedly great way.

It is what made every great product ever made a stunning success.

Factorial Will Change The Way Your Company Deals With HR

Co-founders of Factorial Pau Ramon Revilla (CTO) and Jordi Romero (CEO).

There’s a new startup in town, and we’re lucky to say it’s an itnig company.

Factorial wants to make the HR role both easier and less time consuming through their cloud-based HR platform.

Factorial has already started on-boarding several Barcelona companies to their platform.

Many small and medium businesses don’t have a budget for a full-time HR person, so managing employees, their contracts, pay slips, time off, benefits, insurance and much more, is left to the CEO, the office manager or someone else.

All of these tasks, and more, are automated through Factorial, explains CTO and co-founder Pau Ramon Revilla.

Our customer interviews shows that HR managers use 80 percent of their time on cumbersome chores, and only 20 percent on building culture and boosting productivity. We want to flip those numbers.

Bringing the Zenefits model to Europe (and the world..)

Even though there’s several HR management platforms in Europe, they are not designed for the needs of small and medium businesses (payroll, benefits, time-management, etc.) that Factorial offers, says CEO and co-founder Jordi Romero:

The initial seed idea was to bring the Zenefits model to Europe.

Zenefits was born from newly introduced regulations that forced American companies to provide certain benefits for their employees, but European markets work very differently, and this is where Factorial comes in. They’re currently exploring what to offer in the different markets, and they’ll start in a few European countries, according to CEO Romero.

Usually all companies reinvent their own way of dealing with HR processes, using forms and excel sheets, which is very time consuming. We’ll change that.

Moving fast

Only three months ago Jordi and Pau didn’t have a product, but they’ve been building non-stop and have recently started on-boarding companies into their platform, according to CTO Ramon:

We’re testing what’s basically our MVP with 5–6 companies in Barcelona now, and so far the feedback has been good.

They’re currently raising their first round of funding, and will be using the next 6 months to build an international product, and then establish partnerships for benefits around Europe.

“The initial seed idea was to bring the Zenefits model to Europe” — Jordi Romero

Both Romero and Ramon are coming from executive positions in SaaS company Redbooth, where they worked as VP of business development and CTO.

We’re bringing a lot of valuable knowledge and experience from Redbooth on how to run a SaaS company, the metrics, how to convert users in to actual customers, and much more.

Targeting startups

Factorial is meant for all small and medium businesses, but the first months their targeting startups, says CEO and co-founder Romero.

The co-founders in talks with the itnig design and business development team.

Tech startups usually have higher salaries, and are more creative in ways to compensate their employees. At the same time, they’re often very depending on efficiency and productivity, so it’s a very good fit for Factorial.

Factorial is one of six companies currently being built in itnig’s venture builder in Poble Nou, and all the other startups in the ecosystem are using Factorial.

Now the race to build a great team has begun, says Ramon:

We’re looking for great developers to help us build Factorial. As the CTO of Redbooth I’ve learned a lot about how to grow a team, create a good culture and to foster productivity and creativity. I’m looking forward to applying this knowledge in Factorial.

This post was written by Sindre Hopland, media manager at itnig.

Parkimeter Wins CECOT Award

The Catalan organization CECOT representing over 6000 entrepreneurs, awarded itnig startup Parkimeter with the award for best new company.

Once every year CECOT hosts what they call “the night of the entrepreneur” in Barcelona. Here they award different kind of local entrepreneurs, and this year it was co-founders of Parkimeter, Jordi Badal and Ferran Gatius turn to get honored.

The startup that allow you to reserve, pay and find parking spots for your car, was created in 2013, and has been experiencing massive growth in both users and parking facilities the last years.

Soon 500 places to park

As of today, the company offers their users over 380 different locations to park their cars.

Parkimeter’s plan is to reach 500 parking facilities by 2017 in over 80 cities in Spain.

Parkimeter has parking facilities all over Spain.

And it seems like the service was needed, as the startup has parked over 50.000 cars the last three years. To make the parking experience even better, Parkimeter will in a matter of weeks release the new app so you easily can book your parking through your phone.

Even though the area around Barcelona is the one with most parking facilities at the moment, Parkimeter plans for expansion. They raised a seed round this June and plans to start their expansion to the rest of Europe by next year.

“How parking has been changed through technology, is similar to how the travel sector was disrupted 15 years ago,” say co-founder of Parkimeter Jordi Badal.

Smart sustainable cities

Parkimeter recently spoke at the SmartCity conference InFocus 2016, held in the Chinese city of Yinchuan this September.

This year’s CECOT event was also focused on building smart and sustainable cities, that are able to offer services that bring improvements to the lives of its citizens.

The Parkimeter team in their headquarters in Barcelona.

At the CECOT conference smart cities like New York and Dubai presented their plans for the future along with Barcelona represented by Parkimeter which introduced their initiatives to facilitate parking according to people’s needs, optimizing traffic, reducing the visual impact and aligning itself with the policies of mobility each city has.

But Parkimeter does only care about the environment, they also care about your wallet, as Parkimeter’s facilities is up to 50 percent cheaper than normal street parking.


This post was written by Sindre Hopland, media manager at itnig.

Prepare For The Future Of Marketing — Build Your Content Factory

There are few startups or young companies that doesn’t have a blog these days. We all know the benefits of producing content in one shape or another, but exactly how to do it the right way?

There are several ways to establish yourself as a quality content provider, and some things you need to avoid when interacting with people through content.

Build Credibility and expertise

Content marketing is more about showing of your knowledge, to help people, than to sell something.

A common mistake companies often do, is to produce their content like a very good-looking ad for their product. Wrong.

A blog article will usually never lead to a sale or a direct purchase, it’s about building credibility as an expert in your field. So when your potential customers is ready to make a purchase he or she knows what brand to trust with his wallet.

How content marketing doesn’t work.

This means that you can’t fake being an expert if you really want to get something out of your content. This blog you’re reading right now is not existing for you to buy or invest anything in itnig.

We want to be a real resource for the startup community, so that our startups benefits from the reputation itnig has as a good provider of useful knowledge.

If you’re company full of experts or people with a lot of experience you should take advantage of their knowledge, and present it through your content.

If you’re a startup, with a young team without experience, you can bring in external people from your network, experts or others for an interview, but present it through your brand, so both you and your external expert benefit from it.

Stay Relevant

Staying in touch with trends is getting harder, as trends are changing every day.

One of the ways of staying in touch with what’s relevant for your audience is creating a balance of current and evergreen content.

To only cover current trends is great when it’s hyped, but it’s a big risk to take if it fades away in a month or two. In other words, many hours of hard work can be wasted. To stay relevant you also need to present evergreen content; videos & posts that explain timeless topics which have been discussed, and will be discussed for the next ten years:

All of these articles are evergreen, and will bring people to the itnig blog for the next years. With a balance between this kind of content, and current events in the industry you’re in, you’ll be sure to create a brand that shines of relevance.

Avoid content shock

We are reaching a point in content marketing where publishing 500 word articles for SEO isn’t really working anymore.

As everyone is creating content we need to know our customers or users much better. Do the research, and instead of creating tons of short posts, create longer content with higher value. Also because Google now favors that kind of content. The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words. Also Medium favor longer content, as a 7 minute read will rank better in their algorithms.

If you’re building or running a company I guess you spend a good amount of time getting to know your customers. Use this information to shape your content.

It’s however worth mentioning that if you’re doing video content, the rule of length does not apply as much as with written or audio content. If it’s not a super interesting keynote, try to keep it shorter, around 1–2 minutes, especially in social media.

Across platforms

There’s tons of places on the internet where you can promote your content.

Medium, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, the list goes on..

The key is again to know your customer and your content. All platforms has their target audience and one or more types of content that performs well. Medium is obviously good for text, especially longer form. Facebook and Youtube is great for video. Twitter is great for spreading the word fast.

The different social media channels all serve their particular purpose, and you can’t stick to only one. When itnig writes a medium article we always try to include:

  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Social media content

It should be a goal to do this in all posts, but it’s hard and resource demanding. It’s however these posts that people read and share the most.

Now, go build your own content factory!


This post was written by @sindre hopland, media manager at itnig, and based on Scott Mackin’s talk at itnig this fall.

Why Barcelona Is Turning Into An European Hub For Gaming Startups

A total of 120.000 people attended the Barcelona Games World conference in 2016.

Barcelona Games World 2016 recently ended as a success with over 120.000 visitors over four days. It was the first year the congress was held, and entertained its attendants with over 1000 gaming stations, 30 mini conferences and 371 interviews with prominent game developers.

But this is only one of several elements that makes Barcelona one of the most vibrant hubs for gaming startups in Europe.

Big players

Most technology hubs around the world has big players both stealing & contributing to the environment. In some ways you can say that the big players validate the ecosystem with their presence.

As London houses major fintech startups such as Transferwise, Mondo & Atom, Barcelona has several big gaming startups like King (Activision), Social Point (local), Digital Legends and Tutotoons which have raised millions of euros the last years and engages 100 of millions of people through mobile and desktop games every day.

There’s also been a long time presence from veterans such as Ubisoft, Gameloft and other heavy hitters.

There are also a community of many AR and VR startups and companies that can be beneficial for game developers looking to create games in this space. Not to talk about betting games startups such as Playfulbet with over 6 million users worldwide, that have a huge community of Esports enthusiasts.

Pol Ruiz, CEO and founder of Playfulbet attended the Barcelona Games World, and told me how the conference was one of the greatest gatherings of gaming industry ever taking place in Barcelona.

The city is playing along

But big companies and innovative startups are not enough in the long run, to foster a true hub for gaming startups in Barcelona you also need supporters: gamers.

Luckily, Barcelona is also home to thousands of gamers. Not only shown through the Barcelona Games World conference, but through the annual Esports event ESL Expo, that attracted over 5000 people last year.

ESL Expo Barcelona attracted thousands of people.

Also local authorities are playing along, as Barcelona Activa, the local government arm supporting startups in the region has been backing an accelerator called Game BCN, aiming at accelerating gaming startups. There are also several gaming startups with funding and loans from the government operating from the city.

But it’s not only the local government who’s playing along, also the technical universities offer education focused on game design and development, both and bachelor and master degrees.

One of the biggest events in Barcelona every year is the Mobile World Congress, with over 100.000 attendants from all over the world. The speakers for the MWC 2017 was released last week, and the top headliner was John Hanke CEO of Niantic Labs that created Pokémon GO.

There are few statistics about the gaming industry in Barcelona, but in Spain there are about 450 development studios, with about 5.000 employees, where 40% of the workers are in Catalonia, according to Asociación Española de Videojuegos.

According to the AEV there are around 110 game studios located in Catalunya, and the number is growing every year.

What to expect from the future?

So with all these gaming related companies and institutions, can we call Catalunya or Barcelona one of Europe’s growing gaming hubs?

I think it’s safe to say that if the community continues to grow like it does now, we’ll see a lot of great companies coming out of the city.

For now, it makes it easier for the existing startups and entrepreneurs to find a friendly community and support for their ideas.