Building product as an early stage team

September 11, 2023
Building your product is one of the most fun and challenging tasks at a startup.

Building product and implementing new features is one of the most exciting parts of running a startup, because through this process, the startup can deliver from scratch something powerful that the world wants to use. Nevertheless, doing it efficiently is always a challenge. On any day, your customers can drop several key feature requests, your team members can have new suggestions on what could be impactful for you customers, and it can be quite chaotic to prioritize the ideas that will actually make a difference for your customers and the company’s trajectory. In this post, I would like to walk through some of the things that we are doing at Hubble to continue to build and enhance our product.

Find and start with a handful of paying customers

Getting to the first 5–10 paying customers that can give you feedback was absolutely crucial in our product development journey. If you have a core group of unaffiliated customers (not your friends or acquaintances because their feedback will probably be biased, and many of them won’t even actively use your product) that want to use your product, you can continue to engage with them directly and get their opinions and thoughts on every feature that you are planning to build. Those early customers can be hard to get, and it may take multiple product iterations until you get them but once have them onboard their voice will be a guiding source of truth that will show you the way.

If you still don’t have those early customers, please read this blog post on how Hubble acquired its first ten paying customers.

Offer good customer support

Many people may think that customer success is a separate function, but if you are still small (i.e. less than 10 people), everyone in the team needs to do everything to (1) ensure that the right product gets built, (2) it gets into the hands of the right people and (3) the customers that get their hands on it continue to stick with the product and continue to fall in love with it by paying you. Customer support touches on the last category of making people continue to stick with the product. I strongly believe one of the founders should own this in the early days, because as you continue to provide hands on support, you will continue to unearth the deepest pain points, bugs and issues that are preventing the customer from having a good experience. No company that I know has shipped a perfect product from Day 1, but the constant feedback that results from providing good customer support can be hugely helpful in getting closer. Instead of relying just on async support tickets or emails to your CS inbox, talk to them directly through a real-time messaging platform you prefer (Slack, Discord or even WhatsApp). As a reminder, people are much more willing to giving good feedback and suggestions if you engage with them personally and show passion in building something that can help them.

Use a feature request channel or board

As you talk with your customers, you will get tons of feature requests and bug reports. This is actually a good thing because it means people are engaging with your product, but it can also be overwhelming because it will make you feel fragile. Take a deep breath and write these down (we use Notion). Preferably, rank them based on customer details such as ACV, team size etc. After collecting these details, focus on the repeat offenders that continue to bubble up. Those ones are the ones that are likely to make a difference and should be prioritized on your roadmap. We also found it very helpful to hold regular team-wide discussions to go over the customer requests so that we can collectively prioritize on the things that matter. This collective process will empower team members to have more ownership and ensure everyone is solidly aligned on what the deliverables should be.

One related precaution that early stage teams should take is never building everything for everyone, as the team can lose focus on delivering the big picture. Focus on delivering the features that matter while sticking to the company’s vision.

Collect product feedback continuously across all stages

The time and effort that it takes to continue to iterate, design and experiment with your product is decreasing

If you are building a large feature, we’ve found it very helpful to show concepts and product designs to our users (yes we use our own product for this purpose 😉. Even during the early ideation phase, you can test and validate your assumptions with tangible user feedback. Whenever your design team builds out a prototype based on some key specs, you can create concept tests so that you can share them with your users and get their feedback & thoughts. This process can be helpful to measure the usability of your concepts but also perform preference / split testing on different versions and see which is the most effective. Instead of building something and seeing if it sticks, you can involve real feedback from users in the product development process so that you can avoid mistakes and test your core hypotheses.

Summary result of an example concept test you can run with Hubble throughout your product development process.

Lastly, talk to your users after shipping. Figure out if the feature is helpful and ask users if they are utilizing the features in the way you expected them too. We have continued to discover so many unexpected insights when we engage with users after releasing new features, both through synchronous zoom calls, slack conversations and through our contextual in-product surveys.

We have used Zoom to schedule regular meetups with customers to get their input on our new features

If you are curious on how to use Hubble for both pre-launch and post-launch feedback, please check out some of our guides below:

In summary, building a product and continuing to sharpen it is a difficult but rewarding task. At Hubble, we have continued to focus on our customers by providing hands-on support and prioritizing repeated requests from our core customers. We have also focused on collecting user feedback at all stages, making sure to test our assumptions as early as when things are in the Figma prototype phase. Do you have any other ideas or suggestions or thoughts on how to prioritize features and build out your product roadmap? Feel free to drop them in the comments below or get in touch with me at brian@hubble.team or join our community.


Frequently Asked Questions

Read other articles
Brian is the CEO and Founder of Hubble. Brian started Hubble to build a unified tool that allows product and UX teams to continuously discover their user's needs. Brian leads the sales and marketing efforts at the Company and he also works closely with the product team to deliver the best user experience possible for Hubble customers. In his free time, Brian likes to explore New York City and spend time with his family.

Related posts

Challenges and best practices for recruiting B2B participants in user research

Challenges and best practices for recruiting B2B participants in user research

Hubble is now SOC 2 compliant

Hubble is now SOC 2 compliant

The Best Survey Tools for Research in 2024

The Best Survey Tools for Research in 2024