My approach to product development
My name is JR. I’m the founder of Flurly, a marketplace for selling digital products.
I founded Flurly in January 2021 and over the past 5 months, Flurly has grown from 0 to over 1K sellers while also processing over 25k in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV).
I’ve also grown my Twitter following from 0 to over 2K in that time span. I build in public - I post monthly GMV/Revenue updates + spontaneous Stripe/Firebase/etc screenshots. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend you follow along at @TheBuilderJR
Today, I want to talk about how I approach product development. At a high level, my approach boils down to the following 3 principles:
1) Make the important things easy and the potentially important things possible
As a trained computer scientist, I tend to think about problems from a theoretical point of view. In particular, I like to model product development as follows:
User ➡️ Product ➡️ Outcome
Or in other words
A User uses your Product to achieve a specific Outcome.
The tricky part is identifying which outcomes users actually want. When I first started Flurly, I knew that users wanted to sell digital products and make money. However, I wasn’t sure if they wanted to collaborate and split revenue with other creators. Or if they want custom websites. Or if they wanted different prices for different countries (purchase power parity).
This delineation is how I decide whether to make a particular outcome easy or possible.
Since I knew selling digital products was an outcome users definitely wanted, I made it easy - enable going from 0 to listing a product in under a minute.
However, since I didn’t know if features like Purchase Power Parity (PPP), Collabs, Checkout, etc. would lead to valuable outcomes for users, I still built them, but placed them off to the side of the main user flow. It is still possible for users to achieve these outcomes, just with more effort.
Over time, I use user-based metrics to inform which features to cut and which to promote. The list of features you see on Flurly today are the result of this natural selection process.
2) Find a customer sponsor for all major feature developments
In addition to her enthusiasm and clear attachment to the problem/solution space, she also possessed the following traits of a great customer sponsor:
1) She was a super connector, who knew other notion template makers who wanted the same thing. As a result, I had confidence in the initial distribution/usage of the feature.
2) She was super engaged. Every step of the way, I’d ask her questions - should I structure the UI like this or that? How should permissions work? etc? Having this back and forth with a customer sponsor was invaluable when creating Collabs.
3) She was ready to use it the moment it was ready. This meant there was a 100% chance the feature would be used. And a non 0% chance that the second order effects (her selling the product) would naturally grow usage of the feature.
Collabs has since been instrumental in driving Flurly’s growth. For every major launch since Collabs, I’ve always had a customer sponsor similar to @thenotionbar.
3) Always be improving
The lifeblood of any early project is constant iteration. Going back to my computer science roots, I model the product improvement flow as follows:
Feedback ➡️ Improvement ➡️ Feedback
Or in other words
Feedback informs and drives Improvements to the product which in turn generates more Feedback
If you are early in your product and aren’t constantly improving the product, something is either wrong in your feedback collection or operational efficiency. Figure out where things are going wrong and get this flywheel spinning.
Feedback can come from anywhere - metrics, twitter DMs, support emails, etc. When I first started most of the feedback came from Crisp chats. It’s since grown to many more channels. It’s hard to predict how fruitful a channel will be apriori. Experiment with as many channels as possible.
I hope these principles I shared today are helpful in your product development journey. Without following these three principles, Flurly wouldn’t be where it is today.
In line with Principle 3: Always Be Improving, I suspect you’ll have feedback on what I’ve shared today. Please feel free to DM me on twitter or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear your feedback to improve my process.
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