Startup Myth: A good product is all you need to be successful

Having a good product won’t make your startup successful.

Listen to this unfortunate story I recently heard. Entrepreneur X and his team spent months building a “perfect” app. They poured over every line of code and aligned every pixel. They kept their heads down and worked hard. The project wrapped up and they pushed it live. On the precipice of launch day they hired temporary help to handle all of the buzz they were sure they were about to receive.

When the startup launched the next day, sales were completely flat. This company bought into the myth that a good product is all you need to build a successful business.

A good product is simply not enough. It’s an ingredient but it’s not the whole cake. Multiple things need to happen asynchronously with development to maximize your products launch. This is why having a hustling co-founder is so important. Let the engineers focus on building platforms and let the hustler focus on these things.


Marketing begins well before the product launches. If you want a good example of a marketing plan, checkout Mint’s Original Marketing Plan (circa 2007). This is a fantastic place to start.


Who is your product for? You need to tell your products story in a way that makes sense to your target market. Your narrative isn’t a bolted on feature, it’s the heart of your product. Your narrative should effect everything from design decisions, to customer support, to which features you implement.

P.S. If your target market is “everyone”, you need to focus.


You need to be continuously talking to your customers. Find out what makes them excited about your product. Discover their pain points. Doing this makes it easy to line up customers before you even launch. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. I can not overstate the importance of relationships in business.

Your turn: What else does a hustler need to do to help his startup succeed?

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  • This is exactly what I needed to hear today, and what I believe a lot of startups need to be reminded of regularly.

  • Also: a great product made for customers who don’t pay for things is a great product that’s not going to make any money.

  • Bobby Matson

    Re: Hustling – If you don’t have the relationships you need, show a clear path to get to them (ie sister has a friend who works at X company who’s dog is related to X person’s dog who can get us X endorsement)

  • I agree, this is why I hate when some ppl say to you “just make a app and make it good” – It’s like, thanks a lot of that tidbit of information that surely helps me figure out how to be successful. Geez! Thanks for this article and the tips.

    I also feel you need to make sure you have a advertising budget, nothing beats just getting your product out there like advertising. Just make sure not to advertise everywhere but focus your money and time on where the people you want to get are. Just my 2 cents anyway.

  • A great product with customer validation and built with a consumer development model is what makes a product a success!

  • Can’t agree more. Been there done that. Learnt this the hard way. I’m currently working on my fourth startups – We can change a Blogspot to a company website. Check us out.

  • Just starting the hustling process after going live yesterday. We’re now putting together a dev/marketing plan from our mvp. With the growth of Twitter, Tumblr and Quora… people have so many methods to which they can reach/market to their audience. We’re (UpOut) taking four major approaches to marketing our site out there… it does start with the product:

    1) Have user actions (drawing commitment) in the first 3 seconds of signing up (aka make them follow, or write, or whatever your service encourages them to do).
    2) Build in and encourage your users to share your site with their friends.
    3) Do your service manually by answering related questions on Quora, Twitter, Tumblr and FB. For us this means that whenever someone asks “What’s good to do in NYC?” we’ll be the first to respond.
    4) Build enough buzz to get some minor/major press from related blogs. Make your site SEOable.

  • PS: our site is if you’re wondering and we’re a new awesome city guide.

  • Don’t just go for online and social/new media, try networking events or cheap classified ads

  • Gd – get the answers to all your desired questions from our team of experts