8 Reasons I Failed, and You Can Succeed, to Build a Successful Software Business

I’ve always been an engineer, a tinkerer, a hacker.

When I was a kid, I would always get into trouble for tearing apart my toys to figure out how they could move or light up. I dove into coding at a very young age, and became a little hacker growing up in the 90’s during the days of the proto-internet.

My entire career has been focused on building complex systems and executing with ruthless efficiency. As CTO at my last company, I earned the nickname “The Executioner”, because of my relentless drive to Get. Shit. Done.

My engineering team was a finely-tuned, well-oiled machine. We hit our Sprint targets, leveraged best-practices and cutting-edge tools, and gave our product owners what they asked for on time and under budget.

But it wasn’t enough.

My cofounders and I had a vision that we all believed in. We experienced a problem in our lives that we couldn’t find a good solution for. We talked to some friends and found that they had the same problem too.

We dove in and started building the product that we had imagined, because we knew we needed to build something fast. In the beginning, we were full of excitement, and pulled many all-nighters cranking out code. We believed so strongly that we were onto something big.

We were going to change the world.

We worked tirelessly for months to build the first release. We invested our money and even raised some seed capital. We hired a team of developers and worked steadily down a long roadmap of features.

While we tested the app internally, we couldn’t bear to release it until we felt it was ready for prime time. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we released the product to the world.

And it fell flat.

We got a little bit of traction, but it was nothing like we anticipated. We struggled to get new users, even for free. We kept telling ourselves that if we just pushed that next big feature, it would be the turning point.

There is nothing more discouraging than giving everything you have to create something and have nobody adopt it. My engineers and I put in our best work, and yet the results were embarrassing.

We continued to work ourselves to the bone, burned through a ton of cash, raised debt financing, and were on the brink of total failure.

Then I had an epiphany.

I realized that no amount of engineering efficiency or high-quality code could make up for building a product that didn’t solve a real problem. There was something fundamentally wrong with the way we were designing our product. As an engineer,

I was so focused on what we were building and how, that I completely forgot about why we were building it. We didn’t understand who our customers were, what problems they struggled with most, or how we could help them achieve their goals.

I went searching for a solution.

I dove deeply into the world of product design. I read dozens of books and spent hundreds of hours watching lectures on product management, graphic design, human interaction design, and user experience.

What I discovered… 

Was that the most successful companies I studied shared some key characteristics:

  1. They understood their customers at a deep level.
  2. They crafted user experiences that helped their users achieve an important goal.
  3. They had a clearly defined mission that everyone in the organization subscribed to.
  4. Because they had built empathy and trust with their customers, they could tell a compelling story that resonated with their customers and convince them that their product was the one to buy.
  5. They did their market research, and didn’t invest enormous resources into building something until they were sure it would have product-market fit.
  6. They engaged with their customers on an ongoing basis, continually gathering feedback and testing out new ideas.
  7. They leveraged agile development principles across the entire organization, not just within the engineering teams.
  8. They gathered copious amounts of data and used it to make product decisions, instead of the opinions of a few key people.

I began developing a new model of product development. 

I combined the principles of User-Centered Design, Agile Development, and Growth Hacking into an end-to-end, unified model of product development.

With this model, we would engage the customer at every possible opportunity to ensure we were always building the right things at the right time.

We would run growth-hacking experiments on the product itself to validate new ideas quickly and cheaply before investing the time and money to fully build out features.

We would leverage the core agile development principles of reflection and continuous improvement across the entire organization, so that everyone in the company would be continually striving towards greatness.

That’s when things started to change.

I approached my cofounders and proposed that I take over the entire product development process, including product management, UX, and design. After overcoming some resistance, we agreed to give it a shot. While it took a little while for us to hit our stride, the team was invigorated with renewed purpose.

The results were transformational.

After a few short weeks, we started to see results we were looking for. Our customer feedback was helping us prioritize our work and develop more purposeful user experiences. Our data-driven product management process resulted in greater adoption, higher retention, reduced churn, and greatly increased revenue.

In one year, we doubled our revenue, then we doubled it again.

Now I’m taking the model that took me 15 years of experience, research, experimentation, iteration, and failure to develop, and I’m going to teach it to you in six weeks.

This is the Full Cycle Methodology™.

If you want to build a product people will love, quickly grow your business to 7, 8 or even 9 figures, and if you want to make a real impact in many people’s lives, my friend, you’ve come to the right place.

I present to you a challenge.

I’ve developed a six-week course to teach startup founders how to build a product people will love. I am going to put a ton of myself into this course for the first ten people who sign up this week.

For the first ten people, I’m going to provide a free, one-hour, 1 on 1 coaching session, six weekly group coaching webinars, a private Facebook accountability group, and unlimited access to me via email, all at a DEEP discount. After this week, I’m going to double the price.

Take a look at the course and see if it’s right for you. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at eric@fullcycleproduct.com.