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A constellation model for product building
When feedback loops are long and treacherous, speed and clarity matter.
Building software (as compared to building an agency) has it’s unique challenges, one of which is that feedback loops are longer.
If you’re a service provider, you get feedback pretty instantly. You send in your deliverable, and the client either likes it or doesn’t. Either way, they give you feedback and you work on v2. Simple. Straightforward.
With software, this is absolutely not the case. You can spend months building something, only to share it with users who have either moved on or don’t care or both. There’s no way you can share unfinished software, the way you could share an essay outline and/or blurb with a client before writing the whole thing.
In other words, the concept to creation bridge is long, expensive, and unpredictable.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot as we build out Spectral. We’re bootstrapping currently, so the costs add up—real dinero, but also opportunity.
Our solution is to have a constellation approach. Let me explain.
Btw - the idea is to stress test these thoughts so we can all walk away with a better framework. I know there are a lot of experienced product builders on this list. I’d love to hear your feedback!
Step 1 - have an overarching thesis about how you see the world.
For us, it’s the following:
“Content is king. Thought leadership is crucial for professional success in any industry today”
We live in a world where Andrew Huberman gives philosophical advice, Jordan Peterson gives dietary advice, Sahil Bloom is our family therapist, and Chamath is our geopolitcal expert. This is not a moral judgement btw, I consume some of the same content. It is what it is.
Step 2 - you define specific problems and/or challenges that exist if you see the world is in fact how things are / will be.
For us, it’s the following
“when you're busy building the future, it's hard to find the time to share what you're doing.”
The sporadic nature of this newsletter is a clear illustration of how hard it can be to work in the real world, and then come back and create content about it. Also, I’m not even in the major leagues yet. Imagine what this problem looks like for busy founders, VCs, and executives.
Step 3 - ship fast, ship lean, validate, validate some more
Next, you ship minimum viable versions of products and services that address these problems, and validate them separately. 1 product launch per month is a challenging but realistic goal to set—depending on what you’re building, team size, resources, etc.
Step 4 - Rinse and repeat.
If your thesis is coherent enough, eventually (and inevitably) all these product experiments start to make sense as one cohesive offering.
So that’s essentially our plan.
What products and services does the Spectral constellation have currently?
Good question. Right now, we’re working on the following:
Our podcast producer [product]
Our podcasting editing agency [service]
A thought leadership API / task specific model [TBA / WIP] [product]
Our podcast product has ~90 users currently, and our first enterprise client - a podcast editing agency in Canada.
Our podcast agency has 4 clients, with a monthly revenue fluctuating between ~$3k to $5k.
I found a CTO that I really align with - Alvaro :)
We’re working on the following:
Fixing mission critical problems - authentication, payments, etc.
Revamping the UI. There are some incredible plug-and-play options out there!
Talking to users.
Fundraising. Find our deck here. (If you have fundraising experience, I’d love to get some feedback!)
We’re double clicking on mood music, trying to build a productized label.
We’ve Zapier’d the hell out of our processes, use Midjourney for album artwork, GPT4 for text copy, and are playing with some AI-powered creation / mixing / mastering products.
The incredible Pavel aka Pasha joined us as a cofounder a month or so ago. He’s a data wiz and is going to lead our marketing efforts. Some of you might remember him from this essay we wrote together in 2022.
We released our first EP last month, and our second one yesterday!
Imagine learning a new sport, but every time you make a mistake, you get punched in the face. Well, that’s surfing for you.
As a Kook myself, really enjoying the KookCast:
What I’m brewing
El Carmen blend from Q7th coffee for my milk-based drinks (don’t hate on blends!) Really trying to nail latte art - it’s incredible how fat % in milk affects texture and taste. Unsurprisingly, James Hoffman has a great breakdown here. My progress below:
Until next time,