Scratchpad's Pouyan Salehi on building a product with real demand

Patrick Campbell Mar 22 2022

Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.

This phrase has been passed down for eons. My interpretation of it is, essentially, if you want to be great at something, whether it is mentally, physically, or spiritually, you have to remember the fundamentals. On top of that, and more importantly, you must continue to practice these basic needs. If you want to be a great basketball player you need to always focus on footwork and handling. If you want to be a great artist, you need to focus on structure and consistency.

Nothing could be more applicable for B2B SaaS. In order to build a great business you have to focus on all the fundamentals of operating and executing. You need to effectively use capital, hire well, continue to book meetings, etc. You don’t just reach an MRR milestone and call it quits. Even if that checkpoint is acceptable for you, you have to continue practicing fundamentals in order to maintain at that level. It’s not as much of a checkpoint as it is a personal best.

Pouyan Salehi, CEO and Co-founder of Scratchpad, is an excellent representation of this practice. As a serial founder, Pouyan has done multiple tours of running and operating in B2B SaaS. He understands that before you reach company enlightenment you must chop wood and carry water. After you reach company enlightenment, you must chop wood and carry water.

 

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Here we summarize the main takeaways for you to implement or hand off to your team for implementation.

 

Key term

What is new product development?

New product development refers to a complete process involved in bringing an original product from concept or idea to market release and beyond. This may also include renewing or improving an existing product. 

Why is it important?

New product development is important for existing businesses to continue to grow. However, with the rapid evolution of technology customer needs are changing just as quickly, thereby making the development of new products essential in this day and age. The key purpose of product development is to deliver (or continue delivering) value to customers by providing solutions to their problems.

 

Action plan:

What to do today: 
  • Follow Pouyan Salehi.
  • Schedule a time to meet with your leadership and/or product development teams.

What to do next quarter:

Regardless of what stage your company is in, the first thing you should do is develop a strategy or framework for developing a new product or service. Having a strong strategy will help you turn an idea into a valuable and profitable product. It’ll also help reveal areas for improvement and determine which methods will be more effective for your process. 

But, before you think of building out your product, you must do the research to ensure there’s even a market for it. With almost half of startup businesses failing because there isn’t an actual need for what they’re selling, Pouyan suggests starting out by first listening to what customers actually need or the problems they’re experiencing and developing your product around that. This is crucial to ensure you actually build something of value that leads to success and not the contrary.

We’ve put together some key tips to keep top of mind when developing a new product and building out your strategy: 

 

  1. Do your research
    1. Talk to your customers: what do they need, want, or have a difficult time with.
    2. Assess the state of the market. What’s the problem? What products already exist? Is there a gap and can you do something about it?
  1. Analyze your research
    1. Analyze and segment all of the information gathered from above.
    2. It’s also important to understand when customers aren’t exactly clear about their needs. It’s important for you to distinguish between a solid need or problem and those that are unrealistic.
    3. Validate your idea.

  2. Build a compelling narrative
    1. Storytelling is powerful. More than ever, people are seeking connection with the brands they choose. As you begin to understand what your product will look like, begin developing your product story for your target audience. Your product story doesn’t have to be long and complex, but it should be heartfelt and easily expressed to your target audience.

  3. Hire the right people
    1. Hire people with experience. You may be inclined to hire more junior people to save some money, but junior people also lack experience that’ll end up costing you more down the line.
    2. If you lack experience in the product development process, hire a product manager early on.
  1.  
What to do within the next year:

Thoroughly review your product development strategy before finalizing and implementing it. As mentioned above, a strategy will help you reveal areas for improvement and determine which methods will be more effective for your process. Modify as needed depending on your research, and as always, once any strategy is implemented, it’s crucial to continuously monitor the output.

 
Who should own this? 

Your leadership and/or product teams (depending on your company).

 


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By Patrick Campbell

Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.

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