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What is discovery phase of a start-up project and how to make it right?

Max Tsurbeliov
Max Tsurbeliov

Content Creator

April 19, 2022


What is discovery phase of a start-up project and how to make it right?

What is discovery phase of a start-up project and how to make it right?

Max Tsurbeliov
Max Tsurbeliov

Content Creator

April 19, 2022


What is discovery phase of a start-up project and how to make it right?

So you are ready to set off your start-up and earnestly committed to bringing your disruptive idea to life. Your energy is at the peak level and is ready to burst out into action. But what if someone would say that instead of diving headlong into building your product you need to keep cool and make an ultimate validation and planning of the whole project?

This preparatory step isn’t new for start-up projects and has a name - discovery phase. Some start-uppers tend to skip this stage of their start-up software development. Many of them believe that they have enough data and scope to embark on the project without a detailed and structured understanding of its specifications, market environment and TA expectations. 

However, skipping this planning and organizational landmark can be lethal for start-up projects. Even whales like Google failed because of the lack of the proper product discovery. For instance, the Google Glass project was a disaster because of the deem vision of the end users and necessity of the product on the market. The McKinsey survey shows the horrifying rates of start-up failures happening due to the absence of informed product development and market analysis. 

Why start-ups fail without a proper discovery phase. McKinsey

With that in mind, let's spot the light on the discovery phase of a start-up software development project and find out:

  • What the software product discovery phase is;
  • How you benefit from that process;
  • The main parts of the start-up product discovery phase.

Discovery phase in a nutshell

Discovery phase is the initial stage of the product development where you make a proper market and user research, run the budget numbers, set your goals, define the requirements, and put scope of work on your project roadmap.

The process is like a business cartography. You explore and map the market landscape, highlight your destination point, predict what obstacles lay in that direction, and pave the most rational way to your objectives. 

Ultimately, the discovery phase will allow you to see your start-up development process more clearly and define its feasibility, long-term viability, usability, and possible scaling scenarios. 

From the technical point of view, the start-up software development discovery phase should result in the system requirements specifications (SRS). This document brings clarity about core and secondary app features, key deliverables, and other precise data that can enhance the product development process.

Benefits of a start-up software discovery phase

There are several reasons to see the start-up discovery phase as one of the vital success factors of a project. All reasons revolve around vision, budget and time-to-market. These are the most relevant ones:

Determines product vision and goals

The most essential and obvious benefit of the start-up product discovery process. Making a detailed market examination, clarifying the image of your TA, and having a comprehensible definition of success increases chances that your product development efforts will bring the expected fruits. You can compare it with the actual sense of sight. For instance, when you have an impulse to get something in your room you look around for this thing and find it pretty quick if your eyesight is sharp. At the same time, if you are blindfolded or have low vision you can grab something you didn’t want to and bump into furniture.  

A project roadmap, the final product of a discovery phase, puts away all the uncertainties and creates the shared understanding of the product for you as well as the whole team. Detailed documentation with clear requirements and deadlines will help you to get rid of stress and be more productive. Thus, the discovery phase is like high resolution smart glasses that allow you to see your way in detail and even estimate the time/resources you will need to reach there. 

Reduce costs and increase RoI

The better your way is defined, the less unnecessary steps you make to reach it. And in the case of a start-up application development the confused moves are synonymous with the additional expenses. Therefore, a start-up project discovery saves your budget, giving you resources for other project essentials. 

Also, well-defined goals, objectives, and requirements allow you to create market-specific products that will pay off better. Instead of squandering time and money on the ad-hoc product adjustments you will invest them into more advanced features of your product or more experienced specialists.

Enhanced user experience

End user is the Northern star of the start-up product discovery phase. Understanding your TA’s needs and wishes is one of the main objectives of the whole stage. With the understanding of start-up trends, you are more likely to create features, designs, and functionalities that will spot on their aspirations. Your application will radiate what your clients want from every little detail so they will love it.

Anticipate risks

Having the sharp image of the path you are going to take, you will be able to uncover the hidden booby traps and avoid them. The booby traps here are the financial and production risks you’ll undertake during the project development process.  

Being aware of those risks enables you to reduce or eliminate them at all. For instance, you won't take chances with your product market fit and plan to develop an MVP to be a hundred percent sure that the product will be a success. 

How to conduct your start-up project discovery phase

Business analysis & Research 

Explore the market

Find a proper market branch for your product. Learn the peculiarities of the sphere and competition. You can even conduct a couple of surveys to support your market assumptions. It’s the core part of the research stage. 

Find your customer

Define your target audience, their needs, aspirations, and how your product fulfils them. The detailed image of your typical customer will allow you to make your product or service useful and popular. Get absolutely precise on what you offer them and if it’s something worth paying for. Learn from your competitors' mistakes, be attentive to the feedback on your idea or prototype, and try to get it as early as possible.

Having got to know your TA, find ways you can reach them. It can be social media or even newspaper ads. The choice of the communication channel will depend on your clients’ behavior and interests.

Communicate with stakeholders/investors

This is a crucial part of your preparations. Stakeholders and investors define resources you’ll take in the software development journey with you. Thus, before you set off, you should discuss your destination point, milestones, and the funding they are ready to provide on each stage. This will help you avoid any misunderstanding during the project.

Analyze the competition

Look at what your competitors do on the market right now and find out how your service is different from theirs. Strive to add something special to your service to draw the attention of their regulars and poach them.

Also, remember about influencers and critiques. If you enter the market space where there are several opinion leaders who review brand new products, it would be very useful to have them in mind while creating a product. Certainly, you shouldn’t build your service around such people. But making a few steps to impress them can win you much larger customers you will get without it. 

Requirements specifications

Well, on the previous stage you’ve made a business model. Now, it's time to discover the product requirements and objectives for the development process. The aim of this stage is to produce a product requirement document (PRD). The technical requirements will be a reflection of the deliverables from the previous stage. PRD will significantly facilitate the development process and increase the quality of code. With the clearly formulated app requirements, the developers will create precisely what you are expecting from them.

Prototype creation

At this stage of your software discovery you need to create a PoC (proof of concept) or an MVP (minimum viable product). The latter is not typical for the discovery phase because it requires some development efforts. It will be the final proof that your product idea can be technically realized and will help you to gather some initial feedback from users. 

If you want to take a pre-launch test of your MVP, you can attend specialized start-up events. There you can pitch your idea and demonstrate your product to the investors and potential partners. 

Detailed planning & roadmap

The last but not least stage of the discovery phase is roadmap creation. A detailed roadmap of your project will define a great deal of the project's success. Braking up the long and tedious project into small sprints towards the clear sub-goals will reduce emotional burnout in the team. Also, it will make iteasier to keep the right development pace and track your development progress.

You can see this document as a map to a treasure. A map that describes all the major steps you will go through, goals you need to achieve on each of them to proceed, and the time you need to pass through every roadblock to at the destination point on time.

Start your project discovery phase today

Are you ready to launch your own product discovery phase now? Then you are in the right place and time to do it. Akveo start-up software development company offers a discount or free project discovery and has all the resources to take full responsibility for building your application. We build web, mobile, and desktop apps of any complexity, using the top technologies and development platforms. 

Our own open-source products (UI Kitten, EVA design System) and unique start-up experience help us facilitate the project development and reduce your product’s time to market without sacrificing app’s quality. What’s more, we have a UX/UI design department, exceptional cloud services experts (AWS, Azure), project managers, QA & BA teams. Our team structures are flexible so you can hire a dedicated team or just some of the specialists you need to complete your team. Don’t hesitate and book a free consultation with our start-up expert, Eugene.

Start-up software discovery phase: all you need to know in 2022
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