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How To Successfully Bring Your Product Or Service To Market With Daniel Shaddock [Episode 98]

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Do you know how to successfully bring your product or service to market?

In this bonus episode of CEO Sales Strategies, Doug C. Brown speaks with Daniel Shaddock, the CEO and co-founder of Liquid Instruments. Doug and Daniel discuss strategies for bringing your product to market, the mindset of running a startup, navigating the different stages of growth, and much more.

 

In this episode you will learn:

 

Episode’s guest – Daniel Shaddock

CSS 98 | Bring Product To Market

Daniel Shaddock is the CEO of Liquid Instruments and a professor of physics at The Australian National University. He also served as a Director’s Fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a Fellow at the American Physical Society, where his publications have been cited over 20,000 times. His research focuses on precision measurements using advanced digital signal processing. At Liquid Instruments, Daniel is pioneering the move from a physical, hard-wired approach to testing and measurement towards a computer-based system that uses intelligent software.

Visit his website: www.liquidinstruments.com

transcript

How To Successfully Bring Your Product Or Service To Market With Daniel Shaddock

I’m bringing you another great guest. His name is Mr. Daniel Shaddock. He is the CEO of Liquid Instruments. They are a technology-based type company. We are going to talk about how to bring something to market. Whether it’s a product or service, how to do it the right way and how to not do it the wrong way. He has had lots of great success in doing so. He’s a super smart guy. He’s from Australia. You’re going to enjoy this. Let’s talk to him about that.

What we’re going to talk about is how you are going to take that product not only to market but through the different stages, when a product is growing, when it’s time to add another product, or when it’s not. Also, how you are going to scale that process up to bring your company to the next level again and again. Without further ado, let’s speak with Mr. Daniel Shaddock.

Daniel, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being here.

It’s nice to be here. Thank you.

You are the head of Liquid Instruments.

That’s right. I’m the CEO and one of the co-founders.

What does Liquid Instruments do, just so people can understand?

Liquid Instruments has nothing to do with liquid. We make reconfigurable test and measurement equipment. The name liquid is supposed to give a connotation of the fluidity of our technology. Test and measurement equipment is the type of equipment that scientists and engineers use to research, develop new products, and test-manufacture those new products. It underpins many large areas of technology. Pretty much anybody who uses electronics would be familiar with this type of equipment,

That is great for this audience because sometimes people are like, “I know about that. They won’t know about this.” That’s a wonderful thing. Let’s talk about mistakes that people are making when using technology or bringing a product to market. Why do they fail? Why do they succeed? When they’re using technology and they want to bring a product to market, why doesn’t it work out?

New technology is tough. If it’s genuinely new, it tends to grow out of some fundamental R&D and that is inherently unpredictable. It’s not until you get quite late in the game that commercialization becomes a solid option. Maybe a goal in the early days is we want to bring these things to the world and share our research or discoveries with the world. Once we do that, we would also like for our team who are working on that to get paid. That’s the necessity of commercialization. My background is I’m a Professor of Physics at the Australian National University. I’ve also worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California for many years. There are very different stages of technology and there are very different types of goals in commercializing the products of our research.

One of the things that is at the most challenging end is fundamental research and a genuinely new breakthrough. These could be very game-changing in the long term, but there tend to be a lot of barriers to getting that to the point where it is commercial-ready. It’s a long road. There are lots of potholes in that road, and lots of potential wrong one-way and dead-end streets. It’s very difficult to predict whether it’s commercializable or not until it’s quite late in the game.

On the other hand, there are a lot of things that you can take out of those types of research and commercialize them. They tend to be not the research itself necessarily but the tools that people have developed to do that research. Liquid Instruments is probably a good example of that. We needed to make a new type of instrument for a space mission or a satellite mission called GRACE Follow-On. To make that measurement work, we had to build the technology. We had to launch it into space. It has to be robust, reliable, and high-performance. A lot of those characteristics are also valuable in the commercial world.

For us, it was a little bit easier because the Technology Readiness Level or the TR Level was already very high because we were not commercializing the science. We were commercializing the tool that we used to do that science. It was already operational and only a couple of short hops to be able to be commercialized. Selecting carefully the scale of the challenge is important. Understanding the scale of the challenge of commercializing genuinely new technologies is important. Also, to be your toughest critic at the time when you make that decision to do it. You look at it critically and think not just about what could go right but also about what could go wrong in a situation.

CSS 98 | Bring Product To Market
Bring Product To Market: It’s important to be your toughest critic when commercializing new technologies, to look at it critically and think not what could go right, but also what could go wrong.

 

Are we talking about burn rate and basically looking at how long we can carry this?

It’s a little bit about the burn rate. It’s a little bit about little things that have worked. To start talking about the fundamentals of science, the way science works is that a lot of the most influential work in science has been published in peer review journals. When you publish something like that, it’s probably something that you got to work on that one time at 3:00 AM in the lab and you had that breakthrough. Getting it to work that one time and proving how it works is the breakthrough.

Rather than getting it to work that one time under a very specific set of conditions, out in the real world, it has to work 99.999% of the time under a whole range of conditions. That’s a very big set of challenges to get from one to the other. It’s talking about technology maturity, how to assess that technology maturity, and how to assess those risks in technology to get it from a TRL 4 or 5 to a TRL 6 or 9 at the end of the day. Certainly, time is one of those things, so make sure you’re adequately funded. There is an inherent risk and uncertainty in different stages of the technology pipeline.

For those companies who are in a technology business, bringing a new product to market sounds very similar. Regardless of whether it’s technology or not, you’re going to have some inherent risk in there. We got to look at the scale of the challenge. I think those were your words. We got to look at the burn rate and then ask the question, “Does this make sense?” Is that accurate?

That’s right. One thing that experienced managers understand is you can plan everything, but things are probably not going to go that way. Holding contingency is an important concept and there are standard rules for how much contingency you should hold. That depends upon the inherent risk. I would say that everything is different. The better you’re able to assess those risks, the better you’re able to plan for contingencies for when things don’t go well.

It’s fairly common that things don’t go as well as you would like or as you have planned. Unfortunately, it’s far less common that things go a lot better and a lot more easily than you have planned. You have to make sure that you have that bias built into your planning and waiting. That goes into every aspect of the business. It’s controlling the burn rate but still having the ambition to be able to attract the funding to pursue those plans.

When I was growing up, I had a mentor who was much older than me. He was much more experienced in the business. I’m reminded of a young him at the time. I used to go to his office and sit there. I was in awe because he had 300-something employees on the floor and a big staff and a nice office. I once asked him this question about planning. He said to me, “Son, you better plan for three times longer than you figure and it’s going to cost you 2 to 3 times more than you figure. That is normal.”

That’s pretty true. There’s another way to deal with that. If you have the most ambitious plans, you know your plan A, and then you have a plan B, a plan C, and a plan D. Maybe you don’t spend a lot of time on developing your plan E and F, but it’s good to have them in your back pocket. You can adjust as things come in because there is so much uncertainty from so many dimensions of the business in the early stage.

One of the important things about controlling the costs and controlling the burn rate is to make sure that you’re doing the things that are the most important now for where the business is today. That doesn’t mean don’t focus on anything long-term, but don’t put the cart before the horse in many ways. A lot of mistakes that I see early-stage startups and commercialization activities make is they put in place a lot of things that they know they want to have eventually.

One of the important things about controlling the costs and controlling the burn rate is to ensure you're doing the things that are the most important for where the business is now. Click To Tweet

They think it’s great to get all those things on board early. Often, those things that you have in later stages are quite costly and don’t add a lot of value. Being able to focus on the right thing for the time of your company and also the right thing for your company is very different potentially from what other companies need.

I tend not to follow general rules very much. I used to say that Liquid Instruments is different from any other company. I realized that was a stupid thing to say because every company is different from every other company. It is important that you can take that context for your situation. Timing is probably the most important thing. We’ve made many mistakes in terms of hiring where we’ve simply hired people who the company is not ready to leverage expertise to the fullest extent.

They are more strategic maybe than they needed to be at the stage that the company was. Our chairman said to me, “These people are navigating the plane but we’re still sitting on the runway.” It’s getting the people on board with almost a just-in-time approach to have the skillset that you need when you need the skillset. It’s almost always in the early days.

I’m a big proponent of focusing on the product. The product is something that you want to get to market. If the product is a great fit for your customer’s needs, then everything becomes easier. Focus on the things that you need to do to get your product to be not just as good as the industry standard but you should be aiming to be different and clearly the best in your category to successfully break into that market.

Something that has served us well over the years is we do have a very product-centric founding team. One of the big advantages of that is that the team were users of these types of products themselves. They know what’s great and what’s frustrating about it. It’s incredibly valuable to have that insight into the leaders of the product development team. They can feel what’s right and wrong almost intrinsically without having to go out and do a lot of market research.

We’re speaking with Mr. Daniel Shaddock. He is the CEO of Liquid Instruments. I love that you were a former NASA jet propulsion engineer. You’re the first NASA jet propulsion engineer I’ve ever had the pleasure to interview. You said a couple of points that are so invaluable for people to capture. I don’t want them to miss these points. You said that timing is critical and that we should know what’s the most important and where the business is right now.

Over my career, I have seen many people do this, including myself. We launched something new and we’re trying to build something bigger than we’re supposed to. We’re like, “I can make this enterprise-level software or I could do whatever.” We don’t even have our first client yet on the software.

We’re building all these bells and whistles into it, and burning money and time and all of this. I think what you said is that there’s a want-to-have, a should-have, and a must-have. What I’m hearing you say is we should focus on the must-haves at this place right at that time. When we get to the next place, then we focus on those must-haves as well. Is that accurate?

That’s right. I’ve heard this saying many times, “Running a startup is a marathon, not a sprint.” I get what they’re saying. It’s a long-term thing, but it’s more like running away from a mugger. That’s the way I look at it. You go fast in the beginning. You keep going fast because if that guy ever catches you, you’re toast. That’s what it is for a startup.

At different stages of the company’s growth, you have to do different things. There will be periods of intensity where you’re focused on one thing, and then you solve the next problem. The other thing that has been useful for me is some advice from my first boss at NASA. When I joined, I was fresh out of my PhD and I was moving a little bit into a new area. He started talking about this vacuum technology I have never worked with before.

I said, “I’ve never worked with this. I don’t know how to use it.” He said, “That’s okay. You’re an important part of it. There are people who want to continue to learn new things and there are people who want to keep doing the same stuff they’ve done. It makes them feel comfortable doing that and they are going to be the world’s experts in that thing. It’s people who try and learn new things all the time that when they look back at the end of their career, they’ll be surprised at how much they’ve achieved.”

I’ve always kept that with me. I always try to lean into learning new skills. One of the great things about startups is that the founding team gets to do a lot of the stuff themselves for the first time. One of our technical cofounders based in the U.S. switched and built our channel partner network worldwide. She built our sales organization and handles our legal. She has moved into growing her skillset in these new areas. I’ve taken on the complimentary set of tasks over here. What that means now is that as we’re growing from being the doers ourselves to the managers of those doers, we have inherent insight into the challenges that our staff is facing.

CSS 98 | Bring Product To Market
Bring Product To Market: As we’re growing from being the doers ourselves to the managers of those doers, we have inherent insight into the challenges that our staff is facing.

 

I love the opportunities that you get in growing a company. You get to do a whole bunch of stuff yourself to start with. You can bring in the experts, but your ability to effectively manage those experts and make them successful is greatly enhanced by the fact that you have already been exposed to these problems. You had solved some of these problems. You understand why some of the solutions maybe are designed the way they are. An important part of a founder’s journey is getting in, rolling up your sleeves, and doing these things yourself.

Don’t be afraid to hire people to help eventually. Your role then changes from being a doer to being a manager of those doers, and then eventually, a manager of managers of doers, which is a different skillset in itself. How do you help your team be effective managers and have that go all the way down the chain as the hierarchy or the layers of the organization grows?

There’s an art in delegating. You want to delegate the authority without delegating the responsibility. That’s a tough thing for people to learn. When you first start, you don’t want to give anything up. A lot of people are control freaks. They don’t want to give it up. When they do give it up, they overshoot. They’re like, “That’s not my problem anymore. This guy is handling it.” It’s finding that balance of helping them be successful and understanding you’re still responsible but you have doers. That is something that maybe everybody struggles with. I see it particularly with my engineering team, and I struggle with that transition myself.

There's an art in delegating. You want to delegate the authority without delegating the responsibility. Click To Tweet

It’s a human struggle. When we delegate it off, we’re like, “Thank goodness we don’t have to do this anymore. She’s got it,” or whatever.

The way to think about it is building capacity. I think that’s the right way. As the company grows or the company is a hundred times bigger than it was five years ago, you can’t work 100 times more hours in a day. That is often the way that founders handle growth in the early stages. They throw more hours at the problem.

What can I and my team do to build capacity in the organization? Maybe one day I want to take a vacation and know that the wheels will still be on the cart when I get back. If there is one statement or goal that I would tell people at that growth stage of the company, it’s this. When you’re making that transition from being the doer or from being even the captain-coach in many of your roles, think about building capacity in the organization and work towards that.

That is a wonderful way of looking at it. We look at it as we’re building in leverage at this point. We know we’re trying to leverage anyways, but if we don’t look at it as capacity, then what we will do as human beings is give it away and not have the responsibility anymore. I’ve always looked at it myself. I would love to get your feedback because I could be doing it incorrectly. I have learned this in recent years because sometimes when we hand stuff off and someone else is doing it, we think we’ve handed it off correctly and we don’t pay attention to it. We then find out it wasn’t done the way that we were hoping it to be done.

Now, I look at it more as if I’m going to hand this off. If I’m handing somebody a bank account that pretty much has free rein over my money, I want to look at it and say, “How is my money being managed?” Unfortunately, people do this with financial advisors at times. They hand it off and it doesn’t work. Is that a good way to look at it like, “I’m handing this off?”

That’s the right way. Ultimately, it’s a balance. You don’t want to be doing everything yourself, but you also want to make sure that it still needs to be done correctly and that you still have a part to play in helping that person to do it correctly. There are different levels of control that we have. My co-founder, Danielle Wuchenich, is based in the Bay Area and effectively runs the U.S. part of the organization. Even we have friction about who gets to delegate what.

I say to her sometimes, “I know you’ve got a lot on your plate. I’m happy to do this thing for you, but don’t get angry at me if you don’t do it the way that you would have done it.” She’s a real control freak and she says to me, “I don’t get angry because you don’t do it the way I do it. I get angry because you do it wrong.” I think, “It’s the same thing. It’s a judgment call.” She’s a fantastic manager.

It’s a struggle and it should be a struggle because it’s an important thing to get right. It’s always a balance and that balance is different depending on the characteristics of the individual, the scale of the problem, and the complexity of those problems. You have to monitor that. That’s something I learned the hard way with a couple of hard failures in my previous career in running projects.

A lot of times, people don’t want to fail. They’re like, “I can’t have it. Never.” They don’t take the risk and sometimes the reward is just around the corner of the risk.

It’s very strongly linked. If you push hard, you achieve more. If you want to stay in your comfort zone, then you know the reward is not necessarily going to be there.

If you push hard, you achieve more. If you want to stay in your comfort zone, then the reward is not necessarily going to be there. Click To Tweet

Are we going to take a risk anytime we grow, regardless?

I think so. The techniques for managing that risk are what it comes down to. Stay aggressive and set aggressive targets. If you slip and fall on the way, make sure you have plan B or plan C. The way I think about these things is I’m constantly and almost subconsciously having these backup plans, “We’re trying to hit this date. We need to hit this launch.”

I’ll give you a specific example. We’re a venture-funded startup. We were coming towards a Series-B campaign. We’ve decided in a fit of craziness that we were going to launch two entirely new products within a few months of each other a year before our runway ran out. That was a situation where it was a beta company situation on that. We had to launch a product and get it to market. There was an inherent risk in developing that product, scaling the manufacturing of that product, and showing traction for that product. Only then would we be a compelling investment case.

We decided to do two products instead of one. Two products increased not just the workload on the team but also increased the risk in the technology development for both products. It made both products less likely to get to market on time. When we did get to market, ideally they would have to be both a huge success, but if either one of those was a success, then we had a viable path to investment. Those are the types of strategies. It was trading off development risk against market traction risk in that case. It worked out for us. One of those products was a great success and it has driven the company forward.

The timing was important for us there. We started our funding round in Q4 of 2021 after launching the product in Q2 of 2021. Q4 of 2021 was the highest number of Series-Bs investments in possibly the history of the United States with $18 billion of funds put in. Six months later, that had dropped to nearly half and it’s about a quarter of that right now.

Other options would have been to reduce our burn rate, stretch out our runway, and raise in a less risky situation. That was an opportunity where we said, “We think we can hit this. We just need to stick to landing on these three things, and we’ll be going to a Series B.” By some luck, we got there. Now it’s a very different situation. If it had been six months later and we pumped the brakes a little bit and developed these sequentially, then we would have been in a lot of trouble. That’s one scenario where being ambitious in developing these two products mitigated a future risk for the company.

I hear a recurring theme coming through in your thought process. Whether you’re launching a product or you’re running your company, you’re looking at what I call strategic outcomes consistently. You always have a plan of mitigation, “If plan A doesn’t work, we got B, C, D, E, or F. We’re going to fall back on something.”

I don’t think a lot of business owners do this. I was watching a movie on the plane coming home from California. It was called Cinderella Man. It’s a great movie. It was about a real-life boxer. His name was James Braddock and what he did in the ‘20s. I think the movie Rocky looked at Braddock’s story and said, “Let’s recreate this.” Their promoter basically rolled everything into getting him his last fight. They sold all their furniture, apartment stuff, and everything, but they had no exit. If it didn’t work out then nothing else was going to happen.

I see a lot of business owners doing that. Every once in a while, it wins. We celebrate those wins in the public eye. The underdog won. However, there are a lot more people who don’t win and they don’t have contingency plans based on this. I love what you’re saying. It’s so important for a company to have a contingency plan. If we’re launching a product and it doesn’t work out the way they’re supposed to, what’s our next fallback position? It’s a great military strategy also. What’s the next fallback position of what we’re going to do? Am I hearing you correctly?

There’s a term that I heard to describe this. I worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab for a project, the LISA mission, that we are working on. This LISA mission is crazy. It pushes technology forward in so many different areas for decades. Now, the technology is well in hand and hopefully, someone will find the $3 billion we need to launch the thing.

The term they use then for developing these risky technologies was having off-ramps. We’ll shoot for this, and we’ll try and hit this thing. If we don’t, the things that we develop along the way, we’ll still be able to leverage and do something maybe not as good. Maybe we’ll have to add other things, so we’ll change the design of something else, but at least we’ll have a technology off-ramp that you can identify in advance to make sure you still get some value out of that.

This strategy, in general, is definitely something that I’ve seen other people do. I respect their management. They have brought large complex projects to fruition. It’s one of the reasons that investors invest in people necessarily more than the company or more than the product. They invest in people because it’s those strategic planning activities that are important that have become so inherent for experienced folks.

I wouldn’t count myself in that bundle. I’ve learned a lot from watching others and working with some great people. They say it’s important to learn from your own mistakes, but it’s much better to learn from the mistakes of others. It’s great to look around people who have done the types of things you’re trying to do and see what went well for them and what didn’t go well, and fold that into your own way of thinking.

They say it's important to learn from your own mistakes, but it's much better to learn from the mistakes of others. Click To Tweet

Back to your very early question about launching these products. We have three different hardware products out now in our Moku platform. We have fifteen different software pieces that run on those systems. There have been various levels of success over the years from one product to another, and how quickly they have taken off.

I’ve learned about how to build a product that lights up customers. Particularly when you’re a startup, you’ve got to put things into that product that people love. I think of these as tent poles for your product. There have to be 2, 3, or 4 things maybe that are spectacularly great that people think, “This is amazing, I’ve never seen this before.” If you have that for an early-stage company, people are willing to take that journey with you, and maybe overlook some of the holes that you have.

There’s a theory when you hire people. If you hire by committee, you tend to optimize for the absence of weaknesses. If you hire individually, you tend to be very impressed by strengths and optimize for strengths. It turns out optimizing for strengths is probably the way to go because you can always correct weaknesses but it’s very hard to vary compelling strengths from nothing.

CSS 98 | Bring Product To Market
Bring Product To Market: Optimizing for strengths is probably the way to go because you can always correct weaknesses, but it’s very hard to vary compelling strengths from nothing.

 

The same is true of a product. Focus on 2 or 3 things that are can be very differentiating about what you build, even if it’s at the expense of leaving a few holes in the product. Often, with these products being so software-driven now, they can fix that with the next software update. That’s the one thing I learned. When we launched the Moku:Go, it was the low-cost version of our platform. The thing that we did is that in the beginning, we forgot to make it awesome.

When we made our first product, we put all of our inspiration, blood, sweat, and tears into that product. It’s easy with the second part that’s going to roll out and assume it’ll be the same. Every product has to stand some 2 feet. A comment that I’ve made about the launch version is we forgot to make it awesome. Luckily, because it’s software-defined instrumentation for us, we’ve been able to pile on the awesome since then. That has been a great success. That’s my one piece of advice. Don’t forget to make it awesome.

We’re speaking with Mr. Daniel Shaddock. He is the CEO of Liquid Instruments. You had said something earlier. I wrote it down because I think this is so critical. It’s, “Know thy product. Be a product of the product.” It always ceases to amaze me that people do not become a product of their own product. I Illustrate it this way. I am looking for a new vehicle. I go and I take a few test drives of these very nice luxury-type cars. I say to the sales representative, “How does this work?” He goes, “I don’t know.” I said, “What about this option?” He goes, “I’m not sure.” I said, “Don’t you drive these cars?” He goes, “No, I don’t. I got a Dodge.”

This is not a Dodge company I’m looking at by any means. In my head, I went, “Why would I buy from someone who doesn’t believe enough in their own product to even consider driving one?” It wasn’t like maybe you couldn’t afford it or something like that. It’s possible, but why wouldn’t a dealership supply somebody with at least the opportunity to drive the vehicle?

We take that same analogy back to what you said, “Know thy product.” There’s a level of comfort and a huge amount of rapport built when the people are presenting the product to us as the consumer or the corporate buyer. We feel this inherent trust in their ability and their expertise in that case. I don’t know if you see it, Daniel, but I see it time and time again. Somebody works for an airline and they fly on a competing airline. I’m like, “Why?”

I love my job. I’ve had some great jobs in my career and some great bosses, but I’m enjoying this more. I think one of the reasons is that we make the product and then we didn’t start using it ourselves. We made something for us to use in our labs for our research and then we thought, “This is a powerful way of doing things. Wouldn’t it be great if we could share this with the world?”

There were a lot of people doing this thing. A lot of scientists would build it themselves. I remember thinking, “What a waste of humanity’s talents that were all building the same tool.” Everyone is hacking it together. It’s a terrible user interface and no one can use anyone else’s tool. Wouldn’t it be great if someone did it once, did it properly, and then shared it with the world? All those enormous brains can focus on pushing humanity’s knowledge forward, finding the next ultrasound imaging machine, or figuring out how to build the next microscope for medical breakthroughs.

That was the thing that I find inspiring about LI. We built it for ourselves first. We know it’s good and useful, and now it’s about sharing that with as many people as we can and learning about how they want to use it and how they want to evolve it. It’s not just credibility with the customers. It’s pervasive of the quality, all the way through the product, right to the bottom level. These are things that you wouldn’t see in a marketing brochure or a spec sheet. You wouldn’t notice it until you buy the product. That’s the ethos that you have of the developers of the product, being the users of the product and developing it for themselves. Turn that dial up a few notches on the love and attention that they give to making it a pervasively amazing experience.

That makes total sense because as we’re using it, we’re going to be like the actual user. We’re going to run into challenges or opportunities or something there. We’re going to go, “This would be cool because six people in my organization are saying the same thing. I need this.” We can go to market and say, “We’re thinking about this,” and then we can get the validation or whatever versus blindly building something out. I find that to be a far better way of doing things today. I like Steve Jobs as far as what he has done on this earth. I’ve found the “build it and they will come” mentality doesn’t usually work all that well, but it worked for him.

Daniel, I have two questions but one point because I want to be respectful of your time. When we start building a product out, I know you have contingencies, which is a highly intelligent thing to do. Has there ever been a time when you start out with product A and it always stayed product A? In most of my experience in business, we started off with something, and then it morphed into something else. It has gone from A to B and what we thought as A is not the prevalent thing. It’s B that takes off the market. How about you?

We’ve had both scenarios where we had products that we planned to be a certain way and they ended up going in a different direction. The best example of the other case where we said, “We’re going to do this thing. We think it will be great,” was our first product, which was enough of a success to launch the company. It’s called Moku Lab. It’s very rudimentary in many ways compared to our newer product. We have a lot more engineering talent, knowledge, and experience.

It was something where we said, “If we built this thing, we think people will love it.” There are two elements to it. There’s the technology side of things, but then there’s how the user experiences that product. There was a lot of opportunity there. We pretty much delivered on that without too many changes at all. Maybe one of the reasons was that we were users ourselves. We knew we have a technology that should work. We knew what would be useful for users like us in our segment. That helped me understand the endpoint of the product and the technology is quite mature. We think we had a short path to get there.

The second part was that we looked at other industries and saw these movements in industries. I think the iPhone is the first one where they weren’t the first people to make a smartphone. They weren’t the first people to make a smartphone without a keyboard, but they rethought every aspect of that experience to up the game. Now it’s unlikely that someone would go back to using a phone with a built-in keyboard. It’s not just those aspects. It’s all those aspects of the user experience.

That had rippled through many industries. At the stage we started Liquid Instruments, there was still that point where some industries hadn’t changed. They hadn’t caught on that there was a new way of doing things. Consumers, whether they be business users or private users, have devices and technology in their own lives. Their relationship with technology changed in a way that they expect more.

CSS 98 | Bring Product To Market
Bring Product To Market: Consumers, whether they be business users or private users, have devices and technology in their own lives. Their relationship with technology has changed in a way that they expect more.

 

They expect things to work, not to have to read a manual, and to be intuitive. That took a different amount of time to ripple down to different industries. Our industry was one, which still today is remarkably backwater in how we interact with technology. That is crazy because it’s the technology that builds technology. I’m quite surprised that it has taken so long. I think those are two aspects. One is that we understood the problem quite well and we understood the user base. Two, we were leveraging lessons learned from other industries to bring them there. It all came together beautifully.

With our next two products, we learned a lot as we’re developing them. The target users changed and a lot of things changed. We were expanding our addressable market out of our comfort zone, and out of our era of personal expertise for the founding team. Things did change and we had to roll with the punches and follow where the traction was going to be. Doubling down on your success is something that’s important. You don’t want to think, “This didn’t work out so I’m going to put more resources into the thing that’s not working out.” You have to be quite disciplined and say, “That’s not working out. This thing is working out though. Let’s be investing here because that’s where we see the real growth for the company in the future.”

Doubling down on success. I love that point. As we talked before about shiny object syndrome, they start getting all over. It’s doubling down on that success, bringing that to the next level, and then figuring out the next level to double down on is a critical component. Daniel, I’m sure people have gone, “This guy is amazingly brilliant. How do I know more about either the company or him? How do I get ahold of them?” Where do they go?

The first thing to do is come check out our website and have a look at some of the things that we make. Anyone who is a product developer of anything that has electronics inside it will immediately understand what we’re trying to do. Check out our website at LiquidInstruments.com and have a look. Reach out anytime. I’m pretty available on the internet. It’s pretty easy to find me. We would be happy to chat with people who have suggestions for me or questions about the mistakes and good decisions that we’ve made.

Thank you for being here. Folks, I highly recommend you check out the website. I was doing that prior to our interview and I was like, “This is cool.” One of the few things on there, I was like, “Wow.” Thanks again for being here, Daniel. I appreciate you being on the show.

Thanks. I enjoyed it. Have a good one.

Here’s the thing, when you bring a product to market, put 2 to 4 things that people love about the product in the initial rollout of the product. Why? It keeps their attention. These things that they love, try to make them the must-haves. In other words, if you can take those things that they love and anchor those with the must-haves in the product or your service, then people are going to be very happy and they’re going to stay with you long-term to the rough spots.

In other words, when you do bring something out. It goes through generation after generation. If you think through Windows with Microsoft, there were a couple of versions that came out. They were like, “Yikes,” but people stayed with it because there were enough things they loved about the particular operating system to stay with it.

We talked about what people must have, what people should have, and what people want to have. In the beginning, you might want to stay away from the should haves and the things we want people to have because it’s all about the market. They’re going to tell you exactly what they want. I made this mistake myself. We completely overbuilt the process thinking, “They will want this.” It gets to market and they didn’t want that. You spent time, energy, and money. You’ve shortened your burn rate on being able to continue the process.

Remember, it’s always about client acquisition. Give them what they love, give them what they must have, and put that in the initiation. Remember, product A usually never stays product A. It becomes product B, and then product C. Product A becomes version 1, version 2, version 3, and things will morph over time.

The number two point that he had that’s very important is to know thy own product. If you are not a person who is consuming your own product or service, think about this. How are you supposed to know how to improve it? The market might be telling you something intuitively where you’re using the product, you might be saying, “That makes sense or that does not make sense.” That is key in the process.

When people know that you are a product of the product, and you’re using your product, there’s far more rapport built there. There’s far more dedication from your client base. When you’re building out a product or service, have a contingency plan. Plan A isn’t going to work out what is plan B, plan C, plan D, and so on? That is similar in some cases to cross-selling, upselling, and down-selling in the world of sales. We want to have these contingencies or these strategic outcomes.

Those strategic outcomes are if this doesn’t work, what will work next? If that doesn’t work, what will work next? You always must have those in so you don’t get caught short. When you’re growing your company, think about building in the capacity as you’re outsourcing. That was a great point. If we think about capacity, we will give what we need to give and we will hold onto what we need to hold onto, but we won’t hold on too tight. We’ll manage the process appropriately.

If you love the subject matter and you would like to hear more on a specific subject matter, reach out to us at YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com. If you want to be a 1% earner or you know companies and people who want to be 1% earners, reach out to us or reach out to me directly at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com.

We are releasing a 1% University coming out in 2023. If you would like to be on the waiting list for that, let us know. As always, go out and sell something today. Sell a lot of it. Sell it and play win. If you win, they win. That’s how you develop long-term relationships, multiple referrals, and very happy days because your customers are happy and you’re happy. Until next time, thanks for tuning in. If you love this, please give it a five-star review. Tell other people and spread the word because the more people we have, the more people we can help. Again, to your success.

 

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