What are some of the worst early stage mistakes you made while building your product?

Aaron O'Leary
21 replies
Mistakes are a great thing to learn from and early stage start-ups experience many of them. Some mistakes can be blessings in disguise. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts and of course possibly some crazy early startup stories


Hristo Zhelev (Itzo Games)
Worst mistake? It is weird, I do not see them as mistakes, can’t think of anything I regret, it all has been part of the journey. Sometimes life brings you challenges you did not wish for, but one should never give up :-)
Mitch Gillogly
@itzonator I don't think mistakes and regrets need to be mutually exclusive. I have no regrets but have made plenty of mistakes I don't wish to repeat.
Mitch Gillogly
@aaronoleary 1. Began working on our MVP and trying to include some ML, which none of us have experience in. What we learned: Build an MVP in your teams core competencies 2. We considered pivoting after running into some hiccups. What we learned: I should have kept my team focused on the task because it wasted a week and it was difficult to get everybody on the same page again. But we got so wrapped up in building the MVP a certain way that it was hard to get out of that perspective and approach it differently. So the week away from it gave me clearer perspective and a greater appreciation for what we're building. 3. Should've built a pitch deck early on when looking for technical co-founders. I was networking a lot but had no results until I presented my pitch deck to people. Also a lot of wasted time. Although these are mistakes I'll never make again, I'm grateful for the learning opportunities.
Mitch Gillogly
@rrhoover Any early stage mistakes you made that come to mind?
Ryan Hoover
@mitchgillogly one of the biggest mistakes many less seasoned entrepreneurs make is investing on micro optimizations in the early days. Many founders are perfectionists and pride themselves on building the "perfect" product. They spend too much time redesigning things or making small improvements when they should be focusing on big swings or a broader strategy.
Raghav Arora
@mitchgillogly @rrhoover I did that with an app I was working on in early 2017. I wanted to build something I would be proud of. Worked for more than 6 months, trying to optimise small bits of it. It seemed like a never ending process. I ultimately gave up and never launched the product.
Jen ✏️
Work on your business plan even if you're not pitching and it's just for yourself. It really helps narrow down what your main priorities, goals, and plans are for the next 1-5 years. I read the book "The 1-Page Business Plan" and it really helped clear some stuff up. Wish I'd done it earlier!
We made many mistakes along the way, and I can't believe why, but I am wiser now :) Here are few of them - Redesigning the whole UI to give way for new feature, where as, it could have been on top of old version, not perfect but not so bad. Delayed our launch by a month and a half. Working with external UI consultant with whom we were not comfortable sharing our core IP (code ). The integration with the core product took months which we anticipated just a week. Clear priorities on features, especially clarity on "revenue features" vs "big win features". Big wins only come when you solve a really hard problem. Rely on ML to give you edge over competition. It can take months to years to solve a problem. I think being aware of your decisions "All the time" and critically evaluate them every week is the key to not fall in trap. Say no to remote as much as possible.
agilan sivakumaran
I think my biggest mistake was not actually going for a true MVP and deploying that earlier, which would've led to attaining very key user feedback. Instead we waited for a more polished app before launching it, which delayed some useful user input which we believe are game changers.
Kavir Kaycee
1. Not getting enough early feedback into the product being built 2. Not setting up a distribution channel early on 3. Outsourcing tech on a project basis, early stage product needs to be iterative and fast
Raghav Arora
1. Over optimization 2. trying to cater to everyone without a strict target customer in mind
Jagan Ganti
1. A name that resembled a competing and established product. I did that so it's easier for people to immediately understand what we did. Instead, it made us look weak and as a clone product. In my defence, I was thinking zendesk-freshdesk. 2. I had zero development experience and "hired" someone to do the coding stuff. Didn't work and when they left, I had no clue on the tech. In retrospect, get a cofounder who codes the product.
@jagan123 Hmmmmm not sure on number 2 I think you can get a good MVP at affordable price if you have a clear wireframe & spec doc just my 2 cents.
Gonçalo Henriques
Not defining the MVP well enough. I tried to build a version of Pokémon go 3 years before the game came out. I had the team, investment, the idea and a lot of people interested but I could never settle for the features for the mvp. So I leaned a valuable lesson, focus, planning and compromise are more important features to me now.
Amrita S
I have been always passionate about music and live performances. With a friend of mine, started working on a social streaming platform built for live music performances. We took interviews with the musician and trying to figure out if they would be interested in using the product. Got 100+ musician. For our MVP, we spent a couple of months building the web app and trying to find a good product-market fit. While the app development was going smooth, little did we know that the nuances of music licensing was a much bigger issue than anticipated. We spent several months dealing with licensing negotiations in the LA music industry and trying to pitch at various events (Capital Music group in Universal Studio, gbeta music tech accelerators, Venture Hollywood, etc). Had the cash flow problem and we finally gave up. I learned a lot. I would say think more proactively, do research, think all possible roadblocks before you start something you are not fully aware.
Not talking to anyone before building, and imagining MVP features needed based on what I *thought* was crucial for the product, not what users were looking for. If you do this, you will create a mess for your future self.
Niko Wallner
to skip a discovery phase it was a fail
Sugandh Sharma
Some of the mistakes that we made while building our flagship product were: 1. Heavily bent on over-optimization 2. Lack of early feedback loop 3. Not focusing on a specific set of features for the first release We wasted tons of time in optimizing our Saas product for every small flow and feature. It got delayed for more than 2 months. When the product was released, it still had so many issues that we had to take it off the website for some time. We worked with our first client's feedback using !Qualaroo to optimize the product, which took another month or so. In fact, we had to do some customizations for him for free (out of courtesy), even adding the features that were not initially planned. It would have been better to release a decent MVP product with fixed features and functionalities. We could have incorporated an early feedback loop like surveys or feedback forms to take suggestions from the clients and improved the product. It was a great learning experience for future developments. Hope this helps.
Murali Gottumukkala
I believe there is no experience gained without mistakes, Mistakes actually teach you everything