It’s a conundrum every tech entrepreneur faces: Bringing technology to market takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money, but few people are willing to give entrepreneurs money until they’ve brought their technology to market. So how does a startup address this catch-22, keeping enough cash on hand to pay developers until it’s ready to launch its product and raise some real capital?
If you’re an entrepreneur creating an enterprise tech product, approaching your launch from a do-it-for-me (DIFM) standpoint is the best way to go.
Bridging the Gap With DIFM
In the early stages of planning our company, we knew it would take at least a year for our product to hit the market. So in the interim, we marketed ourselves as consultants for brands who were interested in what our product would eventually enable them to do. Then, down the road, we were able to go back to the folks who hired us as consultants and offer them exactly what they needed.
“Do it for me” might sound like a one-sided affair, but it’s really a two-way street. Companies benefit from your tutelage and perspective, and you gain crucial face time with your target clientele. Listen closely during these discussions — they’ll provide insight into what your future clients hope your product does.
Here are the three biggest benefits of a DIFM approach:
- Timely Revenue: DIFM allows you to get paid in the near term to do something your technology won’t be able to do for quite some time. Leveraging your idea, knowledge, and passion for what you plan to create will allow you to earn valuable capital while you wait. My company’s DIFM approach raised a substantial chunk of revenue that helped us keep the lights on.
- Crucial Feedback: When you develop and hone your creation as you collect feedback from potential consumers, you’re getting a huge leg up over those who design with an idealized, inaccurate, or approximated end user in mind. Even better, by doing much of the work for your customers directly — using your technology for tasks they will eventually do themselves — you effectively become your customer. This removes guesswork from the development process and allows for your prototype to be much closer to perfect.
- A Head Start: Once your product is doing the things you and your staff have been doing previously, you will find yourself with a lot more free time. And because you have already been soliciting consumer feedback throughout the development process, you’re able to focus that time and energy on extending the value of what you built. Whether this means adding a premium tier of service, creating new features, or expanding your reach to new markets, you’re able to hit the ground running rather than retrace your footsteps.
DIFM immerses you in the target market you plan to impact, and when you have your finger on its pulse while you build, you eliminate the risk of being out of touch once you surface from your creative vacuum.
DIFM in Action
Uber is a product that is both literally and conceptually DIFM. It’s literally DIFM because someone is doing the driving for a person who is paying for that service. But in the spirit of what I’ve described above, Uber is also conceptually DIFM because CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick has clearly stated that his ultimate goal is to have Uber’s fleet be completely comprised of driverless cars. In the meantime, between now and when that market vision can become a reality, Uber is using human drivers as a stand-in to earn capital, prove its concept, and literally buy itself time.
Uber knows that its big idea will never come to fruition if the company sits in a windowless room and waits for autonomous driving technology to evolve. Instead, it’s making heaps of money, collecting mountains of data, and creating eager anticipation for its finished product.
Savvy tech entrepreneurs need to follow this model. Don’t waste time waiting for the world to be ready for your product; get out there today, and prepare the world for what you plan to do.
Image credit: CC by Bashar Al-Ba’noon