Bringing a Product to Market: An Interview with Park Capital…
Bringing a Product to Market: An Interview with Park Capital’s Alex Lopatine
Roman Dzvinka - February 18, 2021
We sat down with Mr. Lopatine recently to discuss his product development experience and get his insight on what it takes to launch a successful product. Here, he shares his advice for young founders and anyone else who hopes to bring their product idea to life.
Customertimes: Thanks for joining us! First of all, what can you tell us about your new product?
Alex Lopatine: Well, it’s a FinTech app. I have a long history in the banking and financial technology vertical, and this product is designed to help facilitate payments. We cannot disclose more at this stage.
CT: What was the motivation behind the app?
AL: Like with any viable product, it’s about seeing a need in the marketplace and then figuring out how to address it. I saw some things in my own personal experience and knew we could develop something that would alleviate those pain points.
CT: What were your initial steps?
AL: The first steps should always be to identify the idea and the MVP and then begin to think about sales strategy. We started thinking about and developing the concept several years ago.
CT: And how long has it taken you to develop it?
AL: No baby is born in less than nine months, right? Once we got started, the product was bigger than I initially thought, so it took about nine months to develop the MVP.
CT: From your perspective, what is the process of bringing a successful product to market?
AL: First you have to understand if you will need to raise funding or if you can start right away. Once that’s established, you can get to work on the MVP. Then you test it and start selling. Raise capital if you need to.
CT: What does your testing/feedback process look like?
AL: We always prefer to get feedback from potential users and clients rather than analysts. Get it into the user’s hands as soon as possible, and they will tell you what needs to be changed or added.
CT: What are your best practices for developing a new product?
AL: My advice is to get to the MVP as quickly as possible. Avoid the scope creep, where your idea starts out simply but grows and grows until it’s no longer realistic. Don’t try to develop everything at once – understand which features you need to go live and which ones can be added later.
CT: So don’t try to develop too much at first?
AL: Exactly. You want to develop features that will drive revenue, but you need users to drive revenue so you can build more features. If you’re launching without revenue, you either need to self-fund it or raise the capital. Raising capital is a distraction that keeps you from developing new products. If you can avoid the scope creep, you can get to the MVP without spending unnecessary time securing funding.
CT: Yes, we’ve seen quite a few product developers run into that situation. What about your team?
AL: I’m never in a rush to hire people, and I encourage young founders to do the same. Focus on building your product, and sell, sell, sell. Don’t hire people to do the process for you – build it, sell it, do it yourself. The rest is wasted time and money. Outsource when you need to (like for accounting, legal, etc.) and do the rest yourself.
CT: Let’s talk about launch for a minute. What is your product launch strategy?
AL: Don’t rush to go live big time. Test on a small audience first. Don’t start PR and social before it’s tried and tested. It could easily be a flop. And you will have to pivot fast. No one knows if a new idea will work. If you have an idea for something that meets a need in the market, then it’s all about the quality of your product and how you sell it.
If your product is something that didn’t exist before, you can’t be sure if people will like it or not. If you’re trying to improve on something that’s already out there, you need to see what was done incorrectly, then fix it and give it better packaging.
No matter what, I prefer to take a conservative approach and keep everything in stealth mode. I’m a firm believer in the 2nd and 3rd mover advantage – being second requires less capital, which leaves more time for development.
Let someone else be first. Then I’ll see what needs to be fixed, and I’ll come in with something better. I love to disrupt a market that’s dominated by legacy companies.
CT: So what did Customertimes bring to the table?
AL: I came to Customertimes with the specs to start developing, and they provided guidance and design. It was quite a good, no-hassle experience. They can offer product and project management also. Basically, they provided a turn-key, cost-efficient team with all the tools I needed.
CT: Is product development an example of something that could be outsourced?
AL: Yes, but with Customertimes I didn’t feel like we were outsourcing. I felt like they were part of our team – they were just there. With Customertimes, you’re paying for a service, but you get a whole dedicated team.
CT: Good to hear, and we appreciate your time today. One last question: What’s next for you?
AL: Right now, we’re working on the underlying infrastructure for our products. After the platform is built, we will start launching products one by one. That way we’re not paying for dev twice. We’re not here just to create one product – we are creating an ecosystem. Quietly.