April 20th, 2020
As a bootstrapped founder, I have a close relationship with customers and people who try out my products.

They have a direct line with me, and when they have issues, they can message me. When they cancel, they tell me why. When they don't like something, they tell me.

One thing I've noticed is there's a specific type of customer that my business is not good serving. It's usually someone who has feedback about design, usability, and features compared to other tools.

Here are some examples:

  • "The setup interface required too many clicks"
  • "It doesn't work like my other tool"
  • "It's not as easy to use as I'd like it to be"
  • "It needs a dark mode"
  • "I will buy your product ONCE you have [INSERT NICHE FEATURE]"
  • "I'd like this to work like a relational database"
  • "I'm a developer, this would be really easy to implement."

Talking to customers and getting feedback is the cornerstone of building a great product, but this kind of feedback (while still valuable) may be a sign that it's not the right customer.

Sure, I can build an interface that requires fewer clicks, but that won't result in new customers, and for 95% of customers, clicking a couple of extra times is fine. It's not 100% ideal, but it gets the job done. The key is that my product solves a serious pain point for them.

When I started out, I took this kind of feedback really seriously, but over time I saw the same trend, customers who had this kind of "nitpicky" feedback tended to cancel anyways. Was it (1) the result of me not having a good enough product? Or (2) them not being the right customer? It's a bit of both, and when you have both, it will never work out, even if you improve things on the product side.

I think a common mistake we make as early founders is that we look at [INSERT BIG COMPANY IN YOUR SPACE] as having a shitty product and that we can easily build something better.

But as we build a company, we realize that:

  1. Better product =/= better design/UI/ease of use (i.e. Salesforce)
  2. Building a great product gets really hard, especially as you grow
  3. Almost all (big) companies have a shitty product

I still believe in building a great product, but as I've gone from software engineer to founder, my idea of a "great product" has started to evolve - and that's where I've had to make some tradeoffs.