J-Curve In Online Business Through Iterative Product Development

Your first product can do Ok for you but can’t create a substantial amount of money. Online business doesn’t work like this. Mostly the first iteration of the product will always fail.

Pinterest was begin something else, but over a period it evolved and changed into something else. Pinterest reached 250 billion active users in 8 years and here is the journey.

product management


Pinterest J-Curve

  • August 2008, company founder Paul Sciarra and Ben Silbermann quit their job in Radius Capital, and Google respectively and formed the new company Cold Brew Labs.
  • In 2009, Cold Brew Labs started working on the iPhone app had name Tote.
  • End of 2009, the Company has begun working on Pinterest.
  • March 2010, the first release of the product was given to relatives and family member for testing.
  • March 2012, Pinterest launched an iPhone app which was a great success.
  • August 2012, it was launched for the public along with an app for Android.
  • May 2014, they have added advertisement feature in search results for a sponsor.
  • August 2014. Pintrest has added a messaging feature.
  • August 2016, it was mentioned in 50 best websites by Time magazine.

J-Curve Of Pinterest is visible above. Source: https://www.comscore.com/

Instagram J-Curve

Burbn was the first app from Instagram. Instagram got their J-curve by emphasizing on the feature called photo and video sharing. It had so many features in starting, but when a company start monitoring their app through analytics, they realised that people were using mostly one feature belongs to photo and video sharing, they emphasised on it and Instagram has started becoming popular.

We now come to know by analysing the history of Pinterest that Rome can’t build in a day. It requires a series of step followed by many ups and downs. It is vital that in the product development we get input from customers or end users, it may change the product direction. I realised when I studied some of the start-ups, they become something else than what they suppose to be.

“your first version of product will never be your final product.”

  • YouTube initially was a dating website.
  • flicker started as a role-playing game and changed into something else.
  • flicker started as a role-playing game and changed into mobile and video hosting website.
  • The first time Facebook was introduced as a website called facemash. This website was all about competition between two girls who are more hotter. It was all about comparing two person’s face side by side. Problem with this product was one person would be happy at the cost of second person defeat. Afterwards, Zuckerberg realises that it is not right to have a dislike button and you can see there is no dislike button on Facebook.
  • Amazon first launched as an online video, audio and book store. Now they are selling almost everything. There Amazon web services (AWS) are selling like hot cake.
  • Shopify was founded in 2004 as an online store to sell snowboarding equipment as the owner of the company was dissatisfied with other available e-commerce product in the market. The company launched there product Shopify in 2006 for the end user.
  • The founder of twitter releases the first software Odeo which was an online podcasting website where the user can create and share the podcast. Odeo didn’t run well, and the company’s founder has started new product twitter which was a great success.

Original Business Plan Is Just Guide To Start Product Development.

The possibility is very less that you are going to stick with your original product plan since market conditions are volatile. As you get new learning and experience while working on a unique product you may bound to change product plan or the product itself. The agile rule works here, inspect your current project on a regular interval, adapt the changes on the basis of user input. If we create a new website and doesn’t update with adding/modifying and removing new features, the site won’t last.

“User Input Is Most Important Feedback To Improve The Product.”

New Business model should not scale-up until it is performing well.

Here what I am talking about not only work with internet business but offline business too. Large companies are rarely going for innovation; they usually stay in there comfort zone. Start-up usually do more innovation comapre to well established business.

The startup has started from silicon valley and spread around the world. If you are young developers or senior developers, I would suggest you work in a startup at least once in your lifetime; you would learn 500% more than any other IT-based service company.


New Product companies may lose their enthusiasm, focus and energy when it doesn’t convert well.

  • Companies usually shift there focus when they see some more significant opportunity in product development elsewhere.
  • Some companies cheat there customers or investors by showing wrong information.
  • Some companies quit in the middle of phase even when they have a more substantial possibility. I am talking about service based companies who have started any venture to scale up their business and interestingly they want to see the result from the first day after the first launch. They don’t know success is a series of baby steps, with each level we need to inspect what we did and adopt changes in our product/business plan.
  • In this world 80-20 rule has the most critical factor. You have limited resource, and you have some goals for your product. You should be aware of it what functionality which take 20% effort will give you 80% result. You should invest your time and energy on those areas which will provide maximum effect. Don’t put your resources to create additional reports if it is not useful for business.
  • Most of the companies don’t prefer to work from home, but this is a good idea to have it. This way they can get good software engineer easily irrespective of company location. I am not telling about freelancer but the full-time remote employee.
  • Better technology doesn’t mean a better product. I have seen in some of the companies; the Technology team has taken the product-related decision. Technology team can’t understand customer’s emotion or pain. They can only think about technology and always eager to learn a new one.
  • Sometimes Developers give wrong advice to higher management because of there inclination towards specific tools or technology. Only those product can be successful which can solve customer’s problem or give them new opportunity to interact (social network), able to learn (online learning website), save time or money (online investment) etc.
  • Action on Customer feedback is significant. If it is not happening, you can’t grow.
  • Selling the product at a very low price.
  • It is advisable not to launch your product at different platforms such as apple or android at the intial stage. First test your product at one platform, take the feedback from the client. Create a business case for your product afterwards you can scale-up on different plateform.

Developer’s Problem In Online Product Development

  • If developers have plenty of time to develop. They become biased related to technology selection for the sake of there own learning.
  • Reasonable time should be available for the development team to produce the product; otherwise they will take short cut and software will not be manageable in the long run, and you may need to create from scratch.

Management Problem In Online Product Development

Perfection and procrastination:

A business owner may want perfection in their product with the first release. I am not talking about releasing the product with bugs instead release the bug-free minimal viable product. It will save us our time to launch the product in minimum time. We can also improve the product using the feedback from the customer, and we can release the next version by incorporating the changes given by customer along with new features and functionality suggested by management or product manager.

Love With Original Idea:

Business loves their business idea. Not only love, but I can also say they obsessed with their idea. The original Business idea should be flexible and can be altered or changed from customer’s feedback or market condition. After 5-7 iteration, the original idea may be inappropriate.

Juggling between Business Model And Product Scalability:

Online product/website takes time to evolve. Website product can’t give you revenue from day one. Google is the best example of this. Google makes most of the money from advertisement. In 2000, Google launched its first monetisation platform google AdWords. Google.com was registered at September 15, 1997. If we consider its domain registration date, they wait for approx three years for monetisation. PC Magazine announced Google as the top search engine. Four months after winning this award, they made their first nontech recruitment Kordestani in May 1999 while Google search was publicly available at 1998 who reached the position of Senior Vice President for Worldwide Sales and Field Operations.

Scaling the business without having a revenue model:

Scalability is only relevant when the organisation solve more customer’s problem or different customer problem and business earn from the customer if they provide a solution to the customer. If a company doesn’t have a business model in place, it is not advisable to scale the business no matter how lucrative the idea you are implementing how much money is flowing from the investor.

The dot com bubble was a significant example of the scalability issue. Most of the Investors invested a massive amount of money in .com companies without digging deep into their business model as stock value of that dotcom was overvalued due to the recent introduction of internet and PC which was now becoming the household item for most of US families.

10 Steps to create a successful product:

  • Market study is most important before going to any product idea.
  • Collect the data and try to understand the pain point of the customer.
  • You should try to get the data of your competitor’s product satisfaction.
  • Create a product to target the customer pain point.
  • It is not necessary that your product is unique, but it should serve the customer better way in the competitive space.
  • Create minimal viable product and take the input from the customer.
  • Iterate the product until the customer satisfied.
  • Create a business case about your product.
  • From the business case, create a business model for revenue generation.
  • Repeats all the point mentioned above to create variation and services of same product.

Horizontal scaling of your product and services by adding more relevant business.

Create a related product/service which enables organisation for more user engagement and sales. For example, if you are in the recruitment business, it is a good idea to scale up the company in the online education industry.

“Rule of thumb is more interaction with customer causes more sales, no matter what platform we are using.”

Recruitment business is maybe a single time event for candidates, You will get more chance for conversion if people are more engaging at your website.

Right Product + Right Business Model = Revenue

Right Product + Right Business Model + More Engagement = More Revenue

Right Product + Right Business Model + Unlimited Engagement = Unlimited Revenue

Do not scale business until your existing business model starts performing well:

Geographical scaling: Scale the business on different location or territory. The best part of digital product and services is that it can quickly scale up.

Addition of Related Product and Services: The relevant product and service are perfect to start. People will not leave the website and go somewhere if they get related product and services. Some related product can help each other to grow. In marketing, we call cross sale. Amazon reported 35 per cent of its sales is the cross sale. Some examples are:

  • job portal integrated with the online learning system.
  • Selling Speakers with AV Receiver.
  • Selling Pepsi with pizza.
  • Smartphone insurance with a new smartphone.

New Product Idea:

Market Need:

Software as a service is now trending. Most of the open sources application now shifting to SAAS based product. Companies are also preferring to use these kinds of product to use. These products are easy to use. Shopify, wordpress.com and Wix come under these categories.

  • Project Management Problem: Trello, Asana and Jira.
  • You can’t imagine the web without the search engine. No Matter how many websites available on the internet, It is challenging to get relevant information without the search engine.
  • Online Cab Booking: Uber, Ola is an example of this kind of product. These companies are selling their product as a platform.

Product First Demand Second:

It is not always necessary, Market has any need for the product you are thinking about, but still, you can create it. Apple iPod is a good example for us. The company produces a unique product first then the demand was created.

Product Based On Visionary Idea:

This kind of product was not a demand for the market or people, but when they launch, they become more than people’s need in a simple word “Desire”. iPhone comes under this category.

There is no rule for product idea and its success, and you never whether product will success or fail. The percentage of assurance of your product will increase when you launch the product, take the feedback from customer/end user and iterate the same again.

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