Startup Weekend LA: Focusing On The Important Features Is The Key In Successful Product Development

It’s been a wind down mode from Startup Weekend LA. It was a very successful event: six projects got pretty close to out the door. I don’t know how many other projects are continuing their work, but the team I joined is exploring continuing our work. There will be more on that later.

One of the learning experiences from the event is having  only two and a half days of product development time makes you focus on two things:

  • Being innovative in ways in using the other team members to get work done
  • Focusing on features that are ¬†essential to getting the product out the door

Everything else was gravy.

We were lucky — we reused a framework from another site that we could use to build the idea. Most importantly we split up the tasks of what we had to do early on, and for a few of the features, we were able to delegate the work so no one person was absolutely getting killed. We had a small content editing tool and a primitive but effective framework so the other team members could add data to the site.

We focused on essential features by using a form of Scrum development: we listed all the features on yellow post-its on the wall. This allowed us the to prioritize based on need of the feature for a proof of concept demo. This is different than product development for a real product, because you can fake some things in a demo (like administration screens are totally unnecessary if you have PHP MySql Admin, and can access the database directly).

The result? By 2 p.m. Sunday, we were tired, but we had enough of a site that we could demo, and even more importantly, a site that we could eventually turn into a production product for a short amount of time until we migrated it to a real platform. That was actually one of the discussions that we had: preparing to launch a site that we all knew was completely throw away code, but something that could be migrated to a better architected platform.

What are your startup stories? How did you effectively get sites out the door while focusing on just the essentials?

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