What comes first – distribution or the product?
To most businesses, this isn’t even a question – there’s nothing to distribute without the product, so it comes first. But in the new era of lean startup, it’s something to ponder upon for those starting up today.
In the established, fast fading way of building startups, the distribution problem is generally tackled after the product-market fit has been achieved. The focus is on iterating the product based on customer feedback(?) till a P-M fit has been achieved, when you switch to focusing on distribution.
The problem with this approach is demonstrated by the thousands of untouched, unloved landing pages littering the Internet. How do you get valuable, and wide-based customer feedback on your MVP, if you have no distribution – no way of reaching a large number of users.
Low, and reducing, cost of developing MVPs means the battle line is shifting. It’s not as much about building the product right any more, as about getting the right product to the correct, target market. And while the cost of developing that MVP (whether a landing page or more full formed) is coming down fast, the cost of reaching a large number of relevant, interested users (to get the feedback from) is actually increasing due to the large number of MVPs seeking them out.