Start-ups Should Build Lousy Products

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I hate poorly-crafted products. They are buggy, hard to use, and generally a big pain in the ass. But every now and then, I use a lousy product despite all its shortcomings. If the product solves for a pressing need I have, I'm more than willing to put up with all the hassle. Early Twitter and Facebook are canonical examples of such products, as is all the beta software I'm using on my computer. On the other hand, a well-crafted product is a pleasure to use, it's reliable, and works as expected. But if such product isn't solving for a real need I have, it will end up in a trash can in no time despite all its polish. It takes just some hard work and some talented people to fix shortcomings of a poorly-crafted product and to make it accessible to public beyond early adopters. On the other hand, it's impossible to fix a product that isn't solving a real customer need regardless of the amount of lipstick used. Start-ups should therefore avoid temptation of spending their time polishing the product, but should instead put their rough prototype in the hands of the user. If at least some users will be crazy enough to use the shit you've produced, you know you are on something big and that it's worth your time and talent developing the product further.