Common pitfalls that most IT startups fall into

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by Dmitry Elisov
Oqtacore CTO
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In today’s world of modern technology, everything is changing and developing at a rapid pace. That’s why it’s so important to be part of something new. Mankind always comes up with innovations and ideas that make life easier in the best possible way. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, the number of IT startups has increased exponentially. This has changed the scale of funds that have been investing in such projects. Prior to 2021, global funding for startups did not exceed $100 billion in a single quarter. Funding in 2021 far exceeded that amount, with $135 billion in the first quarter, $159 billion in the second quarter, and $160 billion in the third quarter.

Some people see IT startups as a way to make money, while others see them as a dream to change the world with their idea or technology that can revolutionize most people’s lives.

What is an IT startup? 

In the ordinary understanding, an IT startup is a relatively recent IT company or business. IT startups are designed to solve problems through introduction of new product features and variations for users. Today, almost anyone can create an IT startup with just a couple of fresh concepts and a laptop. All you have to do is to carefully lead the startup to success: it could either be a major merger deal or, with patience and the right business skills, a large annual profit.

Main goals of an IT startup  

The primary goal of a IT startup founder is to differentiate between what already exists and what people need. It’s not difficult to think about what you would like to translate into reality. It’s much more difficult and more important to try to put yourself in the shoes of those for whom your idea is intended. 

  • What challenges do your potential customers face in their daily lives? What are their areas of interest?
  • How serious is the problem? Is it related to meeting primary needs like sleep and movement, or secondary needs like entertainment?
  • How often does the problem occur?
  • How are people dealing with the problem on their own at the moment? 
  • Are your users aware of their problem themselves or are they told about it by others?
  • Do the users make their own purchasing decisions or are they guided by someone else’s opinion?
  • How do they gain access to sources of information? 
  • What exactly do they lack in their daily life that would make them most satisfied? 

In 2021, any IT initiative can be implemented exclusively by programming experts. As a result, your idea will be implemented in the format of an App, DApp, website, blockchain protocol, or any other complex IT system. Many entrepreneurs have a viable idea, and they hire experienced developers somewhere on the sidelines. There is a certain trend that the more background in IT a founder has, the more complex his product comes out. An example of this is the founders of Twitch, the world’s leading video platform. Android- and IOS-based programs are quite easy to use; they provide all the tools to get the best results.

App development, as opposed to web or blockchain development, allows you to integrate already created functionality, which significantly reduces the time for developing a separate program code, because the app already has all the necessary tools. When developing apps, all the optional features of iOS and Android systems, such as push notifications, Google or Apple Pay, and much more, can be used as an addition.

The next most important goal is to test the product in the field. Most developers realize the importance of fully testing a product and getting feedback from users. The simplest mechanism for getting initial reactions is to test the original version among your friends, relatives, and acquaintances. But even after approval from your inner circle, it’s worth testing among your target audience before a public release. We should bear in mind here that the attention of your future customers has already been won by those products that have been tried and proved to be effective. So, IT startup founders find themselves in a vicious circle: the project can’t reach many users because they don’t yet have market confidence. 

Try to decide what options you can use to distribute free product trials among selected candidates:

  • Blog posts;
  • Updates in social media;
  • Newsletters to partners who have the same target audience as you, but not your competitors.

Doing so would allow you to see which of your product features are popular and which, on the contrary, are completely not in demand among your target audience. If you have a promoted personal brand, you can write a blog post about the main product concept and study the feedback. Creating an aggregator page for your product (a landing page, an Instagram account) would be a great idea. This may be enough to make a sales forecast.

Your goal during testing is to identify aspects of the product that are most useful to consumers. Subsequently, try to test regularly – the demand market is constantly changing, responding to people’s changing needs. Distributing a free version of a product is useful not only in building the portrait of the user and understanding his pains, but also in promoting the product. The more often it is mentioned in posts, the more people will be reached for a free trial of the initial version of the product. This can significantly boost sales in the future.

Most common challenges faced by IT startups and how to overcome them

Listed below are the major challenges entrepreneurs face when launching an IT startup, as well as ways to overcome them.

  • Uncertainty in successful implementation of the project

Creation of an IT startup requires confidence and the willingness to be in over your head. When embarking on something new, you must be willing to challenge yourself, you must not be afraid to develop your inner compass. Believing in your own business is an important factor that, like a navigator, will lead you to the best result. But don’t forget that success may not come immediately.

So many IT startups are never realized into a finished product because of excessive lack of confidence in the founder’s ability to successfully implement the project. A thorough analysis of the market will help you cope with uncertainty, thereby enabling you to understand in which area to start your development. If real analysis is not possible, maybe due to the novelty of the niche in question or for other reasons, you may want to opt for the old method of trial and error. Remember that innovation requires courage, and fear can be controlled and overcome. 

  • Finding skilled personnel

It’s nice to imagine a world where there are no disagreements, a world where you can easily find like-minded people. The truth is, many IT startup developers have a hard time when it comes to recruiting team members they can rely on to execute the project they have in mind. You’ll need developers, designers, financiers, market experts, and lawyers. Be prepared to be on the lookout for employees constantly and remember that developers are worth their weight in gold these days. The longer a project exists, the broader its team is.

Without experienced staff, it would be a herculean task promoting your brand and creating high-quality content. Apart from your personal experience and professional competence, you’ll need the inner flair that helps you organize the right approach in selecting your future team members. 

  • Managing your time

Careful planning of how and where you spend your time is the key to professional success. However, many IT startups still struggle with time management. In some cases, this is because the staff focuses too much on one task and neglects to address related issues. Don’t get hung up on one assignment; try to be realistic. Sometimes, this is down to lack of experience in managing a team or different departments. Inexperience wouldn’t allow for competent assessment of the time spent on each task. 

Many companies do training sessions on time planning to educate their employees by focusing on priority tasks. Also learn Scrum and Agile project management methods or hire a specialist. Proper time planning will help insulate your employees against emotional burnout. 

  • Building trust towards your product 

When introducing your product in the market for the first time, you may face some difficulties, such as gaining the trust of interested companies or ordinary consumers. With low brand awareness, potential customers may simply ignore you, opting for a product whose name is already popular in the market.

One possible way to address this challenge is to focus on marketing and sales, and work hard to build and spread the word about your brand. Expand your marketing teams and get your influencers on board. Your job is to convey the value of your product to future customers and build trust. 

  • Excessive perfectionism

When you have an idea that you truly believe in, you can recklessly succumb to infatuation. Ambition and innovation typically coexist in tandem; they’re a kind of catalyst for your IT startup. However, running after perfection can kill your project. Focusing on improving the product all the time, instead of attracting users to the current raw version of your product, puts you far away from success. Also, don’t focus on your own pains, think about the pains of your potential customers – they will be the ones paying for the product, not you.

Try to look at things realistically and relate your ideas to reality. Plucking a star from the sky is great, but first you need to look around and assess the situation soberly.

  • Competition

Some young companies may not be ready to compete in the marketplace. We advise you to prepare mentally for the fact that competition can be incredibly frustrating at times. Be prepared for hate, for negative comments, for low ratings, and for hacking attacks.

Try to convert the negative impact into an opportunity to learn from it: analyze your own failure and examine your competitors’ success. This approach would enable an IT startup to withstand the challenges and ultimately succeed. 

  • No differences from competitors 

Another factor worth paying attention to is your originality. If customers have no idea what makes your project unique, they are less likely to find reasons to come to you rather than to a competitor who has competently keyed in to them, and correctly pitched their idea and business proposal.

In the vast space of options, it’s important to maintain (and sometimes, protect) your individuality, which will allow you to connect with potential customers. If you mimic other projects, you risk losing your identity and therefore a certain layer of customers. Throughout the entire existence of your project, try to maintain a consistent style in design, operations, and information presentation. If problems arise, see a brand manager or PR expert.

  • Fear of being refused assistance 

It may sound cliché, but if you refuse to ask for help or advice when you need it, preferring to fight alone, it shows you’re inflexible and unwilling to face a different point of view. Launching IT startups involves solving new problems and gaining new experiences. It also trains you to work with other people. Asking for help from experts will not harm your competence and the reputation of your project; on the contrary, it will open up new perspectives for development.

  • Uncommunicative design

Getting the look and feel of your new product right is of utmost importance. Not only must you provide relevant information correctly, but you must also make sure that the presentation and delivery really resonate with users. Often there is so much information out there that competition now boils down to who presents the information better, as the user gets tired and is tempted to move on to something more pleasing to the eye. 

The best way to know if you’re on the right track in developing your visuals is to gather feedback from those who are already using your product. This process is standard across all industries. Approach this issue with full commitment, try to analyze what your customers pay attention to in the first place and how easy it is for them to interact with your product. The devil is in the details, so try to be attentive to the smallest demands of your target audience. Optimize your product usability with A/B testing, study how easy it is to use with the help of a customer journey map. If this is a problem for you, contact A/B testing and UX/UI design experts.

  •  Financial risk

Launching an IT startup has great potential for financial gain. However, it also brings along increased risks. Regardless of whether you fund your IT startup yourself or you use outside funding, the risk of loss or debt is almost inevitable. While there is no one-size-fits-all way to completely avoid financial risk, there are some best practices for dealing with it.

Try to do the following calculations:

  • Project the actual amount you will need to cover all startup costs and force majeure, 
  • Make a list of goals that are achievable given the amount you have available right now. 

The next step is to find and secure the necessary funding for your startup to enable you launch it successfully and keep it on track with the plan you’ve created.

Tips for aspiring IT startup founders

  1. In order to successfully implement your project, you need to build trust and rapport not only with the target audience but also with the key team members. You will need to determine the appropriate ways to interact. Is it worth organizing and holding ad hoc conferences and meetings where you can provide up-to-date information and coordinate actions before the end of the product within the planned time frame, or plan all meetings in advance? When getting started on a project, try to hold at least a few meetings with key team members. A well-planned meeting with the team at the start of an IT project will undoubtedly boost development and provide support in the future. 
  2. Try not to put off tasks that can be done now till later.
  3. Don’t avoid criticizing your product. Remember that good and bad comments give an incentive to develop and improve the product, both in terms of functionality and technical characteristics, and in terms of aesthetics and usability of the interface. 
  4. Don’t forget that any project requires not only accurate knowledge by you, but also the ability to improvise at the right time. 
  5. Don’t hire so many people at the initial stages of development. This would likely lead quickly to unnecessary spending. IT projects can be created by fairly small teams, and this will not prevent you from succeeding on the global stage. An important rule when having a small team is multi-tasking and multi expert team members.
  6. Your product design should be appealing. 
  7. Don’t stop looking for new opportunities and niches to implement your IT startup. 
  8. Your team is a living organism, whose main goal is to find a variety of niches for the project and its promotion. You should motivate your team members and treat them with respect.
  9. Learn to work in a team since it is easier to find all the pitfalls jointly with experts.
  10. Examine the decision-making process of customers and investors and capture key insights. Through this process, you may discover hidden weaknesses and strengths in your product, and you will understand whether you can expect to receive the necessary financial support in the form of investments. You are also more likely to determine the level of potential demand for your product at its current stage of development.

 

Examples of successful IT startups 

Almost all the most successful IT startups did not come to success at once! Only by overcoming all the pitfalls did the projects manage to reach a global level. We have prepared for you a list of stories about several of today’s biggest IT startups. Each of them started with the most ordinary idea, and just look at the incredible results they’ve achieved! 

  • Instagram

The amazing story of two young people who created an app from scratch in just eight weeks. A Stanford University graduate named Kevin Systrom, who has worked at Gmail and Google’s corporate development divisions, spent his off-hours developing a location-based photo and note-sharing app. The first prototype of the app was called Burbn.

Kevin would later meet Mike Krieger, who would become one of Burbn’s earliest users and co-founder of Instagram. Burbn was renamed Instagram and was only used for posting photos and videos. 

  • Pinterest

Growing up in a family of medical doctors, Ben Silbermann assumed he would follow in his parents’ footsteps. While studying at Yale University in 1999, the young man realized quite early on that he was not going to devote his life to medicine. After a few years at Google, he had a radical new idea.

So, in 2009, together with his college friends Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp, Ben started working extensively on an online resource, where people could post a selection of images and objects of interest to them in an interactive pinboard format.

In order to establish a personal connection, the founder wrote messages to the first seven thousand users in which he mentioned his personal cell phone number. During Thanksgiving dinner, Ben’s girlfriend suggested an original name for his project: Pinterest.

  • Linkedin

In the second half of 2002, Reed Hoffman invited former colleagues from SocialNet and PayPal to join his team to develop an innovative idea. In May 2003, Reed had already presented a LinkedIn demo from his room, inviting 350 of his buddies to become members of his community and create personal profiles in it.

At first, only 20 new members joined the new professional social networking site every day. But by the fall of 2003, the project had shown quite real prospects, attracting investments from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

  • Facebook (Meta)

Mark Zuckerberg, a 19-year-old sophomore Harvard student, started his own social-networking site for students inside Harvard University.

Once the site became popular among students, it immediately spread its influence to other institutions. Starting in 2004, Zuckerberg moved his operating base to Palo Alto, California, and attracted his first capital investment from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Mark Zuckerberg’s success story is perhaps the most famous in the world of IT startups.

 

Conclusions 

IT startups today are the most popular topics in the world of information technology today. Many entrepreneurs and developers are thinking about creating their own promising project, which will revive the market and bring them high popularity together with huge profits. 

You can be the founder of the next unicorn startup in the IT market. It is not difficult nowadays, when more and more people are having better access to the Internet and development technologies are becoming increasingly accessible. Of course, there are a lot of barriers and obstacles on the way, from finding a competent team to supporting the project after the market launch. Analyze the market, use trial and error, try things out and you will succeed. 

 

You can also take a shortcut, like the founders of Twitch, and benefit from the expertise of startup-building experts. Oqtacore has broad expertise in launching and supporting IT projects.  

 

In case you decide to do the launch yourself, no problem; exercise some patience. Once you are familiar with the structure of an IT startup, try to be as vigilant as possible and weigh everything carefully before you finally decide to launch your own startup.

You may have to work through your own doubts beforehand and overpower your own indecision. Forget the rush! Dedicate yourself to researching the market you are interested in and focus on making personal contacts. Choose your business partners with utmost care and be prepared to change direction more than once. Be curious and open to new ideas and concepts. We wish you the best of luck in achieving all of your goals!

Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I start working with OQTACORE?

We have a call and discuss details of the project

You make an initial payment for the project

Our CTO and your assigned Project Manager write the specification documents for the project

We discuss and approve the specs with you

We compile the specs into a development schedule

We implement the specs with releases every two weeks

How much does MVP cost?

It depends on the package you choose. Feel free to explore each package with prices and examples on our landing page or use our calculator.

How much time is take to build an MVP?

Prototype – 10 days

MVP for one platform (Android/iOS/Web) – 1-3 months

MVP for three platform (Android/iOS/Web) – 3-6 months

Do you sign an NDA?

We sign an NDA with each customer. All the source code and intellectual property will belong to you.

Who will I communicate with during the project?

You will have 24/7 access to PM Saveliy Leniivin and CTO Dmitry Elisov, who will guide your project from start to finish.

What are the team’s working hours?

We work on weekdays Pacific Standard Time (PST), UTC -8. 8am – 11pm. This schedule allows us to communicate with you and to do the work as efficiently as possible, regardless of the time zone difference.

How can I control the project?

You will have access to Jira (it is a project management software used by many companies in the world), where we will manage your entire project. There, you will see each task and its due date.

Is it possible to add/remove features after the project has started and specification and implementation plan have been approved?

Yes, it is possible. We will create an additional specification, in which we will write down the additional features you want to introduce, and we will add them to the UI design and development plan.

What will I get as the end result?

A ready-to-use application that can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play or used as a web app + all copyright for the code + documentation.

Can I come and visit your office?

You can visit us any time!

Are you a team of just 7?

Our core MVP team consists of seven people: CTO, IT PM, Designer, Backend software developer, Frontend software developer, QA tester. This is an example of our team that will interact with you during the creation of your MVP. As the app develops and expands, other members will join the team.

Apart from developing MVPs from scratch, we have a team that is engaged in maintaining current projects and scaling them. For one of our customers, we have assembled and manage a team of 23 programmers who are continuing to develop our customer’s successful startup right now.

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