Failures and success of product development — datarockets

First attempt — failure

On our team, we have a Trello board where we record our ideas of products and discuss them. It so happened one day someone created a card with an idea to implement a password storage that might be comfortable for teams to use. At that moment, there were a couple of similar apps for personal password management but no alternatives for teams.


In hindsight, we made a lot of mistakes. I see them now and would like to share with you, we paid a lot for this experience:

  1. What was the target audience? Developers? How many developers experienced the same issue with password management?
  2. Our CTO and I didn’t allocate enough time to participate and provide a feedback. We focused on client projects to earn money to invest in YAPS. There should always be a person on a project that has a clear vision of the product — a product owner. In our case, we didn’t have that person and it caused a lot of long discussions and no optimal decisions.

Our successful product development story

A year later, one of our skilled datarockers, Dima Chyrta, had two weeks between two projects and we decided to use this delay carefully to build something small and useful. We are big fans of a popular card game Munchkin. We know that this game has millions of fans all around the world. The game is really cool, but it’s hard to track player levels and strengths. We previously tracked that info on paper as the rest of Munchkin players. So we decided to create a simple app to resolve this issue — Munchkin Level Counter for Android.


This time, we knew much more than we did previously:

  1. The target audience was absolutely clear and we were sure that the app could be helpful for the Munchkin community.
  2. We had an absolutely clear vision on what the app should do. Every datarocker knew Munchkin game and might play the product owner role. In our case, Dima was the only developer and product owner, and as far as the app, it was very simple.
  3. There is a competitor app, but it costs five dollars. We decided that to compete we can build an app with a better user experience, and we don’t want to earn anything on this. We can make it free.
MLC user base stats
Munchkin Level Counter on Google Play
User feedback — Munchkin Level Counter

8 tips before starting a product development

I’m not going to say it is a big success story or that we have built something that can change the world. We created a small product which helps Munchkin players and we gained some small experience in our own product development. Here, I leave my notes, advice and a list of useful books that helped us.

  1. Define your exact target audience and think why your product could be interesting.
  2. Start with something simple. The MVP version of your product should be as light as possible.
  3. Be ready to allocate enough time. A product cannot exist without the product owner.
  4. Analyze your competitors. When competition is high, the product may require aggressive marketing efforts.
  5. Deliver a better user experience; do your best to fight your competitors. There are no silver bullets — if your product is shitty, nobody will use it anyway.
  6. Pay attention to user feedback. Answer users.
  7. If there is a possibility to make your product open source, or at least a part of it — do that. One day you will receive a pull request with a new feature or an improvement or a bug fix.



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