Top Tips for a Product Sprint

We sat down virtually with a group of the amazing Product Mentors who helped to facilitate our week 4 Product Sprint for our #SYD20 program, and asked them to give us their top tips for a successful product sprint and here is what they had to say…

Sarah Kirkby, Product & Team coach at Product Space

“The goal of a product sprint is to quickly prove or disprove an idea and before jumping into a testing session, my top tip would be just to stop and think about what is it that you’re trying to learn here? This will really help you focus your questions on what you want to ask the user.”

Cheryl Gledhill, Head of Product at Zip Co Limited

“My top tip for running a Product Sprint is to have a clear sprint goal of exactly what you want to achieve. So figure out what is the one thing that we want to prove and be able to have something that within a couple of days you can actually prove. This may mean you need to pull together paper prototypes, or you do something in code, as well as, having clear success metrics of what you want to get out of it.”

Benjamin Wirtz, Co-Founder of Aurelius Health

“Sprints are all about focus and where a lot of people go wrong when thinking about products is that they think products are about building things, when it’s zero about building and all about changing something. Whether it’s customer behaviour or business metrics. So I think it’s important to go into a sprint knowing where you want to be when you come out of it, what do you want to have changed or what change do you want to prove for the business or the customer. Then everything becomes a lot more focused and you just need to do all of the things that are necessary to create that change.”

Ben Reid, Founder & Chief Officer at Digital Creators

“A big part of a successful digital product sprint is replicating the visualisation part of an in-person product sprint. While we’re doing a lot of things through video calls, we all know the power in testing of a visualisation against just words and so whether it comes down to even just thinking about what problem it is we’re trying to solve or early sketching ideas, or if we’re also looking at getting peoples feedback on it rapidly, any and every way to make the sprint feel like more of a whiteboard exercise is hugely beneficial. This visualisations allows creativity and also when we are able to see things visually we’re able to connect dots that we wouldn’t have otherwise. One of the benefits of doing this digitally is that you do end up with a whole bunch of artefacts already created for you rather than post-it notes and whiteboards that you then have to go back and turn into artefacts afterwards.”

Alan Jones, Entrepreneur in Residence at Remarkable

“One really important principle for a product sprint is that what we learn from users or potential customers is much more valuable to us in planning what we should do with our product, if the user or test subject genuinely believes there’s an opportunity to pay you something. Now we don’t have to wire up Paypal to actually collect a payment from somebody but if we give them a button to click that makes them feel like the next step in the process is the transaction part of it, then you’ll see much more realistic behaviour from people. The fact that they’re being offered a chance to pay for something encourages them to narrow down the number of features they’re prepared to use, and encourages them to be really specific about what they do and don’t want and makes them feel like they’re in less of a hypothetical exercise and more like this is really a product that they might start using today. Prompting them to ask the question ‘do I or don’t I want to use that?’.”


Don’t let “doing things that don’t scale” trap you

The “Do things that don’t scale” mantra for early-stage startups has a flip side; don’t forget it.

The flip side is, “You must also pump enough new customers into the top of the funnel that doing things that don’t scale becomes your biggest problem”.

Otherwise, doing things that don’t scale might become something of a crutch; something you use as a reason to not try growing your customer numbers (sometimes consciously, more commonly unconsciously.)

Photo of a pressure gauge. Doing things that don't scale may keep the pressure low but it also may stop your startup growing. Photo by Crystal Kwok on Unsplash. Start paid marketing before you believe the product is finished, and probably before you think anybody in their right minds would be happy to pay.
Doing things that don’t scale may keep the pressure low but it also may stop your startup growing


But… but… what if we like this feeling of control?

I understand the feeling — while the only people using my product are people I’ve concierged onto my platform, while they’re all friends of mine or friends-of-friends, I feel like I have a lot of visibility. I feel like I can minimise the risk that they’ll be disappointed with the product and leave. I feel like I have control. I’m free to pursue my slow journey down the winding trail towards Product That Will Sell Itself Nirvana.

Which is fine if, in the end, you can make it all the way to Nirvana on your own. Something less than one per cent do, but maybe you’ll be The One. If you’re not, you’re going to need to persuade others to get involved, whether as early team members, advisors, investors, accelerators or incubators, or grant administrators.


OK, what do these others want to see from us?

They want to see early evidence of a growing business. The more months your early-stage startup bumps along near zero on the y-axis, (x-axis is labelled “Time”), the harder it’s going to be to prove you’re building a growing business. Your challenge is not to make runway last longer, it is to show growth within the available runway. To show signs that you might be able to get your wheels off the ground, and not stall once in the air.

To get anybody interested in your startup, you will need some metrics going up and to the right. In decreasing order of impact on others, those metrics are:

  1. Profit
  2. Market share
  3. Revenue
  4. Customers
  5. Waitlist customers who’ve paid a deposit
  6. Free trial customers
  7. Waitlist email addresses; and
  8. Inbound visitors.

Most of us will start at inbound visitors and waitlist email addresses and work back through that list towards profit.


But we don’t have much runway and don’t want to spend our money on marketing

The downside of paid acquisition (compared to those free, non-scaling channels) is that it costs money. It can subtract from your runway. The upside is that it scales way beyond your available concierge time, and when you get it right, and you acquire CAC<LTV customers, it extends your runway.

So you should start experimenting with:

  • Creative
  • Call to action
  • Positioning
  • Channel
  • Frequency
  • Retargeting
  • Pricing
  • Re-engagement


Now. Certainly before you believe the product is finished, and probably before you think anybody in their right minds would be happy to pay to use it.

This way hopefully you’ll ship a saleable product around the same time you finish learning how to market to customers.

One more thing

Don’t worry about losing the customers who sign up for the previous versions. If the internet is good at anything, it is finding more new customers.


Founder Profile | Ryan from Gecko Traxx

Pete (virtually) sat down with Ryan Tilley, Founder of Gecko Traxx last week to find out more about his product, what he aims to get out of the Remarkable 16-week accelerator program and his tips for setting yourself up for success when working from home.

Check out some of the key takeouts from this ‘on the couch’ session with Ryan…

Tell us about Gecko Traxx, how you came up with the idea? and what it is that you’re trying to achieve?

I’ve always just grown up with a love of getting outdoors, exploring and then in 2019 I experienced what it was like to be in a wheelchair for a few days and that helped me realise that I could be using my skills to help people that are experiencing disability to be able to go outdoors and do the things that I actually take for granted. So that sort of was the starting point of Gecko Traxx and really we’re trying to build an outdoor brand that allows everybody regardless of their ability to get outdoors.

What is it that you’re hoping to achieve through Remarkable and how do you want Remarkable to help you?

Coming into Remarkable we’d developed a number of prototypes of Gecko Traxx and we’d just purchased our first tooling. And at the moment, we’re actually just finalising the tooling and in a couple of weeks we are doing our first manufacturing run, which is quite exciting. So what we want to get out of Remarkable is really the commercialisation of the product, getting it out there and getting it into the hands of customers.

Are there any tips that you’d give people working remotely?

Something I’ve found that really helps me working remotely, especially how it sort of blended the work and life balance even more while working from home is setting each day up with a routine and keeping that. It gives me a bit more structure to the day and feels like you’ve achieved something before you even start. So for me that looks like, getting up doing so some sort of form of exercise, or a bit of meditation, a cold shower, then eating some breakfast and than I start work.

You can check out more about Gecko Traxx on their website and connect with Ryan on Linkedin.