9 common pitfalls of web startups and how to avoid them

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Within six years, Jordanian web and mobile development company Spring, which was co-founded by serial entrepreneur Razan Khatib and Ahmad Humeid of Syntax, has served over 40 brands, launching over 40 websites in the process.

While dealing with startups, Spring noticed several challenges that they were facing with product development, and decided to compile them into a new document that reveals lessons learned.

“Our main goal is to help educate our clients, specially startups in their initial stages, to better re-think their ideas and strategies,” says Khatib, who wrote the document with the help of her team.

This PDF (downloadable in the grey box to the right) offers a list of problems as well as solutions to these challenges:

  1. Never-ending product development. Startups should avoid excessive feature development and view this process as an ongoing, long term one, for the sake of experiencing, testing and gathering feedback. Beta testing phases, soft openings and pre launch stages are good strategies to apply.

  2. Ignoring the competition. Being aware of all sorts of competitive products or services is crucial. Regional and global competitors should not be underestimated; even if geographically far, they can steal your potential audience quickly.

  3. Overdoing stealth mode. Secrecy around a new idea should not last more than a few months. Once the team is built and proof of concept cleared up, buzz should start being created around your idea.

  4. Under/over-valuing technical development. Don’t spend too much time deciding on your technical platform.As commercial brands are expensive, open source solutions are an option to seriously consider. They are flexible, efficient and free in the first stages, in addition to providing access to a wide developers community.

  5. Undervaluing content, and over dependency on user generated content. A content strategy is essential in the case of startups depending on user generated content. Testing and noting feedback for different scenarios can help a lot in content planning.

  6. Build-it-and-they-will-come mentality. Ideas rarely attract users on the fly after launch. User acquisition strategies and tactics are crucial from day one.

  7. I’ll figure how to make money later. Business models should not be disregarded. Entrepreneurs should research different opportunities to monetize from the initial stages as well.

  8. Arabic first, or English? or both? Go local for your target market as there is no use creating the first version in English if your audience primarily think and speaks in Arabic.

  9. Thinking tech and design, and forgetting operations. It is very important to answer questions like who should you work with, how many customer service agents should you hire, who will manage your product development with early users?

Has your startup overcome one of these challenges?

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