Product-Customer Fit

In the odyssey of your startup, numerous factors will undoubtedly come into play. The list can be endless, and more than often, beyond inundating. It’s easy to be assailed with idle coffee meetings, vain pitches at meetups, foolish preparations for these pitches, despairingly gauging the fundraising climate, or naively worrying about extraneous factors that are just beyond your control.

Your time is limited. It’s vital for you to move swiftly, to test the riskiest assumptions you’re making, and compulsively validate whether your hypothesis even has legs. The best entrepreneurs have this uncanny ability to sift through the noise and discern for something I call the “limiting-factor” tasks. The term was inspired from my exposure to the hard-sciences in undergrad, and its definition can best be understood as the reactant in a chemical reaction that limits the amount of product that can be formed.

Within the chaotic, vast sphere of your startup, there will be certain undertakings that you just can’t move forward without, and they ultimately “limit” your ability to progress. These tasks are subjective and unique to each; it’s up to you to be due diligent. Competition is unforgiving in today’s brisk tech cycles, and you absolutely can’t afford for your team to work on something that no one will use, or on tasks that yield only marginal returns.

There is a popularized term in our industry that stems from the classic lean-startup school of thought called “Product-Market” fit. I personally think this term’s scope is a bit opaque, and prefer the word “Product-Customer” fit. I’ve opted for this because it places a substantial, dramatic focus on the only variable that truly matters — your customers.

The decisive limiting-factor is reaching this celestial destination of “Product-Customer” fit. If you’re not there, get there. You must ask the question– does this product I’m creating solve the problem of my customers? Do they like it? Even better, are they willing to pay for it? If not, you need to iterate on your product and fit it around your customers. Some of the best insight I can give is to get your customers involved as soon as possible.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”

Lovaash has two customers. First, we have Creatives. Some of the best painters, artisans, calligraphers, typographers, and cartographers from all over the world are creating Lovaash Online Stores by the hundreds every week in our private alpha. Second, we have consumers who own spaces— home-owners in the outskirts of cities, students with dorms, young professionals across San Francisco and Miami, owners of Italian to Korean restaurants, interior designers liable to enterprise clientele, and the list goes on.

My team and I are creating technology to solve the issues in selling the work of our Creatives through a SaaS (Software-as-Service) dashboard that manages transactions, real-time promotions, analytics, and more. And as a Consumer, you’ll be able to find exactly what you want through the lens of your personal space. The solution will be a 2-sided global marketplace with its foundation etched in inspiration, simplicity, and affordability.

Lovaash is where you “Enhance your Space”.

Lovaash Online Stores

We’re busy building our Lovaash Online Stores. Earlier this week, our Lead Developer Daud showed me the specs behind the stores, and I can say that what we’re building truly is exciting technology. You see, these stores are a direct result of talking to artists, understanding a problem, and assorting out an innovative, pragmatic solution. Our culture is special in the sense that our product is being designed by our customers and artists every step of the way.

Our definition of an artist is broad and wide. They include painters, photographers, calligraphers, digital artists, designers, craftsmen and more. These artists all have an exemplary dimension of creativity, and each and every single artist has their own unique and accessible place on the Lovaash platform. These stores are designed to handle all elements of business for an artist to allow for an adamant focus on the one thing they truly love– creating beautiful work. Lovaash manages all print-on-demand, drop-shipping, payments, visual analytics, and offers powerful SEO optimization by pushing items to the tops of all major search engines.

But this value isn’t what truly makes a Lovaash Online Store peerless. I want to take the time to discuss three introspective motivations as to why an artist should create a Lovaash Online Store:

A Unique Audience

Knowing your store’s audience is monumental. Enhance your Space. It’s our one thing. A Lovaash member is anyone who owns or manages a space. Our community consists of suburban home-owners, studio renters in cities, students in dorms, small businesses such as restaurants, and interior designers liable to a specific clientele. Each and every single member comes to Lovaash in hopes to solve one problem– how do I easily find something I love for my space? Your work, by nature, is the remedy to their problems. Etsy, Fine Art America, Red Bubble and ArtFire all have an annoyingly fragmented audience. All the home-owners we’ve talked to have no idea what Fine Art America even is, and your work loses its shine in the midst of t-shirts on Etsy. Your work on Lovaash will make more sales because of our unique and focused audience.

Inspire

Content is King. Each item on Lovaash has a 120 character-limit requisite of Inspiration in order to be listed. This is an opportunity for you as an artist to provide original content to the world. It can be anything: what made you create the piece, how it makes you feel, words you live by, or something random you thought of that very morning. As customers explore and discover items for their spaces, they’ll hover over your work with their mouses making way for a refreshing user experience in which your Inspiration is illuminated. Customers will have the ability to immediately share your work along with its respective Inspiration on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon. Your work will connect with and distribute much faster on Lovaash.

Promotions

Lovaash Online Stores are meant to be “Followed”. Choosing to follow a store gives a customer access to the most exclusive prices. Lovaash artists can create promotions in real-time for either the grand Lovaash marketplace, exclusively for their followers, or as individual pages that can be linked deep into their network. For example, an artist can create a flash sale by discounting their work for a specific time period; or perhaps a discount to the next 5 people who choose to buy a print of their work.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and some of our favorite features. If you’re interested in becoming a Lovaash artist, feel free to directly message me at ekram@lovaash.com.

– Ekram

A New Crest of E-Commerce

E-commerce is evolving. Over the past decade we’ve seen two real crests of e-commerce. In the beginning, commodities provided the initial spark. Jeff Bezos and co. perfected the art as Amazon began bringing products from titans like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Costco onto the uncharted frontier of the internet. Selection, speed, varying price-points and transparent payments were the hallmark consumer value propositions. The bigger the catalogs, the larger the inventory, the better it was. Jason Goldberg, CEO of Fab, calls this age Commodity Commerce. With every crest, there is a trough, but its important to remember that these lows have hidden gems buried within them– they tacitly signal the next trend, the next big opportunity.

There soon came a time where digital media increasingly became more ubiquitous. Youtube, Netflix, Google and Apple began pursuing original content in the form of books, movies, music and more. The archaic traditions of purchasing hard-covers, DVD’s, MP3 CD’s from your local mall venues were soon cast away. This idea of Digital Commerce broadened the purchasing lexicon of your typical consumer. It was an experience elated and unseen. This era shed fears of brandishing your credit card to online venues and encouraged people to experiment with their purchasing habits. Most began owning intangible products at a remarkable velocity, and soon companies like Dropbox began offering cloud computing as a consumer solution for the first time.

The third crest will be something that industry leaders are calling Emotional Commerce. We are on the fast-track to this destination. Every person brings with them a unique background, a distinct taste and an exclusive niche. Marketplaces online will truly be defined by the products they choose to house. These products need to be exciting, riveting, and touching. Ultimately, this means that brand power will be of the utmost importance. Companies should be very meticulous about their marketing strategies. First impressions are everything. Your curation will define you.

Furthermore, this entails a purchasing experience at the other end of the spectrum. Before, in the bland-commodity era, speed was the pursued ideal, encouraging customers to be in and out of online marketplaces. In this 3rd wave, your platform should do the exact opposite. You want your customers to stay and spend time on your platform. You want them to explore it and make personal, intimate connections with your products. These bonds will enrich the word-of–mouth marketing strategy behind your platform creating a respectable viral loop engineered into your customer segments.

I think the most important and thrilling opportunity lay with merchants. The unspoken truth is that the creators of products are the only ones that can truly lead this emotional connection with consumers. It is only natural to allow merchants to sell, distribute, and adhere to their respective networks better. This is the fundamental obligation  of any marketplace. Thus today’s marketplaces have a burning responsibility to offer an unmatchable trove of merchant tools through developing technology. Allow your merchants to drive up sales and traction to your platform with original, heart-felt content only they can provide. Give them credit. As creators, they rightfully deserve it.

This is exactly the plan for Lovaash. We are Empowering Artists.

Mayer Zahid