Thoughts On: A Product Doesn’t Equal A Business


I noticed this post by Jeffrey on Facebook and the discussion that came along with it. I absolutely agree that a product does not equal a business. In fact, it is — or it should be — common sense.

I have been building products, thousands of products for mobile over the past decade. Of course, it’s not just me. There is always a great team behind that! Yet, I have been building only a few businesses and one of those has failed so far.

“It’s easy to build products.” one person said. I do agree, it’s easy to build a product – any product. But it is hard — very hard — to build an outstanding kick ass product. Because without that, you won’t be able to build a business around that.

I am a true believer that a successful, sustainable, scalable and repeatable business can only survive with an outstanding product that is built to solve a very specific problem of its particular target audience. If solution that product provides, adds enough value to its users, which they are willing to pay for, then you are on the right path to build a business around that product.

Yes, there are many folks out there, who just keep building a product and another product and another product, and they never really build a proper business around that. While that might not be economically sustainable, I do have huge respect for them. There is a passion that drives them to create those products which they feel very strongly about. Eventually, it’s got to pay off, though. Otherwise, you’ll run out of money and you won’t be able to pay the rent anymore.

Swapit is a Product First, a Business Second

At least for now. While swapit is gaining more and more traction, it is completely free to use. We don’t charge any fees for posting items, nor do we take a cut out of the transaction when an item is sold. For the foreseeable future swapit will remain like that.

Again, building swapit into an outstanding product first, is our main priority right now. While this includes, of course, features coupled with our unique value proposition, it does mainly come down to building a liquid marketplace. If you have an outstanding product, but no one is using it, how will you be able to build a business with scale around that?

If you take a quick look at two giants in the IT space today: Google and Facebook. Both have started with their product first and for quite a long time, both of them didn’t have a clue on how to monetize their product and build a sustainable business around that. For both it eventually came down to advertising and they are both now advertising giants in the media space — so they practically turned into media companies disguised as hip tech companies.

When I look at swapit, I can see many angles we could monetize it — even with keeping our promise of free trades through the platform. In my eyes, the right path of monetization makes the difference in a successful business plan. While we are currently not focusing on that (we’re in marketplace liquidity building mode), we have some very interesting and potentially extremely profitable directions we could go towards with swapit. Only one of those directions are premium service, which we will be charging on top of our free service in swapit will provide enough added value to our user to activate them and turn them into paying customers. We are absolutely confident we are on the right track to complete our product roadmap and exit our public beta with premium services and a sustainable business model in place. That’s the point where a decade of experience in building apps and businesses comes into play 😉

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5 thoughts on “Thoughts On: A Product Doesn’t Equal A Business

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