Many entrepreneurs want to know how to strategically design their product. In an effort to answer this question the TechTribe Community together with {type}DEV hosted a masterclass titled ‘Strategic Product Design’. The masterclass was conducted by Yi Yu (Bruce) Liu, a business and software developer and Senior Digital Strategist at {type}Dev.

There are about 137 000 start-ups that are created every single day. Now the question is how many of the 137 000 succeed, and how many of them fail?

120 000 businesses a day fail every day, leaving only 14% of start-ups to grow in the market.

Key Points from the Masterclass

What is the strategy to their success, and what are the pitfalls?

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” -Sun Tzu

Start-ups that would delve into new technologies, imagining potential ideas and what the product could do. They would talk about how great it could be, but at the end of the day, nothing was done.

That is regarded as noise preceding defeat, which is why having a strategy is essential.


Strategy: Where you are heading towards?

Tactics: How to get there as quickly as you can?

Basics of Designing a Product

We will examine Strategy, Problem and Requirements, and Design. Receiving the requirements and then coming up with a design will be the basic process of developing this design. There are other aspects to the process, such as strategy and tactics. We begin with a strategy to help classify decision-making at the outset of the process. This puts you in a good frame of mind to understand what the client wants. The tactics will be introduced between the requirement and design stages to determine how we can achieve our goals more quickly.

Implementation of Ideas

So you think you’ve come up with a game-changing idea? It is now time to consider how we can put it into action. Even though the downside is reality, it can be harsh and change what you thought was a good idea.

The guidelines for strategy

  1. Product validation
  2. Problem Identification
  3. Strategic Decision Making

Bruce emphasized the importance of prioritizing product validation as the first strategy guideline; his reasoning was that knowing how to validate your product was necessary in order to make sound decisions.

Product Validation

How do you evaluate if you have a good product?

First, we’ll look at the lean start-up methodology that every start-up utilizes, as well as the cyclical design that pervades large organizations.

  1. Learn: Understand what the market wants as well as what your customers want. Then figure out how to quantify it. How do we qualify or quantify what they want so that we can build the product and test it in the market?
  2. Measure
  3. Bold

The lean methodology discusses creating a minimum viable product.

“Minimal product: the fewest features that provide the most value to your customers just to see if they like it.”


How do we validate our product?

The Diffusion of Innovation Theory

People who are innovative and ahead of the curve would not consider things that are not on the market. Innovators are more likely to try out unusual ideas.

That equates to 13.5% of your target audience. Only 16% of the audience believes you have an innovation.

Early adopters are people who would quickly follow the innovators or what the innovators are adopting to see if it is feasible.

When a certain number of people adopt your product, the next segment of your target audience or target market will do so as well, which is your early majority, followed by your late majority.

To have a better chance of crossing the chasm, we need to narrow our target audience to be extremely focused. Innovation can be organized on a grand scale or a small scale. Anything new is referred to as an innovation. This is precisely where innovation has the greatest impact. If you target the right people, innovation will work.

Product identification

Build something that your customer wants.

It is your job to find out what the customer wants because they don’t have the answers. They don’t know what they want.


The MVP contains 3 separate quadrants: desirability, viability, and feasibility.

Desirability: consider what people actually want, as well as the competitive advantages we will have in serving your audience in comparison to your competitors.

The business model’s viability. The business model explains how you can make money from this product.

Technical Capabilities = Feasibility. What technological devices are available to assist you in completing your startup when technology is unavailable? When technology is simply unavailable when we require it, we are compelled to create it. It will be regarded as a significant innovation.

Concentrate on just one thing. You’re the MVP, so you’ll get there. This opens the door for other companies to join MVP in furthering the dream. Your sole objective will be to reach the moon. Leaving room for other companies to get involved and ensure people’s survival when they reach the moon.

We use frameworks like the value proposition canvas and competitive analysis to really understand how to get our desirability. To determine what is available in the market and how we can differentiate ourselves from it.

We have a pricing strategy in place to ensure viability. The pricing strategy discusses how to package your product so that I can profit from it.

The Gartner Hype Cycle is used to assess technical feasibility.

They would assess the most recent technology on the market and place it on the Gartner Hype Cycle, allowing you to determine whether you could adopt it or not.

People are looking for ease of use. Something uncluttered, straightforward, and well-organized.

Strategic Decision Making

Brief summary about the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek

“Companies that do well begin with ‘Why’.” -Simon Sinek

If you know what exactly people are going to ask when opening your products you would know what is your “why” is.


Q: How does one ensure that one’s application is always relevant? I remember night clubs used to change their names in order to stay as the hotspot in town, so how does one do that with their own application or software?

A: Answer: I think this is extremely relevant question especially in our industry today. We can also see in the tech industry where they change the names of certain functionalities inside the organization just to make it sound fancier in a slightly different way. That is definitely common practice, even with artificial intelligence itself. A lot of the times there is basic functionality that is built into the system, and they were just considered as artificial intelligence. So, to some extent it is possible to rename your products and functions, just according to the latest buzzword out there in the industry. However, there are some places where it’s not possible to do that. How do we make sure that we actually have the latest technology or the most relevant product out there in the industry? And the answer is you can't really always do that and it's also not always necessary to do that. We know that the location-based technology has been out there for a very long time, but up until now it's still quite a big feature for innovation.

Q: Can you shed light on the details of the last part of the presentation, the what and the how?

A: Answer: Generally when you have a product you know exactly what your product is. So if you have a sim card you tell people, this is called a sim card and you tell them what it does and how it works. Straight away you have your what and your how. If you have your product that you have in mind, normally the presentations that happen on stage talk a lot about what the product is and how their product works. Of course, if you are on stage, you’d focus on presenting more of the product. Whereas ‘the what’ in the impact map actually outlines everything. If it has a certain amount of user permissions, certain amount of security, encryptions and so on, that is more about ‘the what’. If we’re looking at the golden circle itself, then what is the core of your product and what it actually does.

Q: What is the best way of creating an impactful feedback loop to ensure that you’re building a product innovating for your target customer?

A: I think the best thing to do is always to throw it out there and see how they react to it from your own personal observation. I know some start-ups find this really difficult because they always have this extremely good idea in mind, and they don't want to share it with the world. The moment you start finding the people that you are comfortable sharing this with then start doing it. Even if you have to write an NDA, assign some sort of agreement to discuss it, but most of the case if you have a good business, you don't need to write an NDA. The more feedback you get from the people who are going to adopt your product, the better. The user’s feedback it important.

Q: Does it mean you have to look into vulnerabilities of your competitors and use them to your advantage by improving on them in your application and then use them when advertising?

A: That is definitely an option. There are a lot of things that come in to play when we talk about developing a product and making it successful. You need to understand that the market and your product is your product. So you don't always have to differentiate yourself. You need to win over your audience.

Q: You mentioned that problem solving was the second step. Why is it not the first step in product development?

A: It is very important to understand the concept of product validation before we go into the problem identification. And the reason for that is because you need to first understand what you’re trying to achieve, what you are trying to measure before you can actually identify problems. So, if you don’t know what you trying to measure and how you’re going to validate all of this, even if you identify the problem you are going to forget that you need to measure this. You're going to forget that you need to actually validate your product at some point in time. It is easy to understand how you are going to validate your product. It's really just discussing it and understanding exactly what to do. It's a very small step but a very crucial step in the process.

Missed this masterclass? Catch up here: