The Three-Step Process to a Great Product – Jonny Hendriksen, ShuttleRock

Many of you will be familiar with ValueClick or ValueCommerce, although you may not even know it. ValueClick was one of the first online marketing services, offering advertisers placements on websites with quality content, and publishers the chance to earn revenue from their online material.

The people behind the massively successful online companies, which have both listed on stock markets overseas, have now created a crowd-marketing platform that enables businesses to utilize content that originates from their fan base. This allows them to generate SEO-rich material, that uses what engaged customers are saying to produce relevant and high-quality content for their digital assets.

As well as having ValueClick, ValueCommerce, and now ShuttleRock on his resume, Hendriksen also co-founded Photowonder in Japan ten years ago, which is an online photo processor that commands around 200 employees around the globe. There are two secrets to the success Jonathan has with his ventures. The first is isolating the difficulty that needs to be eliminated. “It’s trying to solve some of the problems that we have had ourselves. And then talking to customers and seeing how we can assist them and help them with some of their immediate problems.”

The second secret is listening. From conception, to production, and finally to the polishing and launching stages of development, finding the time to LISTEN to the users of your product is crucial. “The process [involves] talking closely with customers, and then feeding that back into the software with our programmers.”

And that’s even how new products are developed. “The big thing that we do is build projects and products made from listening to our customers.”

The next step required to achieve success with a product is not a secret. Hard work is not foreign to Jonathan. In the early stages of gaining the crucial first loyal users, it involves going and searching for the customers, rather than having them find you. “Most people are very busy, so you really have to do your best to find the people who you think would be the best users of your product.”

In the past twenty years and with that three-step process (isolate the problem, listen to the customer, and work hard getting your first users), Hendriksen has built four tremendously prosperous online companies.

Jonny agrees that New Zealand is a wonderful place to found a start-up in, but recruiting people who are qualified and skillful here has been a challenge. “Finding good people is the most important thing.” As we have seen with other tech startups, like Posse and Imera, having a good team is tantamount to having a great product.

Do you 2013 and 2014 are good years to be an entrepreneur in New Zealand?

I think every year is a good year to be an entrepreneur really. In any situation there is an opportunity, but I must admit that probably the world economy, and the New Zealand economy, is reasonably buoyant at the moment. So yeah 2013 and 2014 are good years to be going. Every body is reasonably positive about the future.

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