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March 31, 2022

OSS Ventures's Product Process

We launched 10 successful startups in 3 years – thanks to the OSS Ventures process. 

OSS Ventures launched in 2019, only 1 in 12 startups survived. And our research revealed that the situation for industrial startups was even more challenging.

Long sales cycles, poorly designed industrial SaaS, and cultural barriers between tech and industry combined to cut off any momentum. Plus, a general lack of funding hampered startup growth and discouraged new entrants into the market. 

The vast majority of industry startups ended up one of two ways: a premature sale or failure.

To overcome these difficulties, the OSS Ventures process was created, which has two parts: Product and Growth. 

This article describes the Product portion of the process, during which the OSS product team designs an industrial SaaS and completes the product/market fit research. 

The Product phase itself has three steps:

  1. Exploration
  2. Ideation
  3. Design

Read on to find out how each step contributes to the product team's final goal: the creation of an industrial SaaS.

Part 1: Exploration

Objective: Define a problem where Industrial SaaS will deliver significant value

In the first step of the OSS Ventures product process, the product team defines the problem through user research. 

The OSS Ventures product team visits factories weekly to observe operators, team leaders and managers in all departments to understand how they work. These visits allow OSS to identify bottlenecks in the plant's operational processes, user friction and constraints, and opportunities for improvement. 

During the visits, the OSS Ventures team asks questions about day-to-day problems, current tools and the way manufacturers communicate. They even try to find the little annoyances that have become so commonplace that manufacturers hardly notice them anymore. 

This approach provides the product and design team with comparable data that reveals the impact of a non-optimized process at each level of the factory. 

Defining the problem well is of utmost importance because it determines the product that the team will develop. If the problem does not address the operational bottleneck, the industrial SaaS will not meet the real needs of the industrials. In short, it will not provide enough value.

Thus, the OSS product team iterates its conception of the problem, relying on the expertise of the OSS community and industrial partners. The multiplicity of viewpoints brings clarity and originality to the iteration sessions.

At the end of this step, the product team has a deep understanding of the problem and they can move on to the next step: how to solve it.

Part 2: Ideation

Objective: Define a solution that delivers value to users/buyers by best addressing the problem

With the problem identified, the OSS team begins to define a solution that would deliver maximum value to users. 

Again, the OSS team iterates with industry collaborators, but this time the goal is to generate and test lots of concept or service ideas.

The product team tests to gather feedback on the projected vision. These tests determine if the proposed solution has significant value to potential customers. To test the concept, the team may represent the service via target user journeys, or even prototype the concept. 

They create and eliminate hypotheses until the team has identified a solution that will bring value to the industry, from the bottom up.

Now that the product team has a focused value and service proposition, they can move to the next phase, where they turn that solution concept into a product concept.

Part 3: Design

Objective: Determine how to build the product, its interface, and how to effectively deliver the concept's value proposition and service.

At the beginning of the second phase, the team has a clear idea of the solution. But it needs to decide how to convert this idea into an industrial SaaS. What are the specific functions, features and value propositions of the product? 

To move quickly toward its goal, the team avoids coding the product at first. Instead, it iterates on the key uses, content and features that enable users to derive the value defined in steps 1 and 2. 

During the iterations, the product team prototypes, completes user path testing in the interface, and usability testing, among research.

These tests allow the product team to iterate until the OSS Ventures tech team and the CTO of the new startup can launch the product coding. With coding underway, the team begins feature testing, and after even more iterations, validates the first version of the product.

At the end of the product process, the first version of the product, also called the minimum viable product, is implemented at the industrial site. 

Product deployed, and the OSS Ventures process continues 

During the four-month product process, the product team designs and delivers a well thought-out product that is suitable for its market. With the product deployed on industrial sites, the next phase of the OSS Ventures process, Growth, can begin.

Stay tuned for more information about the last two steps of the OSS Ventures process, Growth and Community Support!

Want to know more about OSS Ventures? Contact us!