Your Product: Describe vs. Discover

As a founder, I was in love with my products. Head over heels. There was nothing better.

As an investor, I see founders who are in love with their products too. They’ve poured hours and hours into thinking deeply about them and crafting them. I’d argue it’s a prerequisite for a founder to be in love with their products. How else will they sustain the inevitable downturns that nearly all startups face?

But here’s the challenge. As a founder, you spend your waking life thinking about your products. But your potential customers spend five seconds. And therein lies the problem.

Founders who are in love have the hardest time reducing. Ask them to crisply describe the value proposition of their product and you get a five minute discussion. Ask them to describe the most important feature and you get a half dozen. Anytime you ask a founder to reduce the description of the product, they feel boxed in. “But, it’s sooo much more than that!”, they’ll say.

And it is… But it doesn’t matter.

Your customers cannot digest the full scope of your product in one shot. There is no way. They have neither the interest nor the ability to get the new future that you envision in a single gulp.

You have to introduce it to them – one step at a time.

The way I think about this dilemma is that you need to divide your product into one (maximum two) features/benefits you describe and let the user discover the remaining beauty and scope and breadth of your product.

The describe/discover framework, I’ve found, helps founders through the knothole of reductionism. They aren’t limiting the product in their minds, they’re limiting and staging how it’s presented.

Before you launch your product, ideally before you even start developing your product, ask yourself the question, “what’s the one benefit we’re going to describe?” If you can’t answer that question, you’re not ready for launch. Once you answer it, orient your UI, marketing, PR and sales around that.

In my next post I want to talk about how do you pick what feature you describe vs. what ones users discover.

39 Comments

  1. Perry Mizota says:

    Happy to see you blogging again, Joe.

    This post particularly resonates with me. I have found that technologists have a difficult time with this issue. They often build a platform that has so much to offer (at least, in their minds) and the process of narrowing its purpose is a difficult one for most.

  2. Gautham says:

    As they say – Benefits matter to customers and not features..

  3. Joe, I completely recognize that every entrepreneur believes that their product will change the world. It is simply a part of the entrepreneur passion to have such belief.

    What would you recommend to a company that has technology which has already demonstrated world changing capability, to getting in front of somebody like you?

  4. Avadh says:

    so here it is, in a nutshell by Joe, get it now the easy way or the hard way awaits you…if you go further :)

  5. John K says:

    I want to get in touch with the investing team to discuss a startup. Please email me. Thanks.

  6. We are non profit organization in Japan,we are supporting Japnese biotech companies from nation wides.
    We are looking forward to hearing from you to learn more your activity for invest to our high tech bio sector in Japan.
    We are also organizing BIoJapan which is biggest ivent in Asia.

  7. We are non profit organization in Japan,we are supporting Japnese biotech companies .
    We are looking forward to hearing from you zto learn more your activity for invest to our high tech bio sector in Japan.
    We are also organizing BIoJapan which is biggest ivent in Asia.
    We would like to invite you to our Bio Japan , if you are interesting to our activity.
    Regards

  8. lee silva says:

    what does it take if i have an idea for Google to change the world and bring Facebook to its knees? I am a couple of weeks away from a prototype I have a business plan and idea in place it will innovate in a major way including possible patents contact me for details!!!

  9. Garthen Leslie says:

    I have an idea that will target the e-reader market and will take major market share from the current vendors. However, I do not have a team and have not developed the product. What can your lab do tohelp on a case such as this?

  10. Great blog article, managing to articulate the problems caused by the distinction between founder/inventor and the consumer. Lee and Garthen, you guys should check out Ground Six Ltd. They’re better than google ;-)

  11. Scott Calvert says:

    Stumbled onto this. Tears in my eyes how “nailed it” this is. Demand Gen, marketing and Sales Messaging should print, laminate (some I’ve seen should tattoo it on the ass they most often kiss) and look at it every day.

  12. Melinda says:

    I am interested in what each post is about and curious on the scope and focus of each one. As it seems I have a interest personally in each topic and am currently working towards moving forward in a way that will explain for itself for the ones who at this time don’t have the capacity to understand right from wrong and need it spelled out for them. To remove the Iron Curtain, Reveal Truth In Transperancy, and remove false realities maintained by lies through the misuse of no fault actions. We all have a moral fault by allowing repeated harm of one instance or repeated attempts towards a person, a family, or nations, So that’s what I am interested in while still trying to remain positive and patient.

  13. James Hunt says:

    Can you guys start a page for start-ups and new business idea’s which allows the owner to safely post and describe the new business without fear of being ripped-off. Just reading the posts shows the need.
    An owner would know that the google staff has his best interest at heart and the business idea could be date and time stamped to cover copyright and patent infringement issues.
    What say you?
    I know I would use the site, as I have several idea’s to float to your team of ‘creatives’. That’s the way I think of you guys. brain-power for lease.
    Anyway, if you’ve thought of this and it’s not possible, can you tell me how to float an idea to you and recieve some feedback without telling the world before I can develope the plan. Oh, I need money if you think my idea has possibilities.
    Thanks.

  14. Thank you for this article. I am a scientist and it is difficult for me to reduce my beneficial claims down to one.

    I recently saw the interview on the The Gavin Newsom Show of Google cofounder, Sergey Brin. When he was asked about “Google Health”. The jest of what he said is [health does not lend itself to a technological solution. It is more complicated]. I also saw and researched 23andme.com where they use technology to manage disease; not maintain wellness.

    Healthcare is over a one trillion dollar industry and we must reduce disease burden and provide cures. The primary roadblock to improvement and/or cure is our inability to link interventions to improved wellness.

    When a patient starts on their long journey toward wellness, they must continue to make sure they are on the right path. Without proper testing, the patient must put complete trust in how others have responded to the intervention and the opinion of the physician. One observation that was told to me by a wise man, John R Christopher, is that there are no incurable diseases. I have learned since then, that each individual needs to identify the intervention that works for them. I have worked on developing testing that can answer this question in the shortest possible time: Is the intervention working?

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain the need for a shift in resources toward maintaining wellness. I am a clinical test researcher and I have been involved with systemic change analysis methods and disease pattern recognition for over thirty years. For the last fifteen I have been looking at ways to use systemic biochemical monitoring to measure a persons shift to or from wellness.

    The USA and the rest of the world must shift their focus from disease management to reducing the over all disease burden. The inability of the individual to link their actions to the harm they are causing themselves and their loved ones is a primary roadblock to improved wellness. Since the majority of clinical tests are only used to identify and manage disease, the public has a false sense of health security. They are led to believe they are well as long as they do not have a defined clinical disease.

    Using new testing protocols that measure epigenetic biochemical changes, an individual can monitor if their intervention is working for management of their disease. These tests can also indicate to someone without disease if their actions are maintaining or improving their wellness. One significant difference in wellness testing compared to disease monitoring is the need to monitor systemic biochemical changes over time instead of using a comparison to some “normal range”. Wellness testing is not dependent on the intervention used. For example, you could have taken a drug, used an herb, practiced yoga, or used group prayer as the intervention.

    Epigenetic biochemical monitoring of change over time is a superior method to monitor subtle systemic changes associated with a return to wellness within days to weeks of starting an intervention. Epigenetic testing is done on a standard blood sample, but there are restrictions in some states that restrict the acquiring a blood sample.

    One of my goals is not to just replace toxic medical interventions with less toxic alternatives; but to provide a path to maintaining wellness. I would like your help.

    Background
    THE PERSONALIZED HEALTH PROJECT
    Identifying the gaps between discovery and application
    in the life sciences, and proposed solutions
    January 2011
    by
    David Ewing Duncan

    EXCERPT

    Impact of the environment
    What occurs inside our cells and body is only part of the equation in assessing an individual human. For most disease, the impact of our environment—sunlight, air, chemical toxins, smoking, food, and water—is the primary source of common diseases and other deleterious traits. Modifying one‘s environment has been estimated to reduce the risks of stroke, colon cancer, coronary heart disease, and adult onset diabetes by as much as 90 percent.
    REFERENCE 41

    Studies of twins indicate that the risk attributable to genes for many cancers is as low as 10 percent, and GWAS suggest that the heritability of many common diseases is considerably less than the impact of the environment. REFERENCE 42
    Lately, scientists have learned that the environment can cause epigenetic changes—changes that impact how a gene behaves, but don‘t change the makeup of the gene itself—that can activate the advent of disease.
    Given the environment‘s enormous impact on disease, a substantial gap exists between the attention lavished on genetics and the comparatively scant attention given to how environmental factors interact with genes and human biology to cause outcomes.

  15. Antoine Friend says:

    Joe,

    I wanted to know your perspective on a little delima that I have. I have a few kids that are 10 namely 2 girls … avid readers. I have kindles, ipads, iphones, tech gizmo A, B and C. What I don’t have is a unified way to manage what I call linked email accounts. As a parent I want my kids to have access to email in a way. Especially, when it comes to separating my subscribed items and books from theirs. So I was wondering … wouldn’t it be nice to have a Google jr feature for our google+ email controlled and managed by parents that are linked to our tween related email accounts. That way we can subordinate ownership of things that we subscribe to in amazon or on our ipads. I feel like we are leaving kids out of certain equations and they are infact our largest growth demo.

  16. Kirk McGee says:

    We are looking for an investor to help us grow…In business since 1990 and over 2 million in sales…internet based and national since 2006…

    Please contact Kirk at 254-214-4996 or email…

  17. Paolo says:

    Joe, I really liked your article. I await the next post to see what is your suggestion on how to discriminate what to describe and what leave to customers’ discovery.

  18. Hello, we are a startup: Grand Slam It Mobile. Can you tell us what steps we need to take to open a dialog to explore the possibility of joining the Google family of companies successfully launched?

    Thank you
    Bob Reinschild
    GSI

  19. sanjog says:

    more than benefits, its an instant gratification. people dont buy technology they buy solutions that are quick, simple and sensible. when the story gets longer you get into discovery mode and loose out on interest. visuals must create an Aha effect thats why a design articulation is more important these days…no wonder pinterest emerged as it touched the heart first and then people slowly discovered its remnant features…sensory appeal is what steve jobs was really good at…but the idea must not be me-too and must not be an aggregation of me-toos, branding must be fresh and value must be compelling…then you dont have to do pitching …people take their time to breathe with your product…dont go to VCs who have attitude and ask you to show the product ( tail flicking dog ) and then after seeing the product VC dumps you ( useless dog )…have guts to launch and gather some self-esteem and do stoop to VCs…they should follow the founder rather the way round….founders are wasting their time

  20. Do you invest, in startup energy companies. Drilling companies for oil and gas? I am looking for a JV venture partner of $50M.

    JC. Mathiews

    jcmtmcc@live.com

  21. Krishna Varanasi says:

    “let the user discover the remaining beauty and scope and breadth of your product”-Joe

    I would compare the “discovery” to a suspense thriller . we would never understand who the villain is till the very last moment. Every Entrepreneur thinks himself to be a Sherlock Holmes and would always think that he is the one who has got the master stroke with him. So Keep guessing!!!!!!

  22. Hi, as noted in previous posts, I need to discuss a proposal with somebody at G.V my company is Gravity turbine ltd. Thank you.

  23. Adarsh Singh says:

    I want to do something very big in my life and create something great for this world so that life becomes more simpler for people accessing the web. I want to create a blogging tool, which can completely transform blogging experience of the users , not only they can blog more freely and they can make more money out of it and it is based on ideology “Get Bigger & Earn Bigger”. Personally I also write tech Blogs and I have used Blogger & WordPress and found that existing blogging don’t satisfy me and in my opinion they can be much better If they are transformed in a new model . From last 1 year I am thinking on it and i have thought of a model. I want to make it but I can’t as i don’t that much knowledge of Programming I only Know little of c++ . I admit that I don’t have that much of Programming Knowledge but I have ideas which can transform experiences. I don’t want anything but a little support of your team. I know if this is going to be implemented it’s going to transform experiences and lives. Like this I have Studied many Problems across internet And trying to work on those by Building a model for them. I know you have a very good team of programmers & experts who can guide me and help me to implement these Projects.

    I am in very early age of my dream If your team team help me , surely web experiences would be changed forever.

    Hope you will understand…

    Name -Adarsh Singh
    Age -17 years
    City- Lucknow
    State-Uttar Pradesh
    Country- India

  24. We have been receiving frequently about an award from Google
    with an amount of BP 850,000 and asking me to provide some details for them to release this amount. I am sure this from some scammer and I attach below the letter I received from them:

    Google Emblem

    Google Incorporation®.
    Peter House Oxford Street,
    M4 6AN,Manchester.
    SW1W 9TQ,
    United Kingdom.

    Notification Date: 23/6/2012

    GOOGLE WINNING NOTIFICATION.

    We wish to congratulate you once again on this note, for being part of our lucky winners selected this year. This promotion was set-up to encourage the active use of the Google search engine and the Google ancillary services. Hence we do believe with your winning prize, you will continue to be active and patronage to this company. Google is now the world leading search engine worldwide, and in an effort to sure that it remains the most widely used search engine, an online e-mail balloting was carried out on the First Day Of the month without your knowledge, it was officially released today been the 23rd of JUNE Of The Year 2012.We wish to formally announced to you that your email address was attached the sum of 850,000.00{Eight Hundred And Fifty Thousand Great British Pounds Sterling’s}.

    We also wish to inform you that you have successfully passed the requirements, statutory obligations, verifications and our satisfactory report test conducted for all our online winners. A winning Cheque will be issued in your name by Google Promotion Award Team, and also a certificate of prize claims will be sent along side your winning Cheque.

    These are your award details.
    Security Code Number: GUK/4532345G.
    Ticket No: GUK/699/33/2012
    Winning Number: GUK/877/798/2012

    Information’s required from you are part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program. To claim
    your won prize, please contact our Foreign Transfer Manager DR WILLIAMS GIBSON neatly filling the verification and fund release form below.

    VERIFICATION AND FUNDS RELEASE FORM.
    (1) Your contact address.
    (2) Your Tel/Fax numbers.
    (3) Your Nationality/Country.
    (4) Your Full Name.
    (5) Sex.
    (6) Occupation.
    (7) Age.
    (8) Ever won an online lottery

    Mode of Prize Remittance.
    (1)Courier Delivery Of your Certified Winning Cheque Name and other Winning Documents safely to you.
    (2)Bank Transfer (Bank to Bank Transfer)
    You are advised to contact your Foreign Transfer Manager DR WILLIAMS GIBSON with his private email details below to avoid unnecessary delay and complications:

    ***********************************************
    FOREIGN CLAIMS MANAGER
    DR WILLIAMS GIBSON
    GOOGLE VALIDATION OFFICE DEPARTMENT (UK).
    E-mail: googleteam@vf.vc
    Phone: +447011150606
    **********************************************

    The Google Promotion Award Team has discovered a huge number of double claims due to winners informing close friends relatives and third parties about their winnings and also sharing their identification numbers. As a result of this, these friends try to claim the lottery on behalf of the real winners. The google promotion award committee has reached a decision from the headquarters at the United Kingdom that any double claim discovered by the Lottery Board will result to the disqualification of the winners lottery. So you are hereby strongly advised once more to keep your winnings strictly confidential until you claim your prize.

    Congratulations from the Staffs & Members of the Google interactive Lottery
    Board Commission, I want to thank you for your corperation.

    Yours Sincerely,
    MRS. VERUMLEM KLEITH.
    GOOGLE ZONAL CORDINATOR
    LONDON,UNITED KINGDOM.

  25. We are looking for venture partners in the mobile space. We have a great product, check out http://www.waytag.com and watch the three minute video. We were placed in the top 10 of “The Next Web” in May 2012. We are in the States over the end of July and we were wondering if there was an opportunity to meet the Google guys?

  26. Brian Couch says:

    Hi Joe… we have the ’1-liner’ you want, could you please have someone at Google Ventures email me so we can begin the process of bringing life to a worldwide concept. Thanks.

  27. Rafael says:

    Hey.
    I have many inventions.
    I want to do business with you. a look here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbfvO_dc3fA

    To whom I can show your company Google

    Thanks

    Rafael Patino

  28. Alex Diaz says:

    We will be the social media water company of the web. We have several ideas that will work with your Ad network and have completed the technical mechanical aspect of this venture without no funding. Would like to send documentation to be review. Now we just need to expand and have a Google branded device that would like to place on campus.

    Regards,

    Alex Diaz

  29. Peter Herczeg says:

    My name is Peter Herczeg,

    I would like to introduce You a discovery, a
    mobile app.

    The discovery of a new user-friendly control, through which we can
    build new types of content, which can be used with new approaches.
    Smartphones, tablets, e-books, games consoles, touchpad, mouse,
    accessories, heating applications, content. (Categories) A major
    project which will start mobile app development, human interfaces,
    accessories, mobile phone brand with a new build-up construction.

    In the first place of sporting, social, music discovery app categories
    I would like to introduce You.

    best regards,

    Peter Herczeg

  30. thomasduffy says:

    I want to get in touch with the investing team to discuss a startup. Please email me. Thanks.

  31. [...] See on joekraus.com [...]

  32. Josh Reeder says:

    Really great insight that will change how I pitch altogether. This will keep investors from thinking its a bloated idea and allowing them to wrap their mind around it and allow me to stay focused on the reason we exist.

  33. yves apeloig says:

    Hi every body
    It seemed to me something is going wrong in the Google world.
    I tried to be in touch with a lot of people on the higher level including by letter (funny isn’t it ) without ever receiving a single answer.
    What was the subject ? assuredly a disruptive successful (technologically speaking) innovation Google engineer including Mr. Brin himself was offended that some totally unknown guy make it working when they don’t.
    Here the subject working
    https://www.box.net/shared/7m2f3s3kez
    But I am yet open to all proposal.

  34. Margaret says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about business problems and solutions.
    Regards

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  37. Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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