How to Build Great Products: Insights Conference

October 12th, 2010 by Caroline Scheinfeld View Comments

On Friday, October 1, 2010, creative and eager techies (VC’s & Entrepreneurs) gathered at New York’s Soho House to discuss How to Build Great Products. While many believe conferences to be dry and monotonous, this was quite the contrary. Attendees laughed and listened as speakers shared their experiences, wisdom, sarcasm and insight. Following the conference, I possessed a deeper understanding of what it means to be a good product, from its content to its interface. With a Textile/Fashion background, I have been trained to channel my inner creativity as well as aesthetics, but learned that is not the case with online products.

Kevin Kearney of Hard Candy Shell, said design is not defined by aesthetics, art or being “cool,” but rather how well a current problem is solved. With an affinity for fashion, I have been socialized to follow my instinct opposed to solving a problem with a structured strategy. In the technology sphere, without a disciplined and defined strategy, it is nearly impossible for an online product to succeed.

In order to define your strategy, observe potential consumers to see exactly what they need. Do not create a new demand for some fad. In the fashion industry, trends drive the business. Fashion industry members create new demands for products people had no idea they even needed! In technology generate an essential product!

With an organized strategy, develop your product! According to Kevin, the product should not be about you! It is a solution. He stressed the importance of simplicity, which can be synonymous with lackluster and boring in other arenas of business. The best quote of the day was Kevin who said,” The interface does not have to entertain, the product should entertain.”

Giff Constable’s is a smart solution to a problem. Giff saw a lack of serendipity online and tried to solve it by simulating discovery while online shopping. In other words, his site can be seen as window shopping, stumbling upon a new store and making a purchase. While illustrating his strategy, he strained the importance of an entrepreneur’s vision. Despite feedback and advice along the startup journey, try to not lose sight of your idea.

The main points I absorbed are as follows: focus on your audience, observe problems they face, devise a cohesive strategy with key features that solves a problem. Along the way, DO NOT LOSE YOUR VISION.


About Jay Levy

Jay Levy

Jay Levy is a co-founder and principal of Zelkova Ventures. Jay focuses most of his time in working with the current portfolio company and looking at new investments in the software-as-a-service, internet media and green tech space. More »


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