So here is the question of the day: how are successful startups made? Here are my rules of thumb.
1) Start with the customers
Do not assume that you know what the customer wants. Get out of the office and talk to your customers. Do not wait until you have worked on your product for months or even years. Do it on day one. Period.
2) Release often
Forget about waterfall development. Waterfall development model assumes that you know the customer problem and know how to solve it. This does not work anymore - maybe it never did. The competition is simply too fast and technology develops too quickly. Instead what you should do is to go to customer all the time to show your progress. For example, 3DBear releases weekly and visits several customers after every release to check that we are moving in the right direction.
3) Maximize learning
The real difference between startups comes from their ability and speed of learning. So whatever we do - populating and managing our idea funnel or customer engagement - the intention is to maximize the speed of learning. We kill projects that do not work and focus on what works. This is called the Lean Startup approach, according to Steve Blank at Stanford University.
4) Work hard
There is no way to get around this fact. Best startups work hard. You cannot create a success-story as a hobby project. It is a full-body sport with a LOT of work, many ups and downs. In the end it is all worth it.
Kristo Lehtonen, CEO of 3DBear