How I Used Data For Product Development

February 23, 2011


I shared with everyone my launch of a printable games company and how we found our first niche in printable baby shower games. As I build this company I have decided to share as many details as I can - from research to revenue (which we finally generated!).  

As I mentioned in my lightbulb to launch post, getting the website up (about 4 hours) was the easy part - I build websites every day. The hard part was deep diving into a niche that I knew absolutely nothing about. I didn't even know a market for printable baby shower games existed until the lightbulb flashed. How do you start a business with no subject matter expertise?


I used data. If you follow along with me online you may remember a podcast episode about Data Driven Marketing. The idea is to use data (from analytics, search, social) to identify and execute strategies for a business.


In this case I used data for defining a product development strategy in a market I knew nothing about (more on mastering the unknown later).


How? Well....


Crowd Sourced Data Gathering

As I mentioned I knew nothing about baby shower games when starting this venture - I just liked the model. So where the hell do you start? My first task (and first expense) was outsourcing this initial data gathering. I needed to know what baby shower games are played. I hired a couple researchers on ODesk (you could use Mechanical Turk or CrowdFlower) to source a list of baby shower games from the web.


The cost? Around $10. The Results? Hundreds of baby shower game ideas.


Okay I have data ... Now what?


Analyzing Data

I took the list of potential baby shower games and plugged it into Google's Keyword Research Tool. Using this tool I could see which games had the highest demand and lowest competition. Using a few similar metrics as data points I was able to pinpoint the best products to have designed first.


Example: Let's say you have two product ideas... A widget and a watchamacallit. Using the aforementioned tools you figure out that....


Widget: 100,000 Monthly Searches, $1.00 Cost Per Click (CPC), High Competition

Watchamacallit: 60,000 Monthly Searches, $.39 Cost Per Click (CPC), Low-Medium Competition


Which product should you make first? Well, the watchamacallit because the barriers to entry are far less while maintaining a decent amount of search potential.


Keyword_research Google_chrome_10 Google_chrome_9 Google_chrome_8


If your product idea has less than 1,000 monthly searches - nobody is looking for it. Why create a product nobody wants? For $10 and an hour of research on baby shower game search and advertising patterns I was able to vet my idea. Not bad.


Not only was my idea validated with this research, I was able to create a prioritized list of games to design. I can now create baby shower games that are in the highest demand. That's extremely valuable information to launch with.


What's Next?

Current Projects

🤖 Storytime

Personalized children's stories generated by AI. This is an app I am building with my kids.

📠 Fax Online

Yea, I know. But there is a long tail for everything and believe it or not there was an underserved market for people that need to send a fax online. Some people (like me!) just need to send a one time fax.

Read more about this micro Saas project in a blog post about building an online fax service.

📱 Cloud Number

Cloud Number is a virtual phone app that helps you protect your privacy online. Use it to receive SMS online and keep your phone number private. It's also a great service for a freelancer or entrepreneur that wants to have a separate phone for their business for SMS and voicemail.

Read more on this app in a blog post about building a virtual phone service. Just launched a temp number service for when you only need a number once.

> See all projects