Catch me if you can. Guide to market research

Doing research is the essential part of each project, no matter for product developers or software engineers. By doing quality research you'll understand the topic and will be able to build the structure of the project easily.

Let's go through 3 steps on how you can do effective research. I'm focusing on doing market researches for startups and tech companies, let's have an example to follow so you can have an example of a market research.

Let's say we're building a product for HRs that helps them to do interviews (let's call it FriendlyStaff) our features include generation of interview invitation emails, candidate tracking, social media sourcing.

Identify the key factors

Time is the one highly limited resource that we have at our hands. Our focus is not to waste our time on going deep in the topic that we eventually won't need, but to find the key factor that we need to track down in order to acquire answers to our questions and maybe find new interesting ones.

So what is our FriendlyStaff doing? Apparently it helps to improve:

 - the timely communication between the hiring person and the potential employee,

 - find the right candidates through their social media presence.

Let me tell you 2 points to focus doesn't mean that the FriendlyStaff is not solving any kind of problem, in reality it really means that this hypothetical and totally made up company is trying to start small which is always a good thing to do.

For our research we'll try to find the companies that try to solve the same problems: communication, and candidate sourcing (spoiler alert, I did this research in real life, there were around 160+ HR tech startups that focused in the same area).

Remember the thing that I said about time? Reviewing 160+ startups will take more than a week (spoiler alert, heh yeah I kinda did it, oopsie :) ), so what can you do to save your time is to look at the startups that have the most amount of funding and revenue (5-10 startups). This will show you what features are working, how big is your market and the main trends in the industry.

Not to fully cut off the new companies I really suggest installing Product hunt chrome extension, so you can be up to date and see if any new startup are coming by your industry, but we'll talk about tools later in this post.

Breakdown the process

Next, pretty obvious step in the process is to register in the 5 - 10 platforms that you selected to see how they work.

The thing I suggest you to focus on is not the design or user-friendliness of their platform (although you can or even should be doing this), but to see how the actual process works.

Right now a lot of startups are more focused on pushing their product out there as fast as they can, which I'm a fan of because ideas should not live in your head. But there's a problem with this kind of launches. If the product reaches a success, there's no process behind it. Let me explain what I mean.

So our FriendlyStaff is generating email templates for hiring managers to send to candidates at any phase of the hiring process, which is a cool feature to have.

What it really means in terms of the process is to have:

- library of email templates 5 - 7 for each phase of hiring process,

- some tracking tool that will tell which templates are used more frequently,

- some tracking tool that will tell which templates were edited manually by hiring managers,

- weekly (bi weekly, or any other consistent period) improvement process of the templates.

What are you looking for in your competitors websites is how they are handling the process, how are they approaching their customers and what distinguished them in their approach.  

Open source what?

Now enough with the long sentences and theory, here is the practice for your research.

So, our FriendlyStaff is here, how do you actually start researching the market.

This is how I do it, I think about any HR tech product that I can remember, for me I don't know why the HR tech product I always hear about is BambooHR.

BambooHR has some of the feature that FriendlyStaff has, which shows that we're on the right track. The only thing that is left to find alternatives to BambooHR, after which you can use the following tools to improve your research.

 - Crunchbase - really helpful in finding the amount of fundings of startups, funding rounds and potentially to understand which VC's are interested in the industry.

 - Similarweb - when you found your 5 - 10 companies you can use similarweb to see the highlevel coverage of their online presence. The platform will provide metrics like bounce rate, average session duration, MAU, traffic sources and etc.

 - Kaggle - Kaggle sometimes has a lot of open source data sets that can be helpful for crunching these numbers.

 - Producthunt - the holly grail of the market research, here you can connect to people that are building the same startups, see how they are doing and launch you product using their Ship, to gather first customer feedback.

 - Owler - a platform that provides a lot of useful information about the startup including their revenue.

Hope this tips will help you in making your own FriendlyStaff a reality.

Stay tuned for more info on product development.

Good luck!