Idan Cohen on How to Improve a Startup Product Development Process

In Chapter 11 of 13 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, technology entrepreneur Idan Cohen answers "What Were the Main Learning Points From Starting and Selling the Company?" Cohen shares ways he would improve the product development process based on what he learned. He finds focus and prioritizing quality are especially important when working in a resource and time constrained startup environment. He learns ways to test himself and others on separating essential and non-essential tasks, including building product features and managing product team and user expectations when features get cut.

Idan Cohen is a technology entrepreneur and product management leader at Samsung Electronics. He co-founded Boxee, which was acquired by Samsung in early 2013. 


Erik Michielsen: What were the main learning points from starting and selling a company?

Idan Cohen:  I think that the main things for me were kind of the things that we could do better on. So for instance, just focusing the product and always being able to-- especially for our company, that we always did too much with too few people in a too short of a time. So obviously as a startup, time is always an issue. And also people and resources are always an issue. So you just need to reduce what you are doing, and that comes down to quality, which is important, and that comes down to market focus and being able to deliver the right product.

And I think that for a long time, we were trying to be a lot of things. And as much as I may have understood it then at some point, but I understand that much better now, is just always take things away. Like just every week, sit down and think, you know, what happens if we don't do this? Does it actually make the experience worse? Or maybe it actually makes the experience better? Or it doesn't change anything, and that's fine. It's just one less thing to worry about.

And it's not just developing the thing because then it's maintaining it, and then it's supporting it, and then it's answering questions about it, and then it sometimes, if you later decide to take it out, it's managing the community that's mad about something now being taken out of something that they love.

And I think that's one of the biggest lessons you can learn, because at the end of the day, whatever you're building, that's at the core of it. So that shapes how you build your team and who you are recruiting, and that shapes how you put your priorities, and that shapes how you raise your money, you know, how you raise your funding and what kind of funding you need, and I think that's the most important thing.