Managing the Product Development Lifecycle with Tanooki Labs Co-Founder Dave Renz


From design and market validation to marketing and monetization, product development is about more than a great idea. 

According to research, 42 percent of startups fail because they offer products or services that are not needed by the market. Additionally, 10 percent of startup failures can be attributed to pricing/cost issues, user-unfriendly products, poor marketing, and product mistiming.

“There’s a degree of realism that someone who’s trying to start a company has to grapple with in terms of the technology,” says entrepreneur Dave Renz. “It involves validating your idea and making sure people are building the right thing. There’s a lot of variables that go into that.” 

Renz is the co-founder of Tanooki Labs, a software design and development firm that focuses on helping founders bring their products and services to market. At fnSummit 2022, Renz will be among the panelists in a roundtable discussion examining the product development lifecycle from idea to execution. The panel will provide insight on validating product ideas, integrating user feedback, and avoiding common product pitfalls. 

Here’s a sneak peek at his advice for startup founders as they work through the product development lifecycle. 

Shifting Product Development Trends

 Early in his career, Renz worked with AOL Ventures, the now defunct venture capital arm of AOL. Since then, he’s seen a number of changes to how startups are navigating the product development lifecycle, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted the way many industries operate. According to a Mckinsey report, the pandemic spurred increased digitization of the product development process.

“Styles of work have changed. COVID has really had an interesting impact on the way these things are done,” Renz says. “You don’t necessarily see people ever. It’s impacted how relationships are built, how brainstorming is done, and how design conversations happen. There are pros and cons to it.”

The Power of Delegating

When it comes to managing the product development lifecycle, being a non-technical founder can be a challenge. That’s why Renz advises non-technical founders to seek assistance in the form of a technical co-founder, chief technical officer or product design and development firm like Tanooki Labs. 

“You don’t have to be everything,” Renz says. “Obviously you have to wear many hats. But you can waste a lot of opportunities and time trying to do something yourself when it might be easier to find some other way.”

Creating a Sounding Board

The product development lifecycle is riddled with trial and error. According to reports, for every 7 product ideas, only 1.5 launch, and only 1 succeeds. Additionally, for every seven new product ideas, only four enter the product development stage. And overall, new products have a failure rate of 25 to 45 percent. That’s why Renz says it’s important to have a variety of advisors to serve as informal sounding boards throughout the product development lifecycle. 

“One thing I think is really important is having multiple people who are just friendly advisors that you can bounce ideas off of,” Renz says. “Getting a variety of perspectives is useful. If you’re relying on one person, I think some people get some bad advice occasionally.”

fnSummit 2022 encapsulates the Founders Network experience. It gives startup founders the opportunity to learn from other tech founders in the startup ecosystem, build deep relationships with investors, and uncover solutions to the challenges they’re facing. The annual event provides the perfect setting for off the record discussion, reflection, and networking.

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