Come to Poornima’s workshop at General Assembly in San Francisco on October 27 for an Introduction to Product Development class to learn the process for picking features to create a viable MVP – register here to save 15% as a Women 2.0 member.
By Poornima Vijayashanker (Founder & CEO, BizeeBee)

I’m not sure they why the call it software, it’s so damn hard to build. In fact, I’m convinced the only reason they call it software is because hardware is harder to build. So maybe this great marketing tactic is what draws people into building software, and the number of those who are building is certainly growing.

While I’ve been building software for eight years (six in startup land), I’ve noticed a definite trend in the past two years, which is that there is a really high proportion of people who want to build products. In fact, their desire is so great that they go to length to do things like: raise capital, hire people, and then proceed to build.

But then something strange happens… they hit a brick wall, not just once, but again and again. They’re unable to ship even the first version, and after some hard work they throw in the towel and claim: “there just wasn’t a product-market-fit”. There never is and there never will be if you’re driven by a want. This of doesn’t just happen in a startup, it happens at any stage of the company, it’s just most prevalent in startups.

The truth is like anything in life, you don’t build products for the fame, the glory or the exit. The number one reason you build a product is passion. And if you ain’t got it, then you need to figure out how to get it, because honestly it cannot be taught, and this is coming from someone who wants to increase ticket sales of her Intro to Product Development class

The reason I say passion should be the number one driver is because a lot of things will go wrong. While I’m not a fortune teller, I can be certain that things will go wrong. I could even come up with a list of 100 things that I’ve personally experienced, but I need to save time and get back to building my product, so here are the top three that you need to be able to stomach:

  1. You’re co-founder leaving you.
  2. Running out of money.
  3. People not believing in you and thinking you’re insane.

If you can handle those three, then I’d say you’re good to go! The rest (like deadlines slipping and losing sleep) are easy by comparison. You need to use your passion for building a product to help you get through those difficult moments, and they aren’t really moments – they will feel like an era.

While passion cannot be taught, it can be harvested and cultivated. Here’s the secret sauce: build a product you believe in. It doesn’t matter if you’re the founder, engineer, designer, or whatever in a company. You have to believe in what you are building. It’s great if it solves a problem for you, but even if it doesn’t, that’s OK.

Only if you believe in the product will you want to build it and improve it. If you don’t believe in the product, you’ll concoct excuses to jump ship the minute you spot an iceberg ahead.

Discovering what you’re passionate about takes time. For some people, it can be years and for others, it’s a lifetime. While it can take time to find inspiration, I’d definitely encourage you to learn the process of building a product. That process is important. Understanding the process, putting in place and then falling back on it during those tough moments is how you know you’re passionate.

If you want to learn the product development process, come to my Introduction to Product Development course on Saturday, October 27 in San Francisco. I canot guarantee you’ll walk away passionate, but once you find it you’ll have the right process to make things happen! Women 2.0 members save 15% with discount code “Femgineer” – I am looking forward to meeting YOU!

This post was originally posted at Femgineer.

Women 2.0 readers: Why do YOU build a product? Let us know in the comments!

About the guest blogger: Poornima Vijayashanker is Founder and CEO of BizeeBee. Prior to that, she was at Mint where she began as employee #3 in 2006, and stayed through the startup’s acquisition by Intuit for $170M in 2010. Prior to Mint, she was in the Master’s degree program for computer science at Stanford University but dropped out to join Mint. Poornima holds a double degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science from Duke University. Poornima blogs on and is a competitive yoga. Follow her on Twitter at @poornima.