Should you create features for potential customers?

By Jake Hare, Founder of Launchpeer
Today's question comes from Bill. I have a large potential customer who would pilot our software if we can integrate with their time-tracking platform, however, it doesn't have an open API. What are your recommendations for managing integrations and partnerships?

Building new features or doing integrations based on the hope that someone might sign up for your product can be dangerous and does not mean that they are actually a potential customer.

When it comes to validation, talking to people is great, but it's not really a good way to gauge if they'll get out their wallet when push comes to shove.

Get it in writing

In this case, I wouldn't do any integration work until you get something in writing, such as a letter of intent, from the potential customer requesting it. It stinks to hear that, but if you spend a bunch of time and money to do the integration and then things change on the company's side, then you could be completely left holding the bag.

Set out some guidelines such as how long it will take you to finish the feature and that when it is done they will sign on for a specific time period or cost.

You wouldn't build a new feature for one person, so you need to make sure you are hearing it from a group of people. And ideally, it would be people already paying you for your product.

" Building new features based on the hope that someone might sign up for your product can be dangerous and does not mean that they are actually a potential customer."
How to navigate third-party partnerships

Bill's other question is around how to deal with the third-party company his customer wants to work with. Typically, you'd find any API documentation first. If they don't have that, you should reach out to their support desk and let them know your situation and ask if they have an API that's not publicly accessible.

If they don't respond, then try to reach out to someone higher up in the company but start with people you can reach out to immediately. They are often the most knowledgeable about the company anyway.