Building an MVP also known as a minimum viable product is something that a lot of founders both technical and non-technical want to do. Believe me as a founder and an engineer I understand the strong desire to build and ship a product. Then collect feedback to see how customers feel about it.
Founders come to me stating they are ready to build their product, and need to recruit technical teammates to make it happen. I dig into their idea. I start by asking:
- Who is the customer specifically?
- What is the common feedback they’ve given on the idea?
- What is your product roadmap?
Why would I bother asking such questions instead of just making an email intro to the engineers in my network? For a few reasons.
Make Sure You’re Actually Ready To Build Your Minimum Viable Product
You might think you’re ready to build because you have an idea. But you need more than that, you need to at least complete the following steps:
- Market research to understand competitors and figure out how you’re going to differentiate your product from theirs
- Market segmentation to figure out who your early adopter is.
- Usability tests on paper prototypes to get potential customers (not your friends) to valid the concept and provide feedback.
- Built a product roadmap based on feedback from the usability tests to guide the direction of what you’re building.
If any of these is missing, you’re just not ready to build, and will find it hard to recruit.
Truthfully any stellar candidate I refer you to isn’t going to want to work for your either. Even if they come on board you’ll have a hard time retaining them. The one rare exception I’d make is if you plan to bring them on as a co-founder, then it makes sense for them to be involved early on in the process, but still no one should be writing any code!
Things To Do Before Build Your Minimum Viable Product
- Market Research. Perhaps this is becoming an antiquated concept. But I think more founders need to do this step to avoid too many pivots later on. There is no substitute for knowing the market your in. You need to understand your competition. Know their product offering, the customers they are servicing, and customer sentiment about their product. If you do this step well you will actually uncover your customers. You’ll understand their needs, and how you can differentiate your value proposition to attract them and make your MVP succeed.
- Market Segmentation. Once you’ve done market research, you want to segment. I know once again there is desire to solve a problem for a LOT of people. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, and attract early adopters. From the market research figure out who actually needs or wants your product craft that into a persona, and that will be the early adopter you go after.
- Usability Tests. The early adopter is the customer who you’ll have initial conversations with and perform usability tests on. At BizeeBee, we uncovered that independent yoga studio owner who were sole proprietors as our early adopters. I had a number of conversations with them. I showed them a series of paper prototypes for nearly 6 months before writing a single line of code. These folks became our customer base when we launched 2 years ago. Since then the customer base has broadened. But it was wise to have the early adopter have a very specific persona for targeting and providing a clear value proposition. Ours at the time was making it easy to take attendance and track expired yoga students. Have a specific persona also made it easier on my teammates when it came to thinking about the customer.
- Product Roadmap. Through the process of performing usability tests on some paper mockups you should be able to solicit feedback from potential customers. It will help you figure out what are absolute needs. Go on to prioritize those need. And have a bucket of nice-to-haves. All of this will go into the product roadmap. The product roadmap will need to be showcased to potential hires. It helps them know where you are going before they decide to hop on board for the ride.
To Do’s done for your minimum viable product?
If you tell me you’ve performed all those steps, then I’d say yes you’re ready to recruit someone to build your minimum viable product! The next step for you will be to learn how to recruit. But if you haven’t completed your to-do list. Or you’re stuck on how to do any of those steps, and want to learn the how get through that to-do’s list then check out our upcoming Ship It Course. We’ll cover all the steps and provide you individualized feedback Learn more!