An MVP is not software.

by | Dec 2022 | Build a Product

The markets are shocking at the moment, and there’s a lot of fear going around. If you think now is a good time to launch your own software company, here’s the biggest mistake you can make…

Building software.

What you need is a minimum viable product (MVP for the startup savvy), and no matter what your friendly software development company might tell you (and unless you yourself are a coder) an MVP should not be software.

Software applications, and mobile apps in particular, are complex, expensive, and difficult to iterate. These are all things that an MVP should absolutely not be.

What is an MVP?

Three essential features of a minimum viable product:

1. Simple to create.
2. Cheap to build.
3. Easy to iterate.

A true MVP should be simple, cheap enough to throw away, and easy to iterate. Maybe it’s two people in a room with a phone and a whiteboard. It’s whatever you need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that customers want what you’re selling.

That’s not to say your product won’t become software or a mobile app in time, it’s just not how it should start out.

Early-stage founders are living in a blessed age. Never has there been such an immense range of tools available to make building an MVP possible. The hard part is paring back the idea enough that it still solves part of the user’s problem without becoming too expensive to iterate.

It is highly likely that you’ll need to throw away your MVP and start again. If you’ve spent too much at the beginning, this is literally where the journey ends.

How to build an MVP.

For MVPs I’ve now used Google Sheets, Mailchimp, Airtable, Caspio, Bubble, Excel, Softr, Typeform, WhatsApp Business, and Telegram… often several platforms in combination. I’m also told Web Flow is fantastic and I’m sure there are plenty of others I should look at (any suggestions welcome!).

The image is part of the Typeform logic from one of our MVPs, which also used Airtable and Mailchimp. It took time, but it wasn't hard, we learned so much and we saved a fortune.
Typeform logic from one of our MVPs, which also used Airtable and Mailchimp.

Instead of trying to raise money for developers, spend more time identifying the crux of the user’s problem and how you solve it without writing code. This is something I’ve got wrong myself several times. Honestly, save yourself some pain!

Scalable? Hell no, but it will tell you 100% whether or not there’s a market (which in many cases there isn’t).

If you need help, let us know.

Good luck!

Image credit

– MVP featured image by Karen Lindemann.

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