Minimum viable product.

by | Oct 2022 | Build a Product

Again and again we see the same mistake from people launching their own startup. They are 100% focused on the solution they’ve dreamed up, and believe the first big step towards success is to turn that solution into software.


First, this assumption leads to all kinds of serious people problems. For example, non-technical founders believe they need a CTO. They don’t. Even if they needed software (which they don’t), they would need a software engineer, not a CTO.

All a true CTO will do, in most cases, is find a software engineer to write the software! Hiring a CTO will cost you a fortune (and/or half your company), and the truth is, you won’t need them full time for months, if not years.

If you really want software (trust me, you don’t), raise some cash and use an agency, or hire a developer, not a CTO. (Oh, and don’t give your developer the CTO title because, on the slim chance that you make it, you’ll probably need to take that title away again, which is never fun.)

But none of that matters, because you don’t want software anyway. You need a product. And not just any product. You need a “minimum viable product” (MVP). Now, a lot of people use the term MVP incorrectly. When they describe their MVP, they’re simply describing their product. This is nonsense.

What’s required, instead of simply calling your product “your MVP”, is some deep, deep thinking on this question:

What is the absolute core functionality that will go some way towards solving the problem?

Hint: it’s not a slick UI. It’s not in-app notifications. It’s not chat. It’s not “dark mode”.

Sadly there’s no shortcut to finding what it is, but in the vast majority of cases, it’s much simpler than it may first appear.

Minimum viable product illustration using vehicles
Credit: Karen Lindemann

If more founders asked themselves this question, the world would see far fewer derelict pieces of software, which nobody wants, despite them costing thousands, if not millions, of dollars to build.

Fortunately, there are all kinds of tools available now, which enable you to put together an MVP without writing a single line of code. Personally I love Airtable, Caspio, Zapier, and I’m increasingly seeing the benefits of no-code, like Bubble and even Microsoft Power Apps. You’d be amazed by how much you can do.

Such tools enable you to get something into the hands of your users MUCH faster and more cost-effectively. That means you can actually start solving the problem – in weeks, not months!

What’s more, you won’t have to spend countless hours (and dollars) discussing full-stack, dev-ops, multi-tenancy, Confluence, Jira…

And you’re far less likely to build something that costs almost as much to modify as it does to build. Because inevitably you will realise you need to make a load of changes you didn’t anticipate.

Good luck!

Image credits

– Shed photo by Mark König.
– MVP by Karen Lindemann.

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