If you’re in the tech startup space, you’ve heard it a thousand times: “build something people want.” You’ve also seen this a million times: 90% of startups fail. It’s not always because the startup didn’t build something people wanted, but that is very often the core reason any startup fails. If you can’t get customers, your business will die. And, quite often, it seems like companies like Instagram, Mailchimp, Basecamp, Uber, and others just nailed it the first time. They didn’t. We’re just experiencing “the one that worked”, because all of these companies pivoted multiple times. The question is, how do you get to that one that works? The simple answer is trial and error, also known as building small, cheap versions of your service and testing them to the nth degree.

How much does it cost to build my MVP?

No offense to dev shops, but anyone who has tried to pay a shop to build out their MVP or prototype has experienced this kind of service. Basically, we’re gonna take all your money to build your first rev of your product, and you’ll have nothing left to actually take it to market. Doesn’t work, wont’ work, can’t work.

Build, test, learn, repeat

Instead, building the very least version of your product (often literally just a landing page that may or may not take some money) is the cheapest way to see if your idea will float at all. If it floats a little, now you have some users or customers to talk to about what to build onto it next. Mailchimp was started as an email design service. Instagram was originally “Burbn let users check in at particular locations, make plans for future check-ins, earn points for hanging out with friends, and post pictures of the meet-ups.” In other words, their first rev was not what you see today. It was not “the one that worked”.

For startups, there is no silver bullet

We have seen it time and time again. I’ve done it. I took way too much time to build and build and build “the perfect product” instead of iterating constantly with cheap, crappy versions of what your customers actually say they want. The Startup Development Institute is helping startups start small with their ideas. Rather than blowing thousands of dollars on the wrong version of a product, build, test, learn, and repeat.

 

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