Many people procrastinate when starting their startup. One of the reasons why I didn’t start my first startup was looking for a team.

I was focused on finding developers to help me build “an amazing iPhone app”, do you know this feeling?

Thankfully, I changed my mind after starting the next 5 startups and I figured it out, that it was stupid to focus on finding a core team instead of building an MVP. 

After reading this post, you will have 6 strong reasons to build a MVP first, before even thinking about building a team, and what tools to use to get it done right – inspired by other founders.

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

The post will outline why it’s better to first build even a super simple MVP before building a core team for your new venture.

Why you should build a MVP first then build a core team

#1 Test Your Idea

Building a Minimum Viable Product is all about testing if your solution is needed by anybody and what potential customers want you to build.

So test, test, and test

After testing, when you see an interest from potential customers in solving the problem you are trying to nail – Try to find a team, developers, or outsource your MVP.

Even if you don’t have any technical skills at all, you can create a MVP. Just check those 5 ways to do it from my last blog post.

It doesn’t make sense to build something that you didn’t even test, right?

The process is straight-forward:

  • Show your idea to potential customers 
  • Gather feedback from them – Do they have the problem you are trying to solve? Find out what they really need. 
  • 3x Test / Pivot your idea
  • NOW -> Build an MVP 

 

#2 Building a Team Takes Time

It can take really long time to find the right people to make your idea come to life. You can always do it parallel. Using the Pareto 80/20 rule , focus 80% of your efforts on building an MVP and collecting feedback from customers – leave just 20% to find the right team members.

It will be a waste of time to NOT start building your MVP, while not having team members. Even if you find some people interested in joining forces with you – you don’t have any guarantee that they are the right fit.

According to CBInsights, 42% of startups fail, because of No Market Need.

Always focus  on  problem No. 1.

 

Top 20 Reasons why startups fail

 

A good example of a solo founder is Dropbox and its CEO/Founder Drew Houston. He started Dropbox back in 2007/8 as a solo player. He didn’t wait for others to join him and applied as a solo-founder to YC Combinator and got inside – Dropbox is still the most successful startup from YC Combinator. The first MVP he did was a 3 minute screencast on Hackernews...

 

Dropbox first MVP from Hackernews

 

#3 Figure Out What You Would Like to Build

First you start with an idea. This idea is always changing along the way when you building your product and getting feedback from customers.

The sooner you start to collect feedback from customers, the faster you get a product-market fit.

MVP is the cheapest way to gather feedback before starting to build a product. It’s the cheapest way to find out what your customers need and what you should build for them.

Remember, that your product is for customers, not for you

Don’t know how to gather feedback from your customers? Try these 6 Smart Ways to Collect Actionable User Feedback written by Misha Abasov

#4 Find the Best Co-Founders

Building a core team with an MVP is way easier. You need to pitch to your co-founders/team members the same way as you pitch to investors.

Imagine that you have two founders. Both have the same idea.

Founder 1 is telling you about the whole vision and what he would like to build if you join his team.

Founder 2 is telling you about the vision, but is already showing the first working prototype (a magic MVP) as well.

Who do you choose?

Storyteller or Executor?

how much is idea worth

#5 Get Funding

It will earn you capital.

You can show it to angel investors, accelerators, seed funds, etc. Building a working MVP without a team is a great point to invest in you.

You showing your persistence = I believe in this idea and will do everything to make it happen.

Mukund Mohan an ex-Microsoft Venture Director and startup advisor/founder is giving a few examples of how much traction/paying customers you need to get a serious look from an accelerator such a Microsoft Ventures.

If you are a B2B startup and you are expecting 5000 paying customers, in 36 months, to get seed funding you need to have 5 to 10 customers for a seed round (more is better) and at least 2-5 customers to get into a seed program. Mukund Mohan / Read more

Another thing is, that without a MVP you don’t have nothing to sale…

Which bring us to next point…

#6 Start to Sell

This is even more important than having a product. I highly recommend to each startup to start with sales the minute after you finish your MVP. If you can prove that you can sell only with a simple MVP, your solution to customer’s problems, then

  • You can choose between people, who want to be a part of your core team
  • You prove that it makes sense to build a product out of your MVP
  • You get the funding

If you don’t know how to do sales in a startup you can read more in this guide to sales and marketing for technical startup people written by Greg Skloot.

Conclusion

If you are already a founder or plan to start a new venture in the near feature, you will probably experience the dilemma of building a MVP first or core team?

Hopefully, as a result of reading this article, you now have  a sense of why I think you should build a Minimum Viable Product first. Whatever tactic you will decide to use to gather feedback from your first customers, meaning whatever you plan to build as a first MVP, just do it and stop thinking too much about building team first.

I wish you high conversion rates! 🙂

Matt Warcholinski

Matt Warcholinski is the COO of Brainhub (a software house building awesome node.js web and mobile apps) who loves to build startups and play guitar.

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