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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 an 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 should you build an MVP first and 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 an MVP. 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 a 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, so always focus on problem No. 1.
A good example of a solo founder is Dropbox and its CEO and Founder Drew Houston. He started Dropbox back in 2007 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. Fun fact, Dropbox is still the most successful startup from YC Combinator. The first MVP he did was a 3-minute screencast on 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 and team members the same way as you pitch to investors.
Imagine that you have two founders. Both have the same idea.
- Founder I – tells you about the whole vision and what he would like to build if you join his team.
- Founder II – tells you about the vision but is already showing the first working prototype (a magic MVP) as well.
Who do you choose? Storyteller or Executor?
#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. It shows your persistence and your belief in the idea, and that you will do everything to make it happen.
Mukund Mohan an ex-Microsoft Venture Director and startup advisor and founder is giving a few examples of how much traction, that is paying customers, you need to get a serious look from an accelerator such as 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 an MVP you don’t have anything to sale.
Which bring us to the 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.
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 an 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 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! 🙂
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