So, this is the most exciting moment, when you realize you have the greatest idea that can change this world! You know how big it could be, already have your own vision of how people are loving this product.
So here comes the question:" Okay, what's next?"
Depending on your skillset, available funds and the team there are few different routes to take. Let’s start with first.
Take a step back and really break down what you know, can do and will be able to do for this startup to the best of your abilities. There are usually two types of founder technical and entrepreneurial. Well, and the third one if you’re a rare lucky type which is a combination of both. In that case, you could even be a solo founder and bootstrap your product yourself. Otherwise, you’d ideally want to find a co-founder who is competent in what you’re not. We could do a separate article on how to find cofounders but in short, a few proven ways to find them is through websites like CoFoudnersLab, Angellist.co or going to thematic events.
The second part is finding the money. But before even looking for or securing the funds you should calculate how much you will need in the first place. Once you have at least a guesstimate of your budget you should determine whether you’ll be able to sponsor it yourself or will need outside financing. The best way is to try to minimize the budget and finance it yourself because you’ll be more considerate of your expenses. Plus, it’s more convincing for investors, when you approach them later, to see a business initially funded by the founder. It shows that you believe in your idea and are committed fully because you weren’t afraid to invest in it yourself.
And lastly, who is in your team? Most investors say that they invest in people, not in ideas. Because ideas can change. Startups pivot all the time. It’s a 100% guarantee that your initial idea is going to change if not completely then definitely in big parts. What we know today as Slack was a videogame initially. Remember with the right people you can always find the right idea.
Now, when you’ve sorted out these three main points you can finally start the process. Here are the steps to building your product:
Step 1 "Create an MVP"
What is the MVP? Most Valuable Person? Maximum Vulnerable Prank?! Nope.
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. MVP is the best way to check does your idea really have a demand? Will people use it or not? Mostly, this is a product with ONLY ONE function.
The whole point of MVP is that you should define what your app does in one sentence and create a product that does nothing else.
For example, MVP of Gmail would be only Sending/Receiving mails. Nothing else. In one sentence:
Gmail lets users send and receive emails. Did you find a “reply” feature defined in this sentence? Or “Mark as read”?
Uber lets users request a car through the app that will get them to their pre-chosen destination from their location. And that’s indeed what Uber MVP was like. You couldn’t what car is coming, who’s in it or even how long you should wait. Even the most basic features like seeing the map or canceling the requested ride, let alone the more complicated ones like carpooling or splitting the fare weren’t there in the beginning. If Uber took time to add all of them they would end wasting too much time and money on the development of an idea that wasn’t even validated.
Remember, no matter how cool your idea seems to you or even your immediate networks it’s just a hypothesis until you validate it through user engagement. And it’s applicable to both the entire idea i.e. concent and individual features. Creating a peer to peer package delivery platform might be a great concept as a whole that hits the famous product-market fit but buying airplane tickets through it might be a redundant feature in it. And you won’t know it if you include it in your MVP.
But how do you resist the urge to add all the cool features you have in mind? Our advice is to make notes about all the features you want to add, you will need them later but don’t include them in V1. Put simply MVP is the best way to check for product-market fit in the quickest and most resource-friendly way.
Step 2. Product
Once you built and tested your MVP you will know whether you need to kill your product, pivot to something else or like in rarest of cases in startups (only 5% to be precise) you have actually gained traction and it’s an obvious hit that’s growing organically beyond your control you should continue the development.
At this point, you should also decide whether you want to do in-house development of your app or want to outsource it to the development companies. We’ve written a separate article on this but put very simply it makes more sense to outsource to a company that has years of experience in development and can streamline all processes more efficiently so you only focus on growth and not building.
3. Talk to users
A lot of founders, unfortunately, neglect this step but it’s essential to get feedback from your users. Especially in the beginning when you’re operating with a smaller scale.
You should know who your real user is. If someone asks you, you should be able to describe them. For example, my typical user-id John, he is 25 years old, doing his master's degree, he spends $5k on living, has 2 brothers, etc. This will help you create user personas which is something you should have in order to understand your target audience.
Talk with them about their pain, study their pain, and think about how to solve it through your product.
And don’t get caught up with only your own feedback. Remember that you’re building your app for the user, not just yourself.
Once you have enough feedback you keep reiterating and making new releases. At this point, you should already be decided with your team, whether it’s in-house or outsourced. Like said above, we recommend outsourcing the development to streamline the work and be able to focus on marketing and growth. Managing an in-house team is a work of its own and is not something you as a founder should be focusing on.