Myself and 2 partners operate and work in varying roles within the Digital Marketing space. We work both on-site and remotely for small and large companies, we have what we think to be a strong, in-demand idea for a online platform. We are currently stuck on our next steps and looking for guidance. We have been told we need to create an MVP which will require us to either invest own funds in developer groups to create (none of us are talented in the developer to create), seek out a developer founder or establish proof of concept another way. We strongly wish to move our efforts from Melbourne, Australia to USA and we feel the standard of Incubator and Accelerator programs are much higher. We are looking for guidance on the next steps associated with applying for these incubators (we have done a lot of research on each of them specifically, the majority request a MVP/beta version with a couple of customers and tests already occurring). What are best to do to reach this stage?
Likely you won't like my thoughts about this.
When I give talks about business bootstrapping, I suggest people only work ideas which meet my "Sunset Rule".
Sunset Rule - You should be able to go from idea to first sale, before sunset, or best consider other ideas.
This also relates to your MVP. If you can't dream up an MVP + sell it before the sun goes down, best consider other ideas.
Years ago, I was at an Internet Marketing Party mixer in Austin, TX + sat to visit with a friend. She was down because she was starting a new business + had spent months working on a business plan + determined she required $80K to bootstrap her business + then had spent another several months looking for investors.
A buddy of mine + I sat with her for 15mins + slightly retooled her idea. She launched the next day for a one time investment of $144/year (cost of a Meetup.com account) + was generating some significant profit in a few days.
Chunk down your MVP, so you can manually make sales by the end of the day... for $0 investment + you'll know for sure you have a profitable business.
If you can't sell one unit, by the end of the day... best consider some other idea...
I'm just going to come out and say it. I don't like either of these two guys' responses. You cannot build a Minimal Viable Product without The Real MVP: the Most Valuable Problem. This is the problem that is so painful your target customers will PAY YOU to solve it.
95% of your startup business can be started, tested and figured out before a software developer is involved.
For example, a woman comes on Shark Tank to pitch her chocolate pretzel business. She's gotten her products into stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks. She now has a HUGE order to fill for the holiday season but she doesn't have the capital to fulfill the order. So she raises money from the investors to pay for manufacturing because the business is there. She's proven it.
It's possible to do the same with building a software product, too! You can get investors to pay for the development work because your success/business is all but guaranteed.
Another example: My client is not technical at all. She has a serviced based business hosting events for like-minded singles in LA & NYC. She's going on 4 years. Now, she wants to build something scalable so she decides she needs an app...but she's not sure of all the features. Through our work together, in 3 months time, I had her prototyping the business assumptions of her new venture using only her Squarespace site...no developers needed.
I'd be happy to talk to you here or you can schedule a call on my website. Best, xx
Feel free to schedule a call. I'd be happy to help you go over the idea and map out how best to make an MVP in the fastest an cheapest possibly way. I'm a mentor at several accelerators, and you're right that they'd all want some form of MVP.
Depending on the idea, there are potentially many ways to implement an MVP, some of which wouldn't require writing any code at all, and many of which would minimize the amount of code that would be needed.
I will like to add to the above and give some practical insights based on how I established my proof of concept -
Before that, first - how you plan to make money? As in is the business model geared towards acquiring users first and then monetizing or doing a trial to conversion or transaction based selling etc. Depending upon your business, you will know well which one suits at-least the initial hypothesis.
So once you have the hypothesis, the first step, research your target audience -
1. Where they engage online?
2. What they might search in Google?
If you are able to do the above, then just create 2-3 landing page testing one value proposition each - you will be able to set this up in unbounce.com, leadpages, tons of them available. Most of them give 30 day trial for the pro plans.
Run basic ads - and see if you are able to attract some initial leads.
Then try to get some detailed insights from people who have shown interest and ask them what will they pay (the pay is again based on what your model is, if it is users, you don't need to even go to the money talks)
Based on this, get the business plan done and start pitching.
This will show that you have done some ground work and understand some insights.