Questions

What is the best method for presenting minimum viable products to potential customers?

What is the best method for presenting minimum viable products to potential customers? I currently have Deck, landing page... Ultimately what will make the MVP investor ready? About: The company is a professional collaboration network that allows users who register to create a professional profile visible to others.

3answers

Whoa, start by reading the Lean book again; you're questions suggest you are making a classical mistake made by too many entrepreneurs who live and breath Lean Startup. An MVP is not the least you can show someone to evaluate whether or not building it is a good idea; an MVP is, by it's very definition, the Minimum Viable Product - not less than that.

What is the minimum viable version of a professional collaboration network in which users create a professional profile visible to others? A website on which users can register, have a profile, and in some way collaborate with others: via QA, chat, content, etc. No?

A minimum viable product is used not to validate if something is a good idea but that you can make it work; that you can acquire users through the means you think viable, you can monetize the business, and that you can learn from the users' experience and optimize that experience by improving the MVP.

Now, that doesn't mean you just go build your MVP. I get the point of your question, but we should distinguish where you're at in the business and if you're ready for an MVP or you need to have more conversations with potential users.

Worth noting, MOST entrepreneurs are ready to go right to an MVP. It's a bit of a misleading convention to think that entrepreneurs don't have a clue about the industry in which they work and what customers want; that is to say, you shouldn't be an entrepreneur trying to create this professional collaboration network if you don't know the market, have done some homework, talked to peers and friends, have some experience, etc. and already know that people DO want such a thing. Presuming you've done that, what would you present to potential users BEFORE actually building the MVP? For what do you need nothing more than some slides?

It's not a trick question, you should show potential users slides and validate that what you intend to build is the best it can be. I call it "coffee shop testing" - build a slide of the homepage and the main screen used by registered users; sit in a coffee shop, and buy coffee for anyone who will give you 15 minutes. Show them the two slides and listen; don't explain, ONLY ask....
- For what is this a website?
- Would you sign up for it? Why?
- Would you tell your friends? Why?
- What would you pay for it?

Don't explain ANYTHING. If you have to explain something, verbally, you aren't ready to build your MVP - potential customers don't get it.

Keep working with that slide alone until you get enough people who say they will sign up and know, roughly, what people will pay. THEN build your MVP and introduce it first to friends, family, peers, etc. to get your earliest adopters.

At some point you're going to explore investors. There is no "ready" as the reaction from investors will entirely depend on who you're talking to, why, how much you need, etc.

If you want to talk to investors with only the slides as you need capital to build the MVP, your investors are going to be banks, grants, crowdfunding, incubators, and MAYBE angels (banks are investors?! of course they are, don't think that startups only get money from people with cash to give you for equity). Know that it's VERY hard to raise money at this stage; why would I invest in your idea when all you've done is validate that people probably want it - you haven't built anything. A bank will give you a loan to do that, not many investors will take the risk. Still, know not that your MVP is "ready" but that at THAT stage, you have certain sources of capital with which you could have a conversation.

When you build the MVP, those choices change. Now that you have something, don't talk to a bank, but a grant might still be viable. Certainly: angels, crowdfunding, accelerators, and maybe even VCs become interested. The extent to which they are depends on the traction you have relative to THEIR expectations - VCs are likely to want some significant adoption or revenue whereas Angels should be excited for your early adoption and validation and interested in helping you scale.


Answered 6 years ago

You have asked two questions. The first is what is the best method for presenting your MVP to potential customers.

A deck and a landing page is likely insufficient for an MVP so I'd suggest that you're still in the earliest stage of customer development which is design research.

The good news is that design research is all about asking the right questions. Questions around your concept might be:
What kind of collaborative efforts are you engaged in right now that require you find new and unknown collaborators?
When seeking new collaborators or looking for new collaborative work, where do you currently look?
What are the most significant problems associated with finding new collaborative work or workers with these existing sites or platforms?
On a scale to 1-10, 10 being most painful, rate the frustration you feel from the problems associated with the current state of finding new collaborative work or workers.

From there, you know what and who to optimize your product for, assuming you get enough validation from this process to proceed to build a real MVP, and that is going to need to be more than a deck and a landing page because you need to prove that people will sign-up for this AND that business can be transacted from these profiles in order to show that this is a viable business.

There have been a number of startups that have tried but died or pivoted away from the idea of a professional profile and a number that continue to struggle so I'd caution you to really do a lot of design research including ensuring you look at everything like this past and present.

To answer what will make the MVP investor-ready, it's evidence that you can inexpensively acquire people willing to complete a profile, and that there is business that can be conducted specifically because of these profiles, and specifically through your platform with some truly minimum viable number of profiles and transactions.

Happy to talk through this in a call. This is in a related space to my company so I monitor it fairly closely.


Answered 6 years ago

Based on your question '....best method for presenting MVP to potential customers?', I'm assuming that you are yet to attract or in the process of attracting your audience. If so, I think you may be jumping the gun here. I'd say
1. Build your audience first.
2.Engage them as you build. Ask them as you build what they want. Because your 'product' is tailored to the client and almost dependent on their engagement, you have to make it more customer-centric.
Some Questions for you to think about if you haven't already:
a. How are you attracting your clients?
b. What are they looking for?
c. What will keep them engaged on your website?
d. Would they feel comfortable referring your services to their network(s)?
e. How do you ensure that they are engaged on your website?
f. What will engage them?
g. Besides a profile, will your customer help generate content that could help expand the reach of your website, i.e. Are they consumers of content or co-providers?
h. What use is another professional profile in addition to others like Linkedin? Why yours? etc

After answering these and more questions, knowing who your clients are and finding out what they 'want', your Minimum Viable Product could then become the most attractive & tangible thing/service you can offer your clients FREE of charge. Use that to grow your audience, then gradually implement revenue generating perks or additional services worth paying for.
Feel free to give me a call to further discuss this.
Cheers,
Chike


Answered 6 years ago

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