How To Save Tons Of Time & Money Launching Your Minimum Viable Product - Neutech, Inc.
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How To Save Tons Of Time & Money Launching Your Minimum Viable Product

If we were gathered around a campfire, sharing well-worn stories of tech, I would lean into the crackling flames and tell you about minimum viable products and how Instagram started as an app for whiskey and bourbon drinkers.

It was called Burbn!” I’d say. “The founder had no formal computer programming training!”

We’d all nod in awe that something so small and niche could become a now ubiquitous app with 2.35 billion users. 

What can we learn from Instagram’s journey from minimum viable product (location and photo sharing bourbon app) to an industry-dominating platform? 

Don’t try to build the enterprise solution from day one

Our clients come to us with great ideas for products, but the public isn’t always ready for those great ideas. Or maybe they want those great ideas delivered in a slightly different format.

That’s why we steer our clients away from starting with an enterprise solution. An enterprise solution is one that can accommodate, like, 500 million users simultaneously and – unsurprisingly – building a platform that can support that many people takes a lot of time and money.

It sucks to put a ton of time and money into something that you’re not 110% sure your audience wants or needs. Friends don’t let friends spend $$$$$ without proof of concept. Click To Tweet

Release your belief that you know exactly what your users want

I’ve seen tons of startups build awesome software that scales and is beautiful … that no one wants to buy. So now the startup has spent all that money and time and can’t pivot because they ran out of cash to make it something that people actually want.

That’s why we swear by the approach of starting small, finding your product market fit, getting traction, asking for feedback, and then iterating as necessary.

Often, your product will end up being completely different than what you’d originally intended – and that’s okay! 

  • When Twitter / X launched in 2005, it was a network called Odeo for people to find and subscribe to podcasts and share audio content.
  • Groupon started as a consumer activism website called “The Point.”
  • Photo-sharing site Flickr got its start as an online role-playing game called Game Neverending which allowed the users to interact with each other, buy and build items. The game later included a photo-sharing tool which became the most popular with the existing users.

Instead, build a minimum viable product (MVP) using tools that will allow you to stay lean on the budget and adapt fast.

“What are these tools that will let me stay lean!?” you ask. Great question!

Allow me to share a metaphor: coding is like an onion; there are many layers.

On the outer layers of the onion, you’ve got no-code or low-code platforms like Bubble, Outsystems, and Webflow, that allow you to build and iterate a product visually. They offer a very low learning curve and manage lots of the deployment complexities for you and allow you to change things pretty quickly, on the spot.

All that comes down to one thing in terms of product development: adaptability. The outer layer of the onion is made of tools that won’t scale well (or economically). But! These tools allow you to shorten the time between user feedback and product adaptation to hours instead of weeks. That’s their super power.

Once you move to the inner layers you’d get tools, frameworks and programming languages that allow you to have finer control over aspects of your product. So this “journey to the core” brings power and freedom from the limits of a no-code/low-code setup. It allows teams to create more tailored solutions, better UX, faster apps, and, in general, develop a killer solution for a problem.

This power comes with serious responsibility,  though. It’ll take longer to build and, thus, it’ll be more expensive. We advise our clients to use these tools once they know that people will buy their product and changes can happen at a slower pace.

The core of the onion is where engineering gets hardcore. When you reach this point you start to trade off technical complexity for things like performance, scalability, fault tolerance, data federalization, self healing, and auto tuning.

Companies typically do so by dividing the projects in multiple subprojects and assigning them to different teams, which will bring the best tools for each.

Here’s the good news: When you’re launching a minimum viable product, you can use low-code or no-code frameworks - which are (relatively) fast and affordable. Click To Tweet

Venn diagram about how people use apps

Very often how a client THINKS their audience will use a product and how the audience ACTUALLY uses the product are two very different things. Click To Tweet
Once we’ve figured out how your audience actually uses your product and validated demand with 250k-500k users, we rebuild the core product using a lower-level scalable stack like React Native, while retaining the ability to iterate quickly. Clever, right?

Here’s the process we recommend (and use with our clients) to create MVPs quickly and affordably:

  • Start with the design – because no matter the size of the product, design matters.
  • Build the MVP with a low-code framework like Bubble – faster turnaround time, lower price point.
  • Get user feedback on the MVP and then iterate based on that feedback.
  • THEN, once you have the right product-market fit (usually 250k – 500k users) you rebuild with a programming stack that’s easier to scale – like the MERN stack, for example.
Using higher-level programming languages in your MVP will save you tons of time and money + allow you to iterate quickly and easily. It’s the difference between turning a speedboat vs. an oil tanker. Click To Tweet

And if you or your company needs help designing or developing a new project. I’d love to connect! You can grab a spot on my calendar here.

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