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9 tips for non-tech founders to launch the right MVP today

Jan 17, 2023

Few weeks ago I posted an article to reddit that kind of went viral.

It became number 1 post of the month under startups subreddit and gained around 100k views. It’s also in the top ten posts this year.

I’m really grateful to help so many non-tech entrepreneurs around the world to avoid the mistakes that I see so often working with early-stage founders.

My name is Igor.

I’m CTO at a cozy startup studio Paralect. We’ve launched 30+ startups, including unicorns.

I’m on the mission to enable everyone from our community to build one million dollar startups.

Here’s what this post is about:

The meaning of MVP changed drastically over the last few years.

From the tech perspective, no-code tools (and technology and general) become simple and accessible. So everyone, including you, can build today.

From the funding perspective, you’re no longer can raise stupid money for just an ambitious idea. Now you have to build a product and show solid traction to raise funds during the economic downturn.

If you’re just starting your startup, don’t rush into building from the day one.

Here’s the few tips that will help you to launch your MVP time and cost effectively today.

It’s me voicing over this article on YouTube

First things first,

Launch a landing page

Focus on copywriting to make your offer and value proposition right and clear.

Forget about fancy designs and animations — you don’t need it yet.

What you need is a link, a page that you can share with your potential customers to start getting their feedback and collecting their emails.

Spark their interest, make them want to buy from you.

Use simple tools to host your page, like Notion, Super, Webflow, Tilda, yep.so, popsy.. or dozens of others.

The tool doesn’t matter. But the simpler is the better

Once you launched your landing page and collected the few emails, now it’s time to

Decide on a single feature that you need to build

Your goal is to come up with one must-have stupid-simple workflow that you can show to your early customers and immediately give them value.

Now it’s time for the harsh truth: most of your brilliant ideas will fail.

But the more you talk with your customers, the more chances you have not to fail.

So stay lean, stay small, stay tiny. The more you build the more legacy you have and the slower you move.

Learn about micro-products and “side product led growth”.

Now your question should be: “Ok, Igor, and how do I build the product?”

And my answer is: “You’re not ready to build the product yet”.

Design a UI prototype

Preferably do it yourself for free.

But if you hire a designer to help, don’t spend more than $2k+ on them.

You still too early and have huge chances of failure.

Here’s the thing: text and verbal conversations are too vague and difficult to interpret. One statement can mean 2 completely different things in 2 different minds. That’s perfectly OK.

But when we’re talking about the visual design, we’re effectively discussing the future product. So we can ask specific questions.

Also the design process will help you to gain clarity. You’ll spot a lot of small details that you missed up to this point.

Use the pieces of design on your website to continue iterating and validating your offer.

Once you’ve done with a UI prototype, now it’s time to

Validate, Promote and Sell

Show your prototype on calls with potential customers.

Pitch less and listen more.

Your goal is to ensure that you solved their problem, that the workflow you created is simple and straightforward, that they excited and can’t wait to use your product.

Use the bits of your conversations to improve the offer on your landing page. Include people quotes as testimonials. Attach the screenshots of the prototype that worked well during the calls.

Turn your landing page into the machine that converts visitors into customers.

Remember: early marketing is tough, it’s mainly a direct personal outreach. So stay consistent.

Once you validated your idea and your website converts, now you’re finally ready to build.

Set the strict deadline to launch your MVP

Target one to two month max within $30k budget.

There are few exceptions, like Fintech or HealthTech products with severe regulations. But for the majority of products, like 99%, it’s a viable timeline and budget (if you’re serious about limiting the scope).

No matter who you hire. Whether it’s a tech-cofounder, a team or an agency — make sure you’ve set the deadline and they committed to deliver in time.

But don’t build everything.

Work manually first

You still have big chances of failure, until the first users use and pay for you product.

So take all the features that you can handle manually out of the build scope.

The wrong automations will significantly slow you down and lock you in tech forever.

So don’t think it’s lame. Do operations manually, then write a playbook and only then consider an automation.

Hire a virtual assistant to follow your playbooks, rather than hiring a developer to automate.

And only once you completely exhausted from the manual work

Use no-code tools to automate

Use tools like Zapier or Make, Airtable, Webflow, Typeform, Tally, Sendgrid and others.

You’ll save time and money and it will make you completely independent from the engineering team.

You won’t get the perfect UX — just accept it. You don’t need it early. The done is always better than perfect.

You can build a no-code pipeline that will cost you zero dollars.

To control the delivery of your MVP

Ask your tech team to show you demos weekly

It should be an actual product demo. Not a design or written update; not some weird tool with smart language that you can’t understand.

You need to be able to access your product, click it through and send it to your customers.

If you don’t see the demos regularly I can assure you 100% — you won’t release in time.

Also ask your team to record video demos via Loom or similar app. It will save you time on calls and you’ll have a link you can share around.

Now you have control over delivery.

Here’s the last tip, but very important one.

Set the goal for your launches and visualize metrics.

Without set specific targets and defined metrics, you’ll get into endless “building and guessing” mode.

You should avoid this at all costs.

Select the few main metrics that matters for your product the most and check them daily.

These metrics should be traction related — it’s something that you’ll discuss with your future investors a lot.

The typical metrics would be: number of views; conversion rate to trial; conversion rate to paid user; number of actions performed; percentage of users that performed some action X times; number of partners signed; average time spent on the page, etc.

Use free simple tools to track the metrics: Google Sheets, AirTable, Amplitude, Mixpanel, Splitbee, Retool, Metabase or dozens of others.

And that’s it.

Now you know how to validate your product, when to build it and how to track the progress.

I hope you learnt something new today. And I wish you all the best with your startup.

Stay consistent as there’s no easy wins.

It’s a long journey ahead, so don’t forget to have fun.

If you want us to help you to build your $1m startup - reach out to me and tell me about your progress, I’d love to hear that.

Have a great day!

🔥 Build your startup with Paralect.