The TownhallBusiness

The importance of building your MVP (most viable product)

By John C. Baldwin 

There are a few terminologies first time founders immediately hear when venturing into the tech ecosystem. Terms like VCs, equity, unicorn, valuation, and MVP or minimum viable product. 

There is a lot of hype when founders release their MVP. Originally, I spent a lot of time focusing on this because it was our showcase. It was our way of building anticipation around our release, generating a customer base, and demonstrating to investors that the market wants and needs our products and services.  

Keith and I met to discuss what the MVP should verify. At first, we thought we should simply create a mailing list and showcase that we had people awaiting the release of our product. I also researched how other startups produced their MVPs. 

Founders, like myself, spent quite a bit of time focusing too much on the features and what they wanted to show off. While I understand critics’ position on just creating something, I would like to push founders to think big picture – what are you attempting to authenticate through your MVP? This can truly vary depending on your business. Hear me out. 

If you’re creating a platform that allows local artists to showcase their music and connect with fans, then creating a fan frenzy would be a great approach. A waitlist will demonstrate that fans are tired of mainstream artists and want something more curated and timeless along the lines of music 30 – 40 years ago. 

On the other hand, if you’re in health tech and want to assist consumers with finding affordable yet effective herbal alternatives, your MVP could include a questionnaire and recommendations based on responses. 

Remember, “viable” simply means “practical,” and has the ability to expand, grow, and adapt. This is simply an introduction to your business. It can change and more than likely will. FENDR continues to change. As it should.  

One of the first things I promised when I decided to share my journey was honesty. I was too caught up with the big picture — how I envisioned FENDR down the road. That is a roadblock many first-time entrepreneurs make. It is great to have that vision and investors want to know where you see your business going. However, when building your MVP, it will look nothing like that. 

Keith balances me out. He’s practical and detail oriented. While there are some similarities, our way of thinking makes our partnership align. Find a CTO that aligns with your vision but honest enough to step in when he sees you need them. Keith is the technical guy that not only builds but can figure out complex mathematical equations like no one I’ve met. He immediately took charge and asked a series of questions:  

  • What are you trying to accomplish through the MVP? 
  • What’s the most effective way of doing it?  
  • What’s the budget? 

I will not bore you with every question he asked. However, I wanted to model the importance of having a co-founder that can get you out of your own way. 

After we discussed what the MVP should confirm, Keith worked relentlessly to get it where it is now. We’re currently on the 3rd iteration of the product. What we’re showcasing is literally what we’re attempting to do – collect the necessary information for accident victims to secure all the necessary services needed after an accident. 

Victims typically forget pertinent information as time progresses. Our website secures the information and allows them to upload their police report. Currently, we have limited the number of pictures and information customers are able to upload to ensure their privacy is protected.  

Think of your MVP as the world’s introduction to your business. It also serves as a test run to get a sense of your users’ reception and perception of the product. Carefully, think of your end goal. With enough emails, you can generate a buzz and create offerings and sneak peeks. 

With FENDR, we would like users to test our tools and reach out to us about their current insurance premiums, especially if they have been in an accident.  

When you have a moment, feel free to check ours out here. Tweet me your thoughts. I also would like to learn more about your experiences in dealing with the insurance company after an accident. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @THEJohnCBaldwin.

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John C. Baldwin

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