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So you want to build a high growth web startup? Part 2

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by Startacus Admin

Build your MVP
Now that you have your prototypes and the ability to turn this into an actual product (via your technical cofounder or your building your mvpnew found coding skills), you can get started with your MVP, which stands for Minimum Viable Product.

I must insert a confession here: I am terrible at sticking to the ‘minimum’ part of the MVP – whether as product manager or developer, I always seem to build something with too many features, which results in a long development process and burns up a lot of cash.

Ideally, you will be more disciplined than me, and will be able to build something in around 3-6 months that you can use to obtain your first users, validate the majority of your assumptions and perhaps even generate some revenue!

When building your MVP, make sure you do things the easy way wherever possible. Write it in language that offers a great development framework (for the web this will probably mean Ruby on Rails or Django), use Twitter Bootstrap or Zurb Foundation as the basis of your web UI, host it on your PaaS of choice, and use SaaS offerings whenever possible (for things like transactional email, payment processing, etc). In the last few years, mobile app development has also seen a raft of services that help to reduce development time – like Kinvey, Stackmob, etc.

As soon as you can, get people using your product. However, be careful of reading too much into their feedback. Jason Fried of 37signals suggests that there are only two people whose feedback you should listen to: people who have just paid for your service and people who have just cancelled. Everyone else’s opinions might be interesting, but they don’t answer either of the two most important questions any business has:

  • Which bit of your marketing worked - i.e. why did the new user signup?
  • Which bit of your product sucks – i.e. why did the existing user cancel?

Equally, try to move to an evidence-based approach to adding functionality as soon as possible. Use A-B testing to refine your UI and become an obsessive user of services like Google Analytics and KISSmetrics to figure out how people are interacting with your new application’s functionality. Many of the best online services pivoted on the basis of user-behaviour – Instagram was going to be a competitor to FourSquare before they figured out that they could build a billion-dollar business ‘simply’ by focusing on their photo filters.

Craig returns next week with Part three and cheers again to Craig for this awesome content! Craig can be followed on Twitter @lefthandme and also via @StorkUp

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Published on: 7th May 2013

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