You’re totally a top notch coder, right? If so, you should! But we don’t live in a dream world so if you’re not developer phenom, this article is for you.
We live in the golden age of Startups. This means everyone from your mother to your college roommate has the next killer idea that’s gonna make Mark Zuckerberg wanna buy your killer startup like tomorrow. Problem is, only a fraction of those would be billionaires actually know how to code.
In my 15 years of working in startups (did I just say FIFTEEN YEARS??), I’ve learned a few things about building MVPs. First, not all MVPs are created equally. Some startups have fairly simple MVPs that can be used to test demand or whether users will do what you think they’ll do. For instance, with my company We&Co, we built a simple prototype in about 36 hours.
On the other hand, maybe you’re doing some big data stuff and you’ll need millions of data points to verify your hypothesis. This MVP is considerably different than the social product just mentioned.
This leads us to whole idea behind this post: do I build it or do I buy it?
When to hire a firm or dev shop to build your MVP
- You have a sweet idea
- You have some budget
- You don’t have a technical team
- Your idea is relatively simple to test
If you checked those 4 items, you should be safe hiring an external team to help you build your MVP. Remember, you want to keep the engagement with the team as quick as possible. You want to have clear and concise goals and understand when you’ve proven/disproven your hypothesis.
When to wait on building an MVP until you have a technical co-founder or tech lead
- Is your idea sweet as hell but maybe a little complex?
- Do you use the word “algorithm” to describe it?
- Is it big data related?
If you answered yes to any of these you should seriously consider pouring all of your attention into hiring a full time part of the team rather than hire an outside team to do it. Anything complex will require multiple iterations and pivots and lots of hands on collaborative work before you get it somewhat right. This means you’ll be racking up some serious hours (read: $$$). If you insist on going this route, be wary of any dev shop that offers you a fixed bid. While that’s cheaper for you, it’s a good sign the dev shop doesn’t really understand building products like this.
About the author: TJ Muehleman is co-founder of We&Co, a mobile hiring solution for restaurants, as well as Standard Code, a digital product factory.