If you're still trying to build your tech startup and have already tried learning to code, hiring a CTO, outsourcing developers and navigating agencies that overpromise and under deliver on the build; this is for you! It sucks but it is also very common.
I hear these stories all the time. It's a waste of money as well as time. Then you've got the investors that tell everyone that they actively invest in startups but when you meet them they say "you're a stage too early" or "come back when you've got some sales" or "get traction". Plus if you're black, a woman and not a cisgender male then getting that Seed investment from Angels or VC is harder due to biases that systematically exclude these groups of people.
I say this because savvy Angel Investors and even VC's will want you to fail fast but they don't all tell you that. In exchange for the money startups take from VC's they want you to build an outstandingly big company that's extraordinarily big that will grow fast in the next 10 years and win in a given category. But that's another story.
There are tools to build your MVP with no code for the "Planning phase"
Startups are risky (only 1 in 10 success, 90% fail) and investors know this. Before parting with their hard earned cash or the cash of the LPs who have invest into their fund, many will want to see some sales numbers to learn more about your customer acquisition strategy.
In the "Planning" phase you are testing out things like whether you are solving a problem that a target segment cares about, whether you can turn anonymous visitors into customers and whether you have identified good distribution channels.
Thanks to movements shaped by Lean thinking and Design thinking, startups have learned to use validated designs from prototypes that are low to high fidelity along with insights from observational studies to give them confident of customer intent before spending money on a quality development. This whole process is about validating your whole business model, not just an idea.
All in pursuit of directly maximising revenue — not raising brand awareness or generating buzz
Don't get me wrong, I get why people think they need to hire developers. You want to build it in your own way, have all these amazing features that nobody else has thought of - I get it. But you're not in the "Execution" stage till you know where to find your target segment, can get them to try or buy and know how to cost effectively acquire them
"Learning" is all about how to do we figure out the right problem to solve and the right product to go and build because the most expensive thing we can do as a team is to commit to code, something that hasn't been validated with real customers.
A common mistake is to add too much features to your requirements
The problem is, adding features, doesn't necessarily add value and you risk confusing your potential customer. From a user experience perspective, less is more because when it's confusing it hurts sales. More on that in another post.
So now we can agree that less is more, I want you to have in mind that if you scope down your idea to its minimal version that still valuable to what your ideal customer wants and is usable (without you having to handhold them), this makes a great test for validation.
Don't add too many features, you're only costing yourself more money and time.
Instead do it like this 👇
start with a smaller yet complete product that is more desirable. It has all the appeal of a complete cake — icing and filling, etc. — but its production costs are much lower. People want a complete product, and they’ll pay for it
Commons tools that do the heavy lifting
Below is a broad spectrum of common tools that do the heavy lifting for you across 4 categories (Mobile App Builders, Website Builders, Landing Page Builders, e-Commerce Builders).
So just remember, you shouldn't be building for performance, scale or security in the "Planning" phase. Software development is the most expensive part of the development process and most people fail to build their startup because they don't build something the market wants or identify where the distribution is.
Okay so you've built it what next
That's it. Most of you want to learn how to build your MVP with no code, which is not covered in this post but if you subscribe to my newsletter I'll personally email you the content guides I'm creating on how to build different ideas.
In the future I'll continue to share lessons learned around product management, marketing and growth tactics.