Startup Weekend: What 54 Hours to Build a Minumum Viable Product (MVP) Has Taught Us
Startup Weekend is all about action-based networking. What's most important is the fact that one weekend alone can be enough time to teach entrepreneurs valuable insights about building a company, or at least a minimum viable product (MVP). MVPs are the very epitome of "done is better than perfect." There are five steps to follow, stay focused and you'll come up with something that can amaze you.
Here are some examples of successful companies that have been created during Startup Weekend:
An MVP is a product with only the minimum requirements needed to satisfy your target customers. It is later launched and presented to a group of users or early adopters who, after trying it out, will relay to you what they like and/or dislike about the product. Subsequently, you will learn about what features to add or modify by observing preliminary user interaction with your product. In other words, you are minimizing risk by learning from your users from the very get-go, without having to invest a significant amount of time and money on initial development.
Of course, since Startup Weekend only lasts 54 hours, entrepreneurs will not complete a robust product by Sunday evening. However, this event is an excellent opportunity to learn the basics about building a company, which of course includes how to build an MVP.
1. Build the Right Team
Day 1 at Startup Weekend. People start pouring into the venue, and most of them are likely strangers. The key is to build a great team by the end of the night, so all those social skills must be put into action. More importantly, you need to keep an eye open for people who will compliment your skillset. Regardless of whether you have an idea or not, building a great team is key to have a successful MVP (or business idea) by the end of the weekend. In the real world this translates into hiring the right people for your company or finding the right co-founders.
2. Validate Your Idea
Once you have an idea in mind, one with which the entire team feels comfortable with, you must "get out of the building" as one of Startup Weekend's ceremonial phrases goes. It doesn't matter if you think your idea is the next Facebook, you need to make sure there are people out there who would be willing to use your product AND pay for it.
3. Build Your MVP
Assuming that you have found a target market for your product idea, it's time to execute. You and your team are now in charge of building a product with core features --- no less, no more. Remember "done is better than perfect.”
This also applies when you are buidling a mobile version of your product. You might have a defined structure and experience for desktop, but mobile is a ‘whole different ball game’. Platforms like Kony Visualizer, an iTexico partner, can make things easier for your team to produce a working prototype.
4. Ask for Feedback
It's time to launch your product, and ask for feedback from your customers. Do they like it? How do they use it? Perhaps customers are using your product for purposes you hadn't thought of and that may be key for your next launch date. Keep your eyes and ears open; learn from user behavior and don't be afraid to directly ask users for their feedback.
5. Implement What You’ve Learned
Go back to the drawing board and make changes based on what you've learned. This whole cycle is actually part of the lean method, proposed by Eric Ries, based on the Toyota lean manufacturing model.
In the end, these 5 steps are a continuous cycle. One never really stops going through it all. However, during the 54 hours of Startup Weekend, this might end up being the beginning of a great company, or just an opportunity to build meaningful business relationships and learn something. New and seasoned entrepreneurs alike have attended these events all over the world, and have learned something new in the process!