You don't need that to ship a MVP
Published 5 min read
👋 Welcome to another edition of the ProductFoundry newsletter!
Every Monday, I send out a newsletter covering a topic and practical tips to help you build greatness into your SaaS, from metrics, strategy, new technologies, and customer engagement, to market research (and more).
This week’s topic is your MVP doesn’t need everything you think it needs.
PLUS! At the bottom, I announce my “Boring SaaS Business” experiment.
What you’ll learn this week:
- Is two years a magic number for SaaS growth?
- All the things people often think an MVP needs but don’t
- The essentials an MVP does need
🔹 This week’s insight 👉 Is two years a magic SaaS milestone?
In the SaaS world, there are some key milestones for growth everyone talks about.
- Becoming ramen profitable (aka you make enough to feed yourself each month)
- Hitting various MRR & ARR milestones (popular ones $1k/mo and $100k/year)
But the number of customers (or logos in the B2B) world is less talked about.
This thread by Jason Cohen of WP Engine is a fascinating read because it highlights another milestone. When can you expect rapid growth?
Many factors contribute to rapid growth (aka hockey stick growth), but a significant factor is having enough customers talking about you. For Jason, it took 24 months to get to 1k B2B customers. The thread has many others voicing in and anecdotally sharing similar timeframes.
Is 24 months the average time it takes? We’ll see because, in the thread, Jason will be teaming up with others to do a more extensive survey. I can’t wait.
🔹 You don’t need that to ship an MVP
This weekend I tweeted a list of things you don’t need to include in an MVP.
I put this out there because, as I’ve mentioned, as entrepreneurs, we often set the bar too high for what’s needed to prove there is a business.
So, let’s dig in and discuss what you don’t need (before we talk about what you do need).
🔸 You don’t need a unique idea & all the features you can imagine
One of the first mistakes many potential founders make is thinking their startup has to have a hyper-unique idea. The truth is, there are copies of businesses everywhere.
It’s actually a good thing to copy an idea.
Because creating a new market is extremely hard, and the first-mover advantage often doesn’t pan out.
- Your idea won’t be an identical copy anyhow. It’ll be yours, with your take.
- And while we’re talking about ideas, since your goal with an MVP is to test the market and determine how it responds, you do not need all the features you’ve already come up with. Figure out the core, ship it, and nothing more.
🔸 Ship the core concept of your MVP, skip all the small stuff you can add when it’s needed
An MVP only needs a few things for the market to tell if they want more.
Your MVP does not need any of the following to prove there’s a market for it:
- Password reset — do it manually and wait till too big of a support pain.
- Or even passwords — you could use a Magic Links approach.
- Billing — if you start with a free trial, you’ve bought yourself a few weeks before you need to charge a credit card.
- A great design — if the idea is cool, then a lousy design will work for an MVP, but it’s easy to ship a good design by default with things like Tailwind UI.
- Unit Tests — once you have some free or paid users, add them.
- A fancy logo or favicon — Use your name as a logo.
You get the point. A lot of the stuff an MVP needs is only stuff an established and growing product needs.
Remember, the goal of your MVP is to learn what the market wants and for you to figure out how to connect to them. Once it’s shipped, keep iterating.
🔸 You don’t need the latest craze (AI and ChatGPT) or the latest tech
I’m not saying don’t use AI or ChatGPT. I’m just saying don’t suffer from FOMO by not using AI in your SaaS.
As I’ve said before, be strategic in how you use AI, and best yet, apply AI to augment users in your SaaS that isn’t AI-focused. It’s focused on some other market pain you’ve seen.
If you have an idea about AI, that’s great, but plenty of great ideas don’t require AI as the core feature. Use it, but use it sensibly (and you probably don’t need it in your MVP!
This same concept goes for using the latest framework in [pick your dev stack of choice].
🔹 The Boring SaaS Business Experiment
Starting today, I’m launching a new experiment. Three things inspired me:
- Everyone constantly chasing the next boom (Crypto, NFTs, and now AI and ChatGPT)
- Everyone repeatedly failing to launch because they chase random tech and features they don’t need
- Everyone constantly failing to launch because they forget about marketing
- (and fourth 😅 my desire to have a couple of small bets and diversify my future)
So to put my money (really my time) where my mouth is, I’m launching two new SaaS.
You read that right. I’m launching not one but two B2B SaaS from the ground up.
🔸 Here are the rules
- Launch two B2B SaaS in two entirely different markets.
- To show it’s not a market thing but a boring SaaS thing.
- I’ll follow the principles in this newsletter: lean MVPs, focus on reach and learnings, etc.
- I won’t share the businesses on Twitter or the Newsletter to prove you don’t need an established audience (not that my audience is all that huge 😂)
- They’ll launch in one month (because I have a day job, this newsletter, and it’s two startups, not just one. Otherwise, I’d say two weeks).
- Aka, these will be side-hustle starts - nights and weekends.
- I can pivot! The goal is to let my learnings lead me after all.
- I’ll share the play-by-play weekly.
- What I did, how I’m doing it, what I’m spending, and all the wins (users and sales) and failures (churn and mistakes).
- Timeline - 1 year starting today, March 27th, 2023
- For one of them to hit $5k ARR and the other to hit at least $1k ARR
- To sell the smaller one on Acquire.com
🔸 So what am I building?
I need code names for each one… so I will go with bird names. (Both are birds that, now that spring is arriving, are birds that have returned to the lake I live on.)
🔸 Project Osprey
- This is an API product. I’ve always wanted to create an API data product.
- The market focus is on security researchers, but there are a few other use cases.
- I already bought the domain (this is the way)
🔸 Project Coot (short for American Coot)
- This is a hosting product. My first startup was a web hosting company. (This is not that.)
- It’s a B2B hosting play. There are a couple of interesting use cases to chase. But importantly, one I just heard someone complaining about recently.
- I already bought the domain (this is the way)
This is going to be a lot of fun…
🔹 Want more?
Read what a reader shared about Issue 9, Builders are Gonna Build. I’ll be following these principles in the Boring SaaS Business Experiment.
Today’s newsletter was lit 🔥 As a technical founder, I tend to avoid validation. But it’s so important to ensure you’re not coding for nothing. Thanks for the concrete examples and ways to measure the validation.
Perhaps share it with a friend who needs to hear this?
Forwarding an email or sharing a link is simple and helps me a lot. Hopefully, it’ll help your friend as well! 🙂
— Bryan Smith, @OrionSeven
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