I seem to endlessly be pitching the Minimum-Viable-Product to founders, so here is my final word on why you should 100% be launching with an MVP first.
Essentially, you should start with an MVP because, frankly, your startup is probably going to fail.
Your startup is probably going to fail. Here’s why.
1. Very few major startup successes are doing the thing they started as
Twitter started as a podcasting company called Odeo. Slack was originally making an online game called Glitch. Course correction (or total pivots) is inevitable in the early days of a company. An MVP lets you test out each new direction without blowing all your funding or burning yourself out spending years on a flawed concept.
“Most successful startups end up doing something different than they originally intended — often so different that it doesn't even seem like the same company.”
– Paul Graham, Y Combinator
2. No, you don’t know your customers
Even if you think you do, you don’t. Until you’ve sold your product and seen it in the hands of your users, you don’t know your customers. An MVP is a terrific proving ground that lets you send your product into the wild and see how customers use it.
3. You’re unlikely to succeed on your first attempt
Few successful founders succeeded on their first venture. To put it bluntly, your first business will likely fail. Investors even know this, and in fact many view a failed business in a founder’s past as a positive attribute and will be _more_ likely to invest as a result.
So… it sounds like you’re just telling me my startup is going to fail?
Well, sort of – but not entirely. If we accept that failure is simply going to be a part of the journey, we can better prepare ourselves for it, and with any luck the blow won’t be quite so hard when it comes.
This is why speaking with customers early and launching as quickly as possible is vital. Put your idea through all the toughest tests you can find at the start, and if it comes out the other side you’ll know you’re really onto something – and who knows whether the business that comes out the other side will even look anything like the one that came in. That’s exactly the point.
An MVP allows you to fail fast (i.e. make mistakes quickly and painlessly) which will bring you to a successful product faster.