Big News: FounderDating is joining OneVest to build the largest community for entrepreneurs. Details here
Latest Notifications
You have no recent recommendations.
Name
Title
 
MiniBio
FOLLOW
Title
 Followers
FOLLOW TOPIC

Question goes here

1,300 Followers

  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur

MVC - Minimum Viable Company: what does a minimum viable team look like for a tech startup?

What does a startup team look like that maximizes the odds of getting a viable product to market at minimal cost (risk)? Every startup must have 2 things: product and customers. One you build the other you acquire. My hypothesis is every startup must have a minimum of 2 skill sets: development (product) and sales (customer acquisition). So why do we see so many tech startups with only dev skills and no selling experience? Does a MVC also require a designer?

Anecdotally, I spend what time i can spare at a local incubator / co-working space. There are about 30 tech startup teams (mostly 1 or 2 people) working hard to get a product out and get traction. Only a small fraction of these teams have any co-founders with skills (experience) other than development.

23 Replies

Linda Marshall-Smith
1
0
Linda Marshall-Smith Entrepreneur
Marketing Consultant, Ambassador, Silicon Beach at CoFoundersLab
Rob, as a marketing person, I could not agree more. What I see happening with a lot of start up founders, is that they have a great idea, but they've not done any market validation to see if there is a demand for it. One example in particular: a team spent a year developing a product, even hiring a lawyer in steps to get a provisional patent on it, only to find out -- after a year in -- that there was someone else out there marketing a very similar -- almost identical product. They cut losses at that point, but had they done their market due diligence from day one, they would not have wasted time and financial resources on this idea.

That being said, after market validation proves successful, then what's the point of having the best product in the world, if no one knows about it. I believe that a marketing/sales/biz dev person should definitely be involved from the MVP stage to create a MVC. Bottom line: Marketing = traction.
Kate Hiscox
3
2
Kate Hiscox Entrepreneur • Advisor
Boss at Venzee
These are great points. I see way too many conversations about non-technical co founders and how technical co founders are more valuable etc. This couldn't be more wrong - both are of equal value. The web is littered with well engineered apps and solutions that failed due to lack of validation and traction which generally come by having non-tech co founders.

Thomas Jay
2
3
Thomas Jay Entrepreneur
iOS / Server Architect / IoT / BLE / iBeacon / Apple Pay
Getting an MVP should not be the hard part, get a couple of guys together and build the product. If its a mobile app you just need a good developer and a graphics person, add in someone with some marketing and you can get a product out.

Building the MVP is just the start. How to get traction is the next step.

Getting users and monetizing is always the hurdle for me.

When I talk with people who want to "Start a business" (which is about 10 times a week lately), I always recommend building a mockup with detailed wire frames, do this with a developer.

Get a graphics person involved day one, get their input, they are as important as the developer, maybe more since they will help drive lots of the product and marketing if done well.

A developer has much less value then the business and graphics side now days.

Before it was all about a product, now its all about first impression.

Incubators are a waste of my time, I feel an MVP should be able to be created in a couple of weeks and if it requires $100K to get started, something is wrong, spend a couple of days together and get things going. Back end systems only take days to build, mobile apps only take days to build.

If there is a solid business idea and there are one or two solid people who both have passion for the idea then all is well.

What, two people with Passion? Yes this is where I feel most startups fail to be a "Minimum Viable Team". Just because person has an idea and someone else agrees to help work on it (normally for money at some point) this does not make a "Team".

Its very hard to make this work.

Don't expect a co-founder to be around for years with any money.

My recommendation - Spend a weekend together and get something done. Spend a second weekend together and wrap it up. If this does not work then your trying to do too much or you need more information, maybe your not ready to start the business and get the MVP out.


Kate Hiscox
3
0
Kate Hiscox Entrepreneur • Advisor
Boss at Venzee
I don't agree on the 'incubators are a waste of time' comment. We went through 500 startups and if you work the relationship, it opens a lot of doors in terms of recruitment, investors, customers, feedback and promotions from just about any company you could think of. Accelerator money is expensive, no doubt, but you work it back in other ways including tens of thousands of dollars of credits from solutions you'll probably need.

But before any of that... validation, validation, validation.
Thomas Jay
0
0
Thomas Jay Entrepreneur
iOS / Server Architect / IoT / BLE / iBeacon / Apple Pay
Sorry, I did not mean they are a waste of time, I have made lots of connections with two incubators in the paste and it was well worth the time.

I mean that at this time in my career it would not benefit me to get involved again. I see most of these offer a small income and take a percentage of the company but they provide access and training that is worth giving up some stock.

I have made over $3M in the last 10 years, more then I did working for major companies the previous 10 years and the majority directly from start-ups (Bonus, Stock Sell from acquisitions, etc.) I can not complain.

But at this time in my career I need to fail fast and only spend a couple of weeks on a project before I commit and invest or walk away.

I have a solid income from iTunes from over 30 of my own apps so I don't need that monthly income anymore.

I can and do invest time and money but I'm very focused and look more for "Team" then the product but passion is the number one thing that must be there from everyone.
Sean McBeth
5
0
Sean McBeth Entrepreneur
Chief Technology Officer at Highland Fundraising Solutions, LLC
"So why do we see so many tech startups with only dev skills and no selling experience?"

My own anecdatum is that I see a lot of startups with selling experience but no dev skills. They put up a landing page that spams you into signing up for their MailChimp newsletter, then if they ever get around to actually releasing a product, it's a piece of garbage.

I think, if you're sitting in incubators or coworking spaces, you've specifically selected yourself into an environment that appeals to developers, and your observation will naturally follow. Coworking spaces are places of doing. In my case, my selection bias is because I read Hacker News and Reddit. Link aggregator sites are places of telling. Of course that is what we see.

So why are so many teams inadequate in some area, whether it is sales or development or design or legal or marketing or operations? Because everyone only knows what they know how to do, and we've all been told, "if you build it, they will come." What is "it"? We're never told. No, scratch that, we're told it's whatever your "passions" are that you're supposed to "follow". Our popular media reinforces the idea that all that is necessary is perseverance inside ones own sphere of influence.

Most people, regardless of background, aren't very aware of the role the advertising plays in their decision-making. We all like to think that we make our decisions based on merit. A lot of people have business ideas that don't go anywhere. They might even write massive business plans and talk to their friends about it, because they heard somewhere that that is how you start a business. For a developer, however, we can actually *do* something about our ideas. So take the normal naivete towards success of the masses and add the ability to actually build and you end up with a lot of 1-star projects on Github.

There is a joke in Computer Science that somewhere in Russia there is a kid who wrote a program that proved the P=NP conjecture on his Cold-War era PC clone, and just never knew what he did to tell anyone about it.

So few people know what it takes outside of their own skill set to be successful in business. It's a whole Venn diagram of skills that have to intersect to find that way. If you're in one bubble, you might only see a few of the other bubbles and not the whole set.

That said, what is that set? I think there are certain *jobs* that need to be done, no matter what, but who will do that job is really going to be up to the specific people you have. I know developers who are excellent salesmen, have a good eye for design, and have the hustle to spam the tech press enough to get on top of the ever growing startup pile. In the early stages, they aren't going to need *anyone*. There are three major tasks of sales:

1) get new people in the door. This is obviously marketing.
2) get them to buy. This is obviously sales.
3) and get them to come back for more. I think this is doing a good job of whatever you're selling. In tech startups, that's development. It'd be different if you were in a service industry. Regardless, you get people to come back for more by giving them more than what they expected.

If you're doing a startup, I think you have to do all the jobs yourself at some point, or else you won't know how to hire for it. You won't know what all the jobs are, even. Or else you end up in the situation you've described, either without anyone running sales, or nobody doing good job of it. It's when the whole thing grows bigger than you, that's when you need to find people. And you'll know who you need to find. You'll know, "I suck at making things people understand, maybe I should hire a copy-writer." Or you'll see, "I'm exposing myself to a lot of risk with all this user data, maybe I should have a lawyer review my TOS".

The only time I would consider partnering with someone is if we both know each other well and we both are confident that the other is particularly skilled within their wheelhouse, and that our skills complement each other. But Paul Graham told everyone you *have* to have a cofounder. He meant that you need to build to the point where you have that person you can trust. But a lot of people are putting the cart before the horse on this issue. They have no clue what the work takes, so they just stick a name in the slot. Of course they fail.
Carey Ransom
0
0
Carey Ransom Advisor
Chief Exploration Officer at Payoff
Rob, I totally agree with you that both are needed for a true MVC. And that it is often not the case that both exist in the founding team.
Fred Pierce
0
0
Fred Pierce Entrepreneur
"Helping to build great companies...one hire at a time since 1985."™
For over three decades I've watched/observed all the afore mentioned scenarios/suggestions and have witnessed success and failure grow out of each scenario. The winning formula, as best I can tell, is for there first to be a real need (in some instances the market does not yet exists).

After confirming need, explore solutions, paying close attention to the simplest (can't keep papers together...bend a wire a few times, and call it a paper clip). From this point forward it seems the next step is to confirm yet again market value for such a solution, then build working prototype/model/program while continuing to test potential markets (beta customer, trial runs, etc) while keeping a close eye on what it will cost to deliver.

It always seems to be at this point the branding and messaging begins. By this time there is normally a technical person in the loop and someone who understands the nature of marketing and sales...could be a founder or could be anyone else who also agrees to the potential of the solution and sees the potential for a big win.

It's at this point, if all the above have happened, that I'm interested in drilling down into the details of the deal. The question I ask myself is "How easy will it be to attract A+ caliber talents to the team?" and depending on the answer I am sometimes willing to consider stock in lieu of fee to help assemble the rest of the critical core team, board, etc. However, what I've found is the better the likelihood of success the less founders are willing to such a deal...There's nothing like having a little skin in the game to keep your focus.
Thomas Jay
0
0
Thomas Jay Entrepreneur
iOS / Server Architect / IoT / BLE / iBeacon / Apple Pay
I think this is a great thread. It points out where there are miss-aligned ideas between technical and nontechnical folks.

I joined Founder Dating to meet people with cool ideas but needed that technical side to complete their MVP.

I don't put money in start-ups any more but I'm always willing to put time in when there is an idea I can get behind.

I'm very app focused as well as server side but now there has been so many discussions about how to work with people and what is needed I do not see about actually working together.

I really wanted FD to work and to see people actually meet but I think I now accept that will not happen, the recommendations have no meaning to me.

No one ever responds what I send them messages.

I would love to hear more about how people meet this MVC Team, how they worked together, how they got over issues.

Most important how they found each other!




Abel Henry, SPHR
0
0
Abel Henry, SPHR Entrepreneur
Director, Talent Management at CineMassive Displays
By its nature a seed is a simple homogeneous construct with the ability to spawn complex heterogeneous systems. A founding team is just the seed of its possible outgrowth. Therefore, I am not surprised that it initially consists of very similar parts. Its an issue if it fails to grow in complexity appropriate to its opportunities.
Join FounderDating to participate in the discussion
Nothing gets posted to LinkedIn and your information will not be shared.

Just a few more details please.

DO: Start a discussion, share a resource, or ask a question related to entrepreneurship.
DON'T: Post about prohibited topics such as recruiting, cofounder wanted, check out my product
or feedback on the FD site (you can send this to us directly info@founderdating.com).
See the Community Code of Conduct for more details.

Title

Give your question or discussion topic a great title, make it catchy and succinct.

Details

Make sure what you're about to say is specific and relevant - you'll get better responses.

Topics

Tag your discussion so you get more relevant responses.

Question goes here

1,300 Followers

  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
Know someone who should answer this question? Enter their email below
Stay current and follow these discussion topics?