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We have the Product mapped out. How do we find (inexpensive) help in building the MVP?

We're in the midst of the ultimate startup dilemma- we don't know how to code!

What advice or resources would you suggest we go to for help with building an MVP? We have a good foundation as far as a product roadmap, user personas, etc. Now, we just need one planned component in our product to actually function so we can get feedback.

  1. If you're a non-tech founder, how did you find help with building your initial product?
  2. If you're an engineer, how would you suggest someone like myself go about finding someone to help?

To be clear, we have little capital and simply need help building the MVP. Not looking for co-founders necessarily.

Thanks!

25 Replies

Jacob Duane Johnson
1
0
Jacob Duane Johnson Entrepreneur
Artist and Creative Product Designer
Nathan,

It's a very difficult and long process for some, if you're lucky you already have some social capital you can plug into for leads. I'm not an engineer either, more of a product design guy and artist, but I simply started attending casual meetups for the industry I was building for. My product is in games - and so is my background - so i was able to tap into my connections to find some devs. I did have to pitch them the initial idea, most of them had jobs and families, so it was hard for them to take on the extra workload. Through the process of pitching to them, one actually saw and understood the vision and became my cofounder and build everything for me. Yeah I was SUPER lucky to find him - but I pitched it well enough and he jumped in feet first.

If you do not have the social capital for the industry your product is built for, then I would suggest first doing the diligence of attending events to network, you never know who you will end up pitching to. Second, if you have neither the social capital nor the connections, I would start posting your job list on Elance or any other contracting site. It's very difficult - in terms of communication - to do this at such a valuable stage as an MVP, but in the end it will get you farther faster than it would be to do the latter.

Best of luck!
Andrew Lockley
2
0
Andrew Lockley Advisor
Investor and strategy consultant
Get a jobbing CTO to consult, and try bodging something together with free or cheap tools before you commit to a big build that may not withstand the scrutiny if the market. Contact me andrewlockley.com to discuss further if you want.
Steve Everhard
3
0
Steve Everhard Advisor
All Things Startup
Nathan a "something for nothing" proposition isn't going to work. If you are building an MVP you need to ensure that the product functionality is delivered well and scales, and that means quality code development. You give money, a combination of money and equity or co-founder status to an engineer who will move you to MVP and beyond. If this is a private beta you might be able to hash something together to prove principles and functionality, but not for an MVP. If MVP doesn't function or doesn't scale or is slow and unavailable you will not move beyond MVP and you will have damaged your reputation with your target market.

Where to find them? There are online startup resources that match skills to needs, and face to face meet-ups will ensure you have a personality match. Determining skills is more difficult if you don't have a tech background so if you have a technical friend or contact who can help with the interviews so much the better.
Sudeep Bhatnagar
0
0
Sudeep Bhatnagar Entrepreneur
Developing iOS and Android Apps for Start-ups & Entrepreneurs, Mobile development consultant
If it is related to mobile or web, and if you can spend atleast some little, then we can help as professional app developers. Check out our company www.agicent.com or contact me directly at [removed to protect privacy] with your project details. Best regards, - Sudeep - Drafted and Sent from my iPhone, please excuse typos and brevity!
Andrew Lockley
7
0
Andrew Lockley Advisor
Investor and strategy consultant
Don't agree on the scale point at all. Build a throwaway prototype that doesn't scale, and probably one that leaves you doing much work manually in the background. Way faster, cheaper and easier to iterate. A
Steve Everhard
0
0
Steve Everhard Advisor
All Things Startup
Andrew agreed if this is a private beta but not a public MVP. If they do attract traffic and the site crashes then that may be an unrecoverable situation. Way faster and cheaper and way risky, unless you throttle traffic in which case way to fail.
Steve Everhard
1
0
Steve Everhard Advisor
All Things Startup
Nathan be careful about outsourcing if you don't have engineering resource to manage the project.
David Schwartz
8
0
David Schwartz Entrepreneur • Advisor
Multi-Platform (Desktop+Mobile) Rapid Prototyping + Dev, Tool Dev
You want someone to work for free, with no equity and no long-term commitment? Good luck!

There seems to be a lot of disagreement in terms of the most efficient process to follow here.

Personally, I believe you first need to build a prototype. Then go find some investment capital to help build your MVP. Contrary to what others say, the MVP does not need to be scalable. It simply needs to allow you to bring on your first batch of paying customers while you fund development of the next phase.

People get too attached to the code they have built. It's like building an airplane or car and refusing to let go of the wood and plaster models you built early-on, and insist they be used in the final products.

Whether you want to admit it or not, your first design or two WILL BE PROTOTYPES!!! It's guaranteed!

That's simply because there are too many unknowns right now. I don't care how much time you've spent modeling and tweaking ... until you've got PAYING CUSTOMERS (or at least ACTIVE customers), you have no real sense of what they're going to want.

People are wont to say they'd use or pay for something, then when faced with the choice, go the other way. Expect that. Heading straight to your MVP is often foolish. And believing that your MVP is going to scale into your final product is also foolish.

Focus on "quick and dirty" -- get something done fast so you can get feedback and determine whether you need to "pivot or persevere". Skipping a prototype, then pouring your time, effort, and money (or equity) into a prototype you're calling your MVP where you're also spending a lot of effort tuning it to scale when you don't even know what direction to scale it in is just wasteful.

I'm one of many tech resources here who can do this kind of work ... but I'm not independently wealthy and I've got rent to pay and other bills. I cannot spend my time working for free on project after project hoping that in a few years I'll make something back. I need to be paid NOW.

Unfortunately, unless you can find someone who's either living with their parents, was recently fired and has a bunch of money in the bank, someone who has no life and wants to spend time on your project after 10 hours at work, or just doesn't need to worry about income for a year or two, you're going to have to come up with a way to pay someone for their contribution to YOUR FUTURE WEALTH.
Anthony Miller
0
0
Anthony Miller Advisor
President & CEO at millermedia7
Hi Nathan!

We actually just built a MVP for a Founder, and have been supporting the app for the last few months. The founder had a small amount of seed money to get going. We built it by doing 1 week sprints (total 10 weeks) I'd be happy to chat with you about your strategy and maybe possibly working together.

Cheers, Tony
Nathan Terrazas
0
0
Nathan Terrazas Entrepreneur
Community Development at Everfest
All AWESOME responses guys. While I can't code, I still understand product launches and go to market strategy well. That said:

I've been part of a few private beta tests and have seen one awesome, similar app become successful by doing so. So I think we'll most likely give a working prototype to select users.

The very first "launch" of this is going to be super bare-bones because, like David mentioned, we just don't know what people want yet. We have an idea of what people want, but no doubt things will change once a product is used by people.

Steve- I understand your points on public vs private beta. But we literally have NO product whatsoever right now. Therefore, I'd have to agree more with what Andrew is saying. Hopefully, one day we'll be in the position to make a public launch where ruining our reputation is actually a possibility!

Anyone who offered to chat more, I'm going to reach out soon- much appreciated!
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