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

Design, Sell, Raise, then Build?

As a non-technical founder, I cannot build the product I have in mind. Though I have wireframes, and a strong concept of the MVP, I have been torn about the sequence in which i should start this process. Additionally, I do not yet have a tech co-founder, so I am realizing I will likely have to raise and pay salaries to get this going. The sequence I have in mind is as follows, would love your thoughts:
- Design: Based on my vision for an MVP, I would like to have a graphic designer create good mockups of the user experience, possibly even animate some of the functionality. This will make the product/concept feel very real, and can be done much more quickly than coding.
- Sell: I'll use these design mockups to get a few early customers interested and verbally committed to advertising/contributing to the site.
- Raise: With a few key customers "verbally" committed to the concept, I'll raise a Seed round of funding to be used to hire a strong technical lead, as well as any additional development resources that may be needed.
- Build: Any/all hires will need to be able to write code, but with a team in place, advertisers ready to go, content lined up, we race to get V1 off the ground.

So far this community has been a great place for feedback and resources, thanks in advance for your input.

25 Replies

Fahad Siddiqui
1
0
Fahad Siddiqui Entrepreneur • Advisor
Startup Founder
I agree with the general thought process that you have, but I think you'll learn in practice, that it is easier said than done. You will have to show something tangible to sell.

You will also learn that your understanding on an MVP will be different from what your customers expect.

You will want to either become technical yourself, and show something that looks like a product. Not sure what your product is, but if you can simulate it on wordpress, you can achieve a lot with very little technical knowledge.

If you can successfully get to the stage of "Sell", then the rest of it should follow more or less smoothly.
Helen Adeosun
1
0
Helen Adeosun Entrepreneur
Co-Founder and CEO of CareAcademy.co
The one thing that you're missing is testing! My site www.sittercycle.com. You have to be as creative as humanly possible, but there are ways to test every aspect of your business, including design before you raise any money.

It's also not that easy to raise money without showing you are willing to build even a crappy version of whatever you're trying to build, and going to talk to customers FIRST as testers and then engaging them as customers.

But if you don't test, and think about that before selling, you're at risk at falling for the biggest trap which is convincing yourself and others there's a pot of gold where there might not be and building the right product for the customers you have in mind and not your actual customers.

You should also invest some time in building a team and mentors, in fact, approach successful entrepreneurs/investors as mentors and your life will be so much better and your product much better informed.

Helen A
Sal Matteis
2
0
Sal Matteis Entrepreneur • Advisor
Innovation Policy, Building companies, Helping founders, Mentor at 500 Startups, Seedcamp, Startupbootcamp, Techstars
Alex,

It's a bit tough to judge the book by its cover because we have no idea what kind of business you are in the process of building.

The one thing I'd advice is this:*Nothing* tramps 'validation' .

Prove that you are solving a real problem shared by many people ( if your goal is to build a sustainable business that can attract capital)before you even start designing anything - ask yourself this question: does anyone want what I am about to build.

And after you ask that question go out and validate it. A good 90% of validation can happen even before design stage by mean of qualitative data (interviews).

Before you even start designing and mocking up or engaging other people - do anything you need to prove to yourself that there is a big problem and a large market.

Too many, companies are started with the idea that a grand vision will turn into a great business.

You are making a number of assumptions (some are more risky than others) on problem/solution/market/business model/channels/unique value proposition etc. Start validating the riskiest assumptions before you even get to start. Before you leave your job or seek for a co-founder.


Getting thru validation first will help you in a few ways:

1) Making sure that you don't waste your time

2) Validation is the *best* incentive to convince a tech person to join someone. Strong validation doesn't pay for salaries but it will attract the ambitious kind of folks who see potential in working in something that matters.

Happy to discuss off line.
Sal
Brent Goldstein
3
0
Brent Goldstein Entrepreneur • Advisor
Bold, Multi-Disciplined Software Engineering Leader - I’ll transform your organization and deliver the products you need
Consider that before you raise you will need some customers/revenue (not necessarily profit) and to get customers you will need more than initial visual mockups. The reason is that a viable minimum product takes going through customer development iterations to find the actual features the customer 'must have' and would actually pay for. Ideally these iterations are with something the customer can use, click through, etc. This can be a real minimum prototype, but a prototype of some kind. If you can get customers to sign-on and actually commit revenue with only visuals, you've got a stellar hit. More often they'll likely say it 'looks interesting', call me when I can use it.

-Brent
John Wallace
0
0
John Wallace Entrepreneur
President at Apps Incorporated
I've seen it done for large corporate software systems. The product was licensed before it was built, mainly because of a urgent need by the clients and a solid history of the founder. It's also being done regularly for the consumer markets by places like fundable.com and kickstarter.com. I'd love to hear how this turns out. There are many times I've wanted to ham-and-cheese-sandwich a business deal (if Alice gives me ham then I'd have a ham and cheese sandwich, if Jim gives me cheese.) Sometimes a little demo goes a long way.
Rob Gropper
1
0
Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
hard to give salient advice with such little detail, but it sounds like you are planning to build a website and generate revenue from ads. you will have a very hard time (and you will spend too much time) raising money without traction (i.e. proven user growth and/or paying customers), unless you have recently sold your prior company for several million $$ or you just left FB, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, etc. with several million $$ in you bank account and you don't need the money. unless you are a proven successful entrepreneur (successful exits), are wealthy or you have strong tech skills and a Stanford Ph.D. you should focus your energy on building a small team and getting traction before trying to raise money. below is one process i know works:

1. customer validation
2. mockup MVP: powerpoint / wordpress. should be able to sell your vision to co-founders and customers before cutting expensive code.
3. customer validation
4. tweak mockups
5. market validation (a bunch of customers, partners as well as competition, pricing, distribution, etc.)
6. business model development (canvas) - pricing, distribution, competition, partner opportunities, what-if modeling...
7. build a small (2-3 at most) team by selling them on your vision which is based on real market and biz model validation.
8. build MVP
9. get written commitment from paying customers - checks are good 'written commitment'.
10. get proven market traction from paying customers/partners
11. raise money
12 grow.
Craig Walmsley
1
0
Craig Walmsley Entrepreneur
MD @ Progenit. Founder @ rtobjects. Locke Scholar.
I hope you can do this - but my guess is that you'd have to get *something* at least half-working first.

I was once berated at a panel for asking "where can I find technical people to work with on this concept?", the basic response being that if I couldn't persuade a tech-lead to work on this project, how on earth could I persuade someone to give me some actual money to do it?

(Which wasn't what I asked - but whatever...)

That said, do you need a co-founder, or can you hire some v. low cost off-shore dev to string the most basic thing together? - I know some folks who got seed funding on the basis of some very polished design, a working login-in button and a re-assurance that there was more development just around the corner...

Michael Brill
0
0
Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
Hard to know without more details, but since it looks like it's going to be quite content-heavy, you may want to really, really, really think about whether one or two of those nav items can be the MVP and maybe you can just lay something on top of Wordpress to get going. Over lunch, download a copy of Balsamiq, create a crappy mockup yourself by Wednesday. Set up a few meetings with friends and a couple friendly technical people for Thursday-Sunday and by Monday you'll know what you should do.

FWIW, I've been working on an over-optimized/designed idea for the past two months - complete with strategy for raising money, etc. and yesterday I just realized I could build the effing thing in 4 weeks so that's what I'm doing.

Helen Adeosun
0
0
Helen Adeosun Entrepreneur
Co-Founder and CEO of CareAcademy.co
Sigh Michael...kudos for discovering this sooner than later. Helen A
Rob Gropper
0
0
Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
@Michael, yes, i think one step in startup model we often forget is the "now stop and think for a bit" step. necessity is still the mother of invention... i bet it will be a much more informed MVP than 2 months ago. good luck!
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?