It was the final class of “Mobile and Web Development.” Twelve teams were presenting their final projects. We were one of them. I was ready to BS my way through a presentation of crudely crafted wireframes, collect my B for the semester, and inch 3 credits closer to graduation.
When I got to class, it all changed. Zak, my partner, took my iPhone 3G, plugged it into his Mac and handed it back to me. “Create an account,” he said. “What?” I said dumbfounded. “Open the app and create an account.”
I clicked on a blank icon, entered my email address and was brought to a white screen. In the top right corner of the app, was a “+”. I hit it, which brought me to a new screen asking me to create an album. With my heart beating steadily faster, I typed in “test” and hit “Done.” I was brought to another screen with a camera icon. I took a photo. It uploaded. I then noticed an “invite” button. I hit it and entered Zak’s email into the pop-up box. One minute later a new photo, not taken by me, appeared next to the first photo I took.
Viola! A collaborative album.
Ditching the PowerPoint deck, we did a live demo for the class. When we were through, I asked: “How many of you would use this app?” About 42 out of 45 raised their hands. We were onto something.
At that moment, we had an MVP: a barebones product built quickly that is used to test consumer reaction. Given the positive feedback, the next step was to build an initial product for the market – you know, something thoughtfully designed and rigorously tested.
But did we do that? Nope.
I was so hopped-up on the lean start-up buzz, that I spent the next six weeks saying “we need to build a Minimal Viable Product.” So we took the barebones design and added to it. Some of the features were sensible; for example, attaching the name of the photo-taker to the photo. Others were unnecessary; posting a photo to Twitter, for example, could wait.
In the end, we spent 6 weeks adding features to a “minimal” product that had already tested positively with consumers. That time should have been spent enhancing our design, nailing the user experience, formulating the out-of-the-box experience and testing.
Repeat after me: I will stop building an MVP after validating my product with real users and move quickly to building a market-ready product.
Last week, Spottah 2.0 was released. The redesign was made possible by the talented Chris Allen. He discovered Spottah at a bachelor party, loved it, and pitched us on a redesign. Two days later, he shipped a reimagined home page. It was stunning.
Chris crafted crisp designs and Yin brought them to life. And for the next few months, I had the honor of watching the Lennon/McCartney of app builders compose their masterpiece.
I love business history. And I love music. So this is just about my favorite song. It's by Mark Knopfler, and it's the history of Ray Kroc and the founding of McDonalds. I've pasted the lyrics below. Enjoy!
i’m going to san bernardino
that’s my thing, now
these guys bought
a heap of my stuff
and i gotta see a good thing
sure enough, now
or my name’s not kroc
that’s kroc with a ‘k’
I'm the Founder and CEO of Peak Support. This blog is my take on early-stage companies and innovation. Every so often, there may be a post about culture, networking, family -- you name it. After all, what is a blog if it isn't a tad bit unstructured.