Launching my MVP (Test Before You Invest; LWIL 5)

I believe it’s easier to learn from a peer, someone who is (roughly) in your shoes. The goal of this series is to publicize my experience learning how to code. Check back on previous posts for context!

I have been running an app-focused startup for 2.5 years. FFRepo, this fantasy football tool I’m building, is my second “product” that I’ve led the development of. The biggest lesson you can take from me: test before you invest. Building things takes soo much longer than you think it will, it is just a fact of life. It’s hard to stomach at the start, but there are so many little ways you can test the value of an imagined product before sinking the time into building. You’ll think “but it’ll be quick to build, I don’t want to waste time creating mockups and running interviews when I could just build and get it out there.” It will take way longer. Do the upfront testing.

Today, my first version of the MVP is live. It is obviously broken in some areas. Wide Receiver Comparison tool works, RB Comparison isn’t built yet. The Upcoming Opponents table doesn’t fill yet. But the past stats provides value by easily searching a WR and showing their targets. All this work and here we are — something that I’m not even sure has value. The upcoming games will… but enough to be used? I could have tested how much value I’d deliver through a much smaller effort. This is the lean startup mentality. Test before you invest.

Link to FFRepo: bholmquist11.github.io

How to test? I could have asked 5 friends who play fantasy to have a 30 minute call. I could have set up a table of the relevant stats for their players, and said “Pick any one of your players, imagine this was a website. OK, here are the stats it’d serve. How appealing is this?” Maybe there is a stat that all 5 would’ve wanted that I don’t have. Even worse, maybe they all have tools that do this that I’m not aware of, meaning my site does nothing.

I don’t actually suspect the above is true — but I’m suspecting and not knowing. I’ve sank 30+ hours into this, for sure, probably closer to 50, and I’m not even sure anyone wants to use it. The reason I’m not bummed about that is because I’ve learned Javacript and web dev to some extent, an outcome I always viewed as worth the effort regardless of FFRepo’s usefulness. But still, the ideal situation is learning while building something valuable. Hopefully I guessed right!