How to Build an MVP as a Non-Technical Founder

Recently, we welcomed Founder and CEO of Codementor Weiting Liu, as a panelist for our webinar “How To Build A Startup As A Non-Tech Founder”. Codementor is an online marketplace that connects developers with experts for one-on-one training through screen sharing, video and text chat. Before launching the developer tool, Weiting founded multiple companies and managed large robust teams. Weiting is self-taught, and believes that anyone can launch a tech company if they hustle hard enough.

Below, Weiting and Founder Institute CEO Adeo Ressi provide three steps to launching a technology business as a non-technical founder.

1. Be scrappy when developing your first MVP

Developing your MVP will essentially help you vet your startup idea. The minimum viable product (MVP) solely includes the features that will attract feedback and money from early adopters. Eric Ries, entrepreneur and author of “The Lean Startup,” defined the term as “a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

The key phrase in his definition is “least effort”; you wouldn’t want to waste time or money building a product that isn’t needed or wanted in the market. This is especially true for idea-stage entrepreneurs who are still honing technical skills. Weiting and Adeo both agree that founders should be scrappy when developing an MVP. With all of the available tools online, it’s easy to develop an MVP without knowing how to code. Weiting adds, “if you produce a working prototype, that should be more than enough. So there is a lot of quick short paths that enable you to build something very quickly on a mobile platform.”

Adeo suggests doing extensive research or self-training in order to create that MVP. He quotes, “either you learn javascript and program it yourself, or make a mock-up in HTML that works on a mobile device, or maybe work on a mobile development platform that has the pieces you need to get the functionality.” Adeo adds that you don’t need to be a master, “you just have to set your sights correctly and find the tools that best suit your needs.”

So when choosing your initial system or out-of-the-box software to build your MVP, make sure it has enough flexibility so you can tinker with the product as you learn from your users. Also try your best to familiarize yourself with every aspect of the system, so that you can quickly make changes as needed.

2. Simple tools to help launch your MVP

Adeo and Weiting recommend Launchrock, which is a platform that helps you create and promote your landing page. “I thought about using Launchrock, but I wanted to have more flexibility at the time,” said Weiting. Another option is Unbounce, which helps you produce advanced landing pages and includes features like A/B testing. Wordpress, the blogging platform, is another simple option for developing a landing page.

According to Adeo, it doesn’t matter if your landing page functions or not. “A lot of MVPs don’t need to function, they can be a concierge MVP.” Like a concierge business books your hotel or restaurant, a concierge MVP appears to function for the user, but in reality all the work is done manually by the founders behind the scenes.

3. Talk to users

After you’ve built an MVP, the next step is to show your product to as many users as possible. From there, use the feedback acquired from early adopters and continue to build on your product.

“In the beginning you are essentially the project manager of the company. The MVP is the company. So it’s about focusing your 100% attention on making the product as fast as possible for the group of users that you’ll be targeting.” — Weiting Liu

Listen to the full webinar recording here:

The Founder Institute hosts webinars every month so that we can help entrepreneurs on any stage succeed. These webinars discuss a wide range of topics, bestowing global entrepreneurs with invaluable resources.

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