Stop writing code

Credits: Luca Bravo (https://unsplash.com/photos/9l_326FISzk)

This post was originally written for Startup Weekend participants, but it applies to everyone starting a business. Thanks SW LATAM Organizers for your support 😘.

As a Startup Weekend Organizer and Facilitator, I’ve had the chance to witness hundreds of teams trying to “start a business”. And I always see the same issue, over and over again: teams fail to build their MVPs. I’ve witnessed great teams, plagued with incredibly smart participants, that end up failing completely because they can’t get past the MVP phase. These teams get demoralized, thinking they’re just “not good enough”, which is of course not true. They’re really smart entrepreneurs, but they are taking the wrong approach by sitting and trying to code their MVP.

Startup Weekend gives you 54 hours to validate a business idea, build an MVP and take your baby to market. These are the three most important phases of the process and, even though they seem independent and isolated, they’re inherently related. For example, to properly validate if the solution you’re proposing will actually solve your customer’s need, you need to build an MVP. Or, while you’re validating, you’ll end up learning more about your potential customers, which will help you take the product to market. It’s an intertwined and iterative process. Validate > Build > Sell, repeat.

54 hours is enough to meet people, go to a SW party, validate ideas and hypothesis and a lot more. But it’s not even close to be enough to code a prototype. Coding in 2017 is still a messy process. If you’re not careful enough, you might spend the entire Friday night just deciding the right JS framework to use.

So, my recommendation is simple: Stop writing code. It is possible to build a beautiful and polished MVP that serves as a perfect prototype to validate your ideas without writing a single line of code. To do so, you can use one of the many prototype building tools available that will let you have working apps by just using sketches and images, without having to write code. These are the ones we usually recommend:

Flinto Lite

One of the simplest ones. It’s the one we recommend for people getting started, as it has an intuitive interface and good docs. It’s not free, although it has a 30 days free trial. If you’re in a hurry, this is probably the best option.

Origami (by Facebook)

This is one of our favorites. It’s FREE and the resulting apps look great. It has an integration with Sketch, which make it simple to export layers and use them directly to build your apps. The reason I’m not putting it first in this list is because it’s a little bit more complicated than Flinto. The documentation and tutorials are solid and there’s a Facebook group for help and support. Definitively the way to go if you want to get serious about it.

Final notes

As I said in the beginning, I wrote this post originally having SW participants in mind. But these words also apply to everyone starting a business or trying to validate an idea. Truth be told, I am a developer and it sucks to say that we can’t write code. But in the process of launching your startup, you have to focus in the important things first: validating and selling. Once you’ve validated your hypothesis and you’ve learned from your customers (and the market) you’re in a great position to start writing code. Don’t waste time on it early on.

Special thanks to Oscar Terrazas for reviewing and proofreading.