What to build MVP on?

If customer discovery interviews show no strong problem to solve, do you use the fact that there are other startups in the space as your validation to build a MVP?  The MVP would essentially be a me-too model with a slight demographic tweak. Doesn’t seem logical to me, but the team wants to move forward.

  • So what you’re saying is that you want to move forward on biases/intuition rather than evidence?

    What are you Me-too’ing — a service that solves nothing?

    Sounds like your team is using tools that it doesn’t understand. Why the F do you think you conducted customer discovery in the first place– to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

    • During the customer discovery process, the target market was interviewed. The interviews didn’t yield that an overwhelming majority of customers felt major pain. The problem felt lukewarm.

      The team is noting that because there are funded startups in the space, the problem we are solving for is validated. And the answers that I got from interviews were due to sampling issues.

      Our service is solving a problem (that other companies are addressing) but we are targeting a different demographic than our competitors.

      I guess we will end up learning fast either way…

  • Just because YOUR cust dev found nothing doesn’t mean your competitors turned up nothing either. Pain points are very nuanced and they may be on to something that just isn’t obvious.

  • If you have plenty of runway you can build an MVP and pray/pivot until you hit profitability. However, it doesn’t sound like the team is really passionate about the current direction. Folks will have a hard time staying motivated if the product/market is picked arbitrarily.

    It’s also possible that the product idea is good, but the attempt at customer validation is worthless because the wrong customers got approached. This is a failure of leadership, because product validation isn’t something you do for brownie points — it’s supposed to yield actionable intelligence. Going through the motions because “you’re supposed to” is a huge red flag. In the real world you don’t get points for effort. If your product sucks or if you can’t figure out how to reach potential customers the business is guaranteed to fail.

    • selection bias, sample bias– it’s a research minefield

      it’s not easy to find customers to speak with and then those who actually give their time have their reasons to

  • If you can’t find customers now with pain points how are you gonna find them when you have a product? FIGURE THIS OUT FIRST!!!

    Just because there are others building products doesn’t mean the market will support them. Don’t follow others on a wrong path.

  • I don’t understand the dynamic going on.

    Are you already funded? What is your/your team’s pedigree (successful exits, ex Google/Yahoo/Microsoft VPs, etc)? What are the pedigrees in the other startups?

    What I can tell you is that I’ve seen any number of funded startups with the most crappy ideas, the poorest execution, etc but with founders who had pedigrees.

    I’m not talking theoretical, I’m talking existing startups targeting an area I am expert in – with crap business models, poor traction, low subject matter expertise, etc.

    With a pedigree and a nice patter, seed level funding is eminently achievable due to the sheep like nature of many investors.

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