Today we kicked off our first investment for Shotput Ventures 2010. Now, like Shotput last year, we don’t talk about the specifics of our portfolio companies until they launch, but one of the things I want to do is capture more of the lessons learned as we go through the 12 week mentoring process.
During our discussions about their product today, which comprised most of the few hours, several issues were brought up:
- What’s the right balance between working on code and talking to prospects?
- How simple should a minimum viable product actually be?
- What functionality can standalone and what is dependent on other items?
- How should the features be prioritized?
While there is no right or wrong answer, one piece we did quickly realize is that the team was building a good bit of functionality that was overkill for getting something out the door that added real business value. This is especially true when there’s such a clean slate with a new product — new features are incredibly easy and fast to add. The hidden problem, which most entrepreneurs don’t appreciate until after they’ve felt the pain, is that these quick-to-add features add code debt and actually slow down development in the future — when it is even more important to move fast.
My advice: ask yourself “Do we really need this?” for every little feature or option of a feature when building a product — you’ll appreciate it in the long run.