After repeatedly talking about customer acquisition, and the idea that startups are no longer required to build an amazing product upfront, the natural next question is how to assemble a minimum viable product to validate the market. Ideally, it’s getting something into the hands of prospects and figuring out the value and potential scalability of the business as quickly as possible. The days of needing hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a software prototype are done.
Here are a few ideas on assembling a minimum viable product for market validation:
- Build a seemingly-functional mobile app using Fluid UI and then let potential customers click around on the app
- Create web app wireframes and map out the most salient pieces for a software engineer (wireframes are one of my favorite ways to map software ideas before a product is built)
- Recruit a developer to moonlight and build a prototype after hours (most developers have side projects) and be ready to pay $50 – $100/hr
- Explore freelancers and outsourcing firms on Elance, paying special attention to references that you can contact and verify quality
- Incorporate tools for rapid prototyping and deployment like Ruby on Rails, Bootstrap, and Heroku
Cost wise, expect to pay between $5,000 and $20,000 to get something built and published. While it might not be a minimum respectable product, it should be functional and suitable to put in the hands of users. Assemble a minimum viable product and search for market validation before spending too much money.
What else? what are some other thoughts on getting a product into the hands of potential customers as quickly and affordably as possible?