This myth about building an MVP could cost you thousands

If you’re building a startup, you’re almost certainly thinking about scale. 

You’re asking yourself questions like: 

How do I make a global impact? 

How do I reach and improve the lives of millions of people?

These are exactly the right questions to ask yourself as a startup founder. 

But, if you’re not careful, these questions can also be a curse and the very cause of your undoing – meaning your idea never makes you any money and never makes the impact you wanted it to. 

While you certainly want to aim to scale globally and make a worldwide impact, you won’t make it if you try to do it right from your first MVP (Minimum Viable Product). 

One of the big reasons the startup failure rate is so high is that founders bite off more than they can chew when it comes to getting their first MVP to market.

The definition itself of MVP causes major challenges and problems. 

The very idea of a “minimum viable PRODUCT” makes founders think that they need to build a product before anything else.

We meet hundreds of founders who want to get their super-polished all-singing all-dancing product built for their very first release. 

They believe that if they don’t do that, they’re not a true startup. 

This is a myth – and couldn’t be further from the truth.

The most crucial element to being a true startup is to effectively manage and mitigate your innovation risk.

And there’s one clear way to do that.

It’s to validate the smallest amount of value that you can add to a customer as soon as possible.

You have to start somewhere, but that somewhere may not actually have anything to do with software.

Your most important jobs to be done when validating your hypotheses around what you’re going to offer and who you’ll offer it to are: 

  1. To uncover patterns of “pants-on-fire problems” (big problems that many people in a particular situation would throw money at you to have solved) 
  2. Work out what is the smallest package of work you could deliver to them to help them overcome those problems in some way

One of the best examples of this comes from Jeff Bezos when he first started Amazon.

When he first began the early work of validating his business offer hypothesis, it was just him, a landing page, and a few hundred people on his mailing list. 

He would personally hand-deliver books to those people’s houses for the sole purpose of validating that people would pay to have a book delivered to their door rather than going to the bookstore to buy it.

He didn’t try to make the Amazon platform first. He knew he didn’t need the platform to validate the idea – and that it would be pointless to build the platform without first validating the offer.

The founders of Airbnb understood the same. 

When they first started, they had a landing page and a few rooms with mattresses in them available for design-conference attendees in San Francisco to book.

The Airbnb and Amazon sites we’re all familiar with now were built up over many years, with many iterations, and many releases.

What these successful founders understood is that typically, if a group of people has a true pants-on-fire problem, then they’ll be actively seeking a solution and will want to work with you – however that may look initially. 

They’ll happily pay for some element of value that will go some way towards solving their problem. 

A small service, a consulting offer, or whatever you can do to validate that core problem and element of your solution – without software or a complex product first – is a great way to get started on the right foot on your journey. 

It allows you to cheaply test and validate the problem and solution while you think about building software or a product to deliver that experience in a more comprehensive way down the track.

This is the best way to give yourself the highest chance of achieving your massive transformative impact and the vision you have for yourself and your company 20 years from now.

If you’re a founder with a big idea but you’re not sure how to validate your problem and solution hypothesis without building a platform or product first, we can help.

Fill out this short questionnaire to tell us about your situation, and we’ll get in touch with your next steps.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.

If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.

  1. You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
  2. Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.

If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.

If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.


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