The Biggest Mistake Founders Make when Building an MVP

We just started inviting people into the alpha for a community product we’re developing called Groop. It didn’t solve any of their problems. It wasn’t supposed to.

The product is a community platform so it needed a decent amount of features even for an MVP, but we did the absolute bare minimum. We kept it so minimal that there was no way people would actually want to use it.

I knew that when we started invited people to try it out that the feedback would be pretty harsh. It’s so simple, and people have high standards for community platforms. There are a lot of features that people just expect to be there because they’ve seen them on forums or Facebook groups. We didn’t build any of them.

The biggest mistake founders make when building an MVP is they try to solve the problem instead of just starting a conversation.

They end up over-engineering the product because they don’t want to put it out in the world until it actually solves the problem. It’s rare that right off the bat, a product you build will solve a real problem. It’s like if you walked onto a beach with a metal detector and expected it to find something  as soon as you turned it on.

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman.

With our MVP, my goal was to make people say “Really? That’s it?!” so that I could respond with “What did you expect?” and “What would you need to see here in order to use this community platform for your company?”

It started a conversation that’s already leading us to really important learnings about what people actually need. Things that we never would have learned by just asking them.

Now we can continue to develop the product and figure out how to solve the problem based on what people actually want.

People will always tell you what they need to see in a product. They’ll never tell you what you should take away.

So we’re starting as simple as possible, so simple that it actually doesn’t solve a problem. Hopefully that leads us to the right solution. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’re a startup or a company launching a community for the first time and want to join the Groop alpha, email me. It won’t solve your problem, but it might one day. 

The State of CMX, a Letter to Our Community

Today we shared an update with the CMX community on everything that’s happening behind the scenes at CMX. I wanted to share it here as well for anyone who’s been following along with our story. We want everything with CMX to be transparent, especially within our community, and we’re excited to hear any and all…

Stop Asking “Am I Happy?”, That’s Not How it Works

I’ve always had this vague idea in my head that happiness is this point in life that I can reach. If I work hard enough, make lots of friends, make money, travel, check off all the boxes…then I’ll be a “happy person”. Other people seem to think the same way because I’ve been asked many…

How I Got Fired from a Hot Startup

I wrote this article over three months ago. It’s taken a while to hit publish. I’ve wanted to share my story and be truly transparent but getting fired is a hard thing to talk about. Not just because it’s a bit embarrassing and might hurt my reputation, but because it involves other people. I don’t…

Make People Happy by Understanding What Freedom Means to Them

I had a really interesting discussion with Hiten Shah and Nadia Eghbal the other day about freedom and what it really meant for each of us. Freedom is something many of us strive for. It can affect where we choose to work, who we date, who we live with, where we live and probably a lot of…