In this post, I explain why the first version of DayTickler must not only be lovable but also a marketable product.
Following my last post some readers were surprised that we will take almost nine months to produce a minimum viable product (MVP). According to Wikipedia, a minimum viable product (MVP) is the product with the highest return on investment versus risk. Usually, a MVP only has those basic features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. The product is typically deployed to a subset of customers (early adopters) that are supposed to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to confirm a product vision from an early prototype. As stated by Eric Ries in his colloquial book The Lean Startup, "The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort."
At this stage in our product development, we seek to validate whether customers will agree to subscribe to the premium version of DayTickler. As we aim to market to consumer in an already mature market (there are already over a hundred to-do app), we can hardly launch a product that would be perceived as incomplete. We need to polish the software to the point of making it lovable, and this requires time. Furthermore, it must have all the necessary features to make it marketable. In our case, this requires building not only the core of the product but also the main feature that will convince customers to subscribe and pay for the premium version. This means that the product cannot be a prototype and this takes work. Especially that while building the product, at the same time, we continue to do consulting. Here's why the construction of the MVP is so demanding and requires more than 9 months.
For my first startups, to support the initial costs before being profitable, I was looking for external funding, mainly venture capital. I do not take this path anymore. When I started my consulting firm in 2003, I bootstrapped to finance my venture with success. My partner Erik and I, we intent to do the same with Slingboards Lab.
Bootstrapping refers to a self-sustaining process, where entrepreneur proceeds without external help or capital. In our case, we will fund the development of Slingboards Lab through internal cash flow (and we are very cautious with our expenses). For now, the cash flow come from consulting services we do on the side. Obviously, we do not accept full-time contracts, part-time only. Bootstrapping is a real challenge. In general, since we have two jobs, we work more than 60 hours per week. In addition, you need a good network to obtain contracts.
Currently, I am looking for a part-time contract. If you are looking for an agile coach endowed with a strong expertise in architecture, I'm your man.
Another source of revenue that helps fund my startup are training. On 22 May, I will provide training in Quebec City entitled "TEAM FOUNDATION TOUR: Maitriser l'agilité avec l'outillage Microsoft " This training (in French) provides an edge in the adoption of agile practices (Scrum) with Microsoft Team Foundation Server.
Here is the web page announcing the event: http://mariocardinal.eventbrite.ca