Q: What are the lessons you learned from building an MVP for a startup?
I worry about the term “MVP” in SaaS. The only thing I think that matters is an “MSP” — a Minimum Sellable Product. A product that gets at least 10 paying customers.
Here’s what often happens with MVPs that aren’t yet MSPs in SaaS:
- They break and don’t scale. A hack often doesn’t work even under moderate load. If you have to throw away all the MVP code, that can be tough. We think we can refactor, etc. but often there is no time. Or we run out of time.
- There is no real 10x feature without paying customers. Without paying customers, you don’t really know what folks will pay for. What folks say they like, and say they might pay for, is not the same as what they will pay for. More on that here.
- The feedback is baffling. Feedback from free users, or folks just dabbling with a product, is often very different from feedback from folks paying real money.
- There are often outsourced with limited ability to bring in-house. Yes, Slack started off outsourced as an MSP in essence. But they had an in-house team to take it over immediately.
You do need an MVP in SaaS. It’s just, I see it as a smile milestone on the way to MSP. That’s the first one that matters.