Principle 8: Start Small. Start Ugly.

Tech & Prototypes

How can I cheaply build and launch v1 of my startup?

Why is this principle important?

No idea survives first contact with the outside world intact. The only way to properly begin understanding your idea’s potential is to get it out there. Spend as little money and time as possible and get to launch. And yes, every idea has an MVP – yours is no exception :)

What should you focus on at this stage?
  • Learn about a range of new startup tools.
  • Figure out your Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
  • Build v0.1 of your product or service.
  • Launch (fast), Learn and Iterate.
Core Concepts

Identify your Minimum Viable Product

Explore an abundance of tech tools
Building a startup today is like shopping in a giant supermarket. There are so many useful, cheap tools to pick off-the-shelf, the challenge is knowing where to start. Play with the web-building, marketing and operational tools we share in this tribe to see which ones work for you.

Understand the core of your offering
If you stripped back everything around your idea, what remains? Facebook connects people online. What is the smallest version of your idea? Start with this.

Figure out the quickest way to build it
How can I get the smallest version of my idea out into the world to see if people want it? Find the tools that can help you do this: from pop-up shops to simple landing pages to google docs.

Build and launch your v0.1 product or service

Fight your natural perfectionism
This is hard. But if you try and perfect it before you test it you will fail.

Figure out which assumptions you’re testing
What matters more than anything else? Go back to your mission and vision. What are you measuring?

Find an audience and launch
Share the first version of your idea with the customers you’re targeting in the places you’ve identified them. Don’t make a big song and dance about ‘launching’, just begin.

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

– Reid Hoffman, Founder, Linkedin

Your Questions

Join The Tribe Forum for Q&A on the Tech & Prototypes principle.
http://tribeforum.escapethecity.org/c/the-startup-zone/8-tech-prototypes

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Tools & Resources
Website Building & Design

For personal branding, user-testing, product launches or full-blown businesses.

  • Strikingly: Slick landing pages your Granny could build. My default web-builder.
  • Launchrock: Smart email-gathering product launch pages
  • Squarespace: The sexiest non-coding web-builder.
  • Divi: Putting the rest of the WordPress themes to shame.
  • Fiverr: Logos (& more) for a fiver. Designed by humans. Yes, really.
  • 99 Designs: 99 people design, you decide.
Feedback & Validation

Rapid feedback on ideas, prototypes and products can lead to quality market validation and future campaigns.

  • Twitter: Open a twitter account with the name of your idea. Follow 100+ people/orgs in the industry that your idea is in. Check back 24 hours. If 20% or more followed you back, you have something.
  • User Testing: Get videos of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your website or mobile app
  • Typeform: Elegant and fun new way to get people to give you online feedback. We use this a lot!
  • Google Forms: Simple, quick and all integrated with your google world.
  • Survey Monkey: Old school, but still great for online surveys.
  • Optimizely: A/B test your landing page. See also Parse.

Taking payments is a big one for most startups and this is where we’ve seen the biggest jumps forward over the last couple of years.

  • Stripe: Finally a decent alternative to Paypal with actual customer service.
  • Celery: Accept pre-orders easily.
  • Square: Replaces the till / register / chip & pin.
  • GoCardless: Recurring payments by Direct Debit (EU only)
  • Moonclerk: More recurring payments integrated with Stripe
  • Plasso: Payments made easy.
Building Products
  • Fab Labs – go downstairs at The Escape School and print your big idea for peanuts
Analytics and Metrics
  • Google: The original analytics app but not that user friendly.
  • Crazy Egg: Prefer pictures to numbers? Heat map visuals of where people click on your website.
  • GoSquared: Easy to use web analytics.
  • MixPanel: Actions speak louder than page views.
  • KissMetrics: Gives you the insights you need to optimize your marketing.
  • Webmention: for keeping tabs on who is talking about you
Further Information
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