Building an MVP: What goes in and what doesn't

Choosing what to build and what not to build.


May 04, 2020

At this moment of time while I’m writing this article I currently work for a technology agency which makes digital products. We are paid to build the infrastructure of an up and coming technology startup.

I started as a software engineer and now I’m a PM/Software Developer, I do both things code and plan the product my team is about to code. I’ve learned a lot this past months and thought about making an essay about my learnings.

Make the problem your “North Star”

For painters, the excitement of seeing a blank canvas is everything. The possibilities of what you can paint are endless, you can spend hours of your day deciding what to paint and never come to a conclusion.

This also applies to software developers and designers, you can build anything you can imagine with technology and many times that is our problem. I recommend always to tackle a problem and make that problem your North Star, that can give you a great filter on deciding what feature to build and what not to.

If my North Star is to find a way better way to ride-hail other than taxis (yes I’m talking about Uber) then in the first iteration of my product I won’t be including ridesharing or tipping the driver. My problem is to move a person from point A to point B with an associated car-driver and that is what I’m basically going to build.

No more, no less.

Use the least amount of code to solve the problem

In some cases when you’re trying to solve a technical problem like using containers to deliver software, then obviously use the necessary code. But if the problem has some flows that you can do manually, then do them yourself!

Some of the flows that come to mind are:

  • KYC -> Send back and forth emails with customer

  • Analytics -> Learn to use SQL or use a third-party-service (Don’t Repeat Yourself)

  • User onboarding -> Send back and forth emails with users

Go to this article for more information in this topic: Do Things That Don’t Scale

Always be talking to potential users, you’ll have an insight to what to build then

One of the most important things you need to do while building an MVP is talk to your potential users, they are the source and will be the guides for your MVP to be succesful.

Don’t make the typical mistake and build every feature your users tell you to. What you need to do is listen to the pain and suffering of your users and check if your MVP has the ability to solve them.