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MVP Team. What to look for?

The number one reason why most startups fail is timing. That’s right, timing accounts for 42 percent of startup fails

That is why many entrepreneurs nowadays are embracing the lean startup approach with emphasis on speed and validated learning. And this is where we get into the concept of an MVP and the Build-Measure-Learn loop. But I’m sure you know all about the so we won’t be getting into that.

To build the MVP you need someone who will take care of the code, right? So you start chasing down a technical co-founder, recruiting the core team, and… that is when you slip up and start getting off track from your initial goal of building a fast MVP. The truth is, building a team takes time and can be quite risky if you haven’t tested your idea first.

Thus a growing number of startups are quietly dropping the conventional wisdom of developing in-house and start hiring remote dev teams to build the MVP. That is where the fun begins. Many companies advertise MVP development services as a strategy to lure in early stage startups. They staff their MVP team with entry level developers to keep the cost down and produce a mediocre product. These are the teams you should avoid.

Here is a short checklist of things you should look out for when selecting a development team for your MVP:

Don't go for the cheap ones. Low service cost means cheap resources, which results in a shoddy MVP. Go for reputation instead. Ask for references - teams with active client engagements are happy to share contacts. Browse their LinkedIn networks, get a sense of their customers, and check out the portfolio. And never settle for a package deal.

Look for creative problem solvers. Remember, an MVP is 80% brainstorming and 20% coding. You need critical thinkers, people who question assumptions and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. When describing your idea with the potential team restrain yourself from listing the entire feature set. Define the core benefit and have them formulate their understanding of the product.

Measure communication skills. An MVP is largely about communicating, planning and sharing ideas. As silly as this might sound, make sure you understand each other. Each meeting should translate into a meaningful milestone. Also, evaluate the team’s listening skills. The ability to create space for a meaningful conversation is a skill in itself.

Criticism is a good thing. Appreciate teams that ask the tough questions. They will be curious about your monetization plan, your short-term, and long-term goals, and will drill down to the core of your idea. Those who ask the tough questions are the ones who care and understand the importance of your startup.

UX matters. Many startups get stuck on the “minimum” part of the MVP and ignore usability. UX is vital and good team understands that. When developing an MVP, you should consider the minimum experience and user flow that would entice your customers to come back and tell their friends about the product. The synergy of UX, design, and code result in the ultimate MVP.

So unless you’re Drew Houston, who started Dropbox as a solo player with a 3-minute intro video, try searching for a remote MVP team that will take care of your baby. Once you start getting traction, you can proceed to build the core team and start selling. Building a team with an MVP already in place will save you a ton of effort and increase the credibility of your venture.

Good luck and happy pitching!
bells and whistles of an MVP