StartUp Founders: Iterate Your Idea & GTM Before Building Your MVP
First-time founders can sabotage their own success by not understanding the objective of the Friends, Family, & Fools (FFF or triple F) round. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that the objective of this round is to build a product, when in reality, it’s all about understanding what you’re building, why, how, and what the goal is.
As Lean Startup theory founder Eric Ries says, “The goal of a startup is to figure out the right thing to build, the thing customers want and will pay for, as quickly as possible.” This means that you need to iterate your idea and go-to-market (GTM) strategy before building your Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
Startup industry innnovator Steve Blank also puts it best: “Startups are not smaller versions of large companies. They are a temporary organization designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model.” By doing so, startups can understand the market, the customer’s needs and preferences, the competition, the value proposition, and the business model. Once they have done so, they can develop a sound strategy, build a scalable product, and acquire customers.
One example of a company that followed this approach is Dropbox. The founders didn’t start by building the product, instead, they focused on understanding the problem they were solving and who their target customers were. They created a simple explainer video to test the market before building the product, which helped them to validate their idea and generate interest.
In another example, Uber’s first iteration was not an app; it was a simple SMS service to request a cab. The founders launched it in San Francisco to test the idea, the market, and the product-market fit. They learned that the demand was high, and the cab companies were inefficient, leading them to build an app-based transportation platform. Today, Uber is a global leader in ride-hailing, food delivery, and logistics.
Starting with an objective and a strategy is key to avoiding wasted time, money, and effort on an MVP that doesn’t solve a real problem or meet a real need. Take the time to iterate your idea and GTM strategy before building your MVP, and you’ll be on your way to creating a successful startup.
As the adage goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Good luck!