Having specialised in early stage startups and MVPs for years, we know that a product doesn't end once an MVP is built. To create a successful startup, you need to weather the ups and the downs that occur on either side of your product’s launch. If you’ve been on this road before, you’ll know you’re entering into a rapidly changing business environment, and you’ll want a long term partner who can collaborate with you through it all.
Like any partnership, that needs the right mix of people. We make sure we're aligned with the founder's vision and goals, and we ask for the founder's trust in our expertise in return. But we also need to know that they’ve laid the right groundwork with their market research and have a clear roadmap for life after the MVP. Here’s some of what we look for in a startup to help ensure a fruitful collaboration.
Validated market demand
When you start building your MVP, you need more than just a great product idea and the budget to make it happen. You also need to know that there’s good business potential behind the idea, and that means doing as much research into your product/market fit as possible.
You need to identify your future customers and how many of them there are out there, as well as your number of competitors too. Are you trying to take a slice of a small, saturated market, or is there a large unsatisfied customer base just waiting for someone to deliver what you’re offering?
Without this understanding, it’s impossible to know the value of what you’re building or how to prioritise and make business decisions for the product.
Understanding the problem
As well as knowing your potential user base, as a founder you also need an intimate understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve. It sounds obvious, but a crucial step before embarking on a build is to back up your assumptions about what the market needs with feedback from real customers.
That doesn’t mean you need to know how to deliver a technical solution. One of our recent clients SULY didn’t know how exactly to realise their idea of an app to help people make more sustainable shopping choices.
But what they did know was that the availability of clear, transparent sustainability information was something users needed. They also knew that fashion was a particular problem industry to target. And from their understanding we were able to help them pin down a successful and cost-effective solution.
Looking to build a living, breathing product
Building and launching an MVP can be one of the biggest hurdles for any startup. But clearing this stage and getting the product to market is just the beginning of the journey, not the end.
Constant change is an essential part of that journey, whether it’s implementing planned features, testing assumptions, or adapting to competitors and feedback.
At Thought&Function we’ve always built apps with this future change in mind. But as a founder you also need to see your app as a living product, not a one-time project, and be prepared for a long-term iterative process.
Have defined goals and know the value of each goal
If an MVP is the first step in a journey, then founders need to know where that journey is going to take them and how they’re going to get there.
If you know you’re trying to capture a 1% share of a $1 billion market in five years, then you can start valuing how much investment you need to make into your product versus your marketing. Without clearly defined goals, your budgets and quotes will just become numbers, and that’s when founders start focusing on minimising costs rather than maximising return on investment.
To know what your product is worth and not just how much it costs, you need to dig deep into how each phase is going to achieve your goals. What does your MVP need to do to bring investors on board? Do you need to generate users and revenue, or just prove technically that you can do something that’s never been done before?
The more you can define your MVP, the more we can help you focus on adding value as well as features.
You want a partner, not a vendor
As we’ve said before, we don’t just want to build apps to spec. We want to form collaborative partnerships with startups, taking ownership over your product so you can focus on everything else that’s required, such as talking to customers and raising funds. But as partners, that means we’re not here to just say yes to everything, and we’ll push back if - based on our experience - we think there’s a better solution to be found.
We’re not doing it to muscle in on your idea. We simply want to help build successful startups as well as software, and that means being honest if something isn’t going to be feasible or won’t accomplish your business goals. We work with startups day in, day out, and it would be wrong for us not to bring our full range of experience to your project.
We’re open about how much things cost, and we won’t just quote a startup’s budget back at them if it’s not needed. We know there will be other agencies who can build an app for less. But with Thought&Function you’re getting a team who are experts in startups as well as software, and who are invested in helping your business achieve its long term goals.
One of our recent clients came to us with the funding for an app build but no market research to validate their idea. So instead of taking the money and building to spec, we helped set them up with a landing page to connect them with potential users first, so they could test the waters of the market and come back to the build when they were ready.
Want to make a positive change
We’re not saying we only work with startups who are trying to end world hunger, eradicate poverty and reverse the climate crisis. But we’re an ambitious, purpose-driven team, so we work best with founders who are the same.
Whether it’s promoting sustainable habits, improving healthcare access or providing coding education for kids, we thrive when we have the opportunity to help startups make a positive impact on the society, the environment, to help us progress humanity. So if you’re looking to drive impactful change and need the technical help to get there, Thought&Function are a great team to have on your side. Let’s make the world a little better to live in, one app at a time.
Get in touch with us to learn how we can provide the support you need to get your startup journey underway.