Four Startups in Four Weeks – Suicide by MVP

After shutting down startupSQUARE I’ve realized that one of my (many) weaknesses is thinking too much. So I’m going to create four startups in four weeks.

This is potentially a stupid move in the middle of the holidays (or anytime), but I need to stop thinking.

I’m not trying to say that thinking is a bad thing in general, but if your goal is to test your assumptions, thinking about the next feature the user needs is not useful. More features means more complexity which means more assumptions which probably haven’t been validated.

So perhaps it would be more apt to say that thinking a lot is fine, so long as you’re thinking about how to reduce complexity to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Four Startups in Four Weeks

Which brings me to my inane self-challenge. Why would I want to create four startups in the middle of the holidays?

What I’ve come to realize over the last year is that customer development and the lean startup philosophy are not simply theoretical constructs that can be easily grasped.

Yes, you can read Four Steps to the Epiphany and Startup Lessons Learned. Yes, you can nod your head and buy the Lean Startup Bundle from AppSumo. (P.S.: You guys are cheeky bastards for putting not one but two unwritten books in there.) But none of that means you really understand (or grok if you prefer that term) how to do a lean startup.

Just as reading about playing cello won’t make you Yo Yo Ma (or Pablo Casals if you’re a real fan or the cello), reading about lean startups isn’t enough. It takes practice.

So that’s what I’m going to do over the next four weeks. I’m going to practice making MVPs.

Minimum Viable Product

I’d like to put the emphasis here on Minimum Viable PRODUCT because often the lean startup crew refer to even a landing page with a signup form as an MVP. While I understand, appreciate the philosophy, and have created such pages myself, I also hate this term. That’s really an MVT, Minimum Viable Test of a hypothesis.

If the landing page doesn’t provide the customer with anything of value, it’s really not a product yet…even if someone bought it with the hope of someday getting something out of it.

I can do MVTs…that’s easy. What I’d like to work on is MVPs. So I’m going to make at least four actual products that people can derive some value from.

They may suck and embarrass me.

They may be completely unwanted and unused.

But I’ll get what I need out of it…learning.

Wish me luck!