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Lean startup experiment, phase 2: building the MVP
August 24th, 2011 by Joca

My lean startup experiment is an experiment I’m running to see if it is possible to launch a successful product (product = customer facing software system) without spending too much money and in a short period of time.

Actually the name startup is a bit misleading because this process could and should be use not only by startups but by companies of any size. This process integrates quite well with Agile Software Development and with Continuous Delivery. For this reason, instead of lean startup, I prefer to call it agile product discovery.

Phase 1: idea funnel

I already mentioned about my lean startup validation experiment in a previous post. In the first phase I had 5 new product ideas and used unbounce to build a simple page describing the service and asking people to provide their email address if they wanted to be notified when the service. Then I setup a Google AdWords campaign for each product idea in order to generate traffic for the product pages.

Cost so far, $300 for each product test, total $1500.

The product with most interest was a calories log system where the user informs the food she ate during the day and the system calculates the total amount of calories, also informing how many of those calories were red (we should eat only 10% of red calories per day), yellow (up to 35% is ok) and green (at least 65%).

Phase 2: MVP – Minimal Viable Product

Ok, now that I have a product idea with potential demand, I should build an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) to better understand this demand. In order to do that, I need a logo, a visual design and a system.

For the logo, I decided to use a Brazilian service named We.Do.Logo, a crowd sourcing system where you describe why you need a logo and many designers present you with options. You get to interact with them and eventually you pick one. The name of the system is ContaCal. Conta means count in Portuguese. The winning logo is:

ContaCal logo

ContaCal logo

I paid $310 for the logo.

For the system, I decided to use a service called Startup DEV. With an agile style planning meeting plus 48 hours of coding, they deliver the MVP. I hired them, send them my wireframe:

I also selected a WordPress template from themeforest to be the guide for design. The cost of the template was $35 and the Startup DEV service cost $3K.

The result was great. The Startup DEV team did a great job and now I have an MVP to test. I’m still finishing the web site and will probably launch the service o during the next weekend. By launch I mean sending an email to all the people that showed interest during phase 1 and resuming the Google AdWords campaign.

But meanwhile I want to invite you to use ContaCal. The system was made in Portuguese and I still don’t have plans for an English version. Next steps will depend on demand. :-)

To use ContaCal, please visit http://app.contacal.com.br.

Total cost and time so far: $5,025 – 3 weeks

  • Phase 1 (idea funnel): $1,600 – 2 weeks
    • 5 product ideas pages in unbounce: $50
    • 5 Google AdWords campaign: $1500
    • 5 Domain registration: $50
  • Phase 2 (MVP): $3,425 – 1 week
    • crowd sourced logo: $310
    • wordpress template: $35
    • wordpress template adjustments: $80
    • startup dev MVP development: $3000

Stay tuned for the next steps

  • website launch
  • online campaign (Google, Facebook, Orkut, etc.)
  • real users feedback!
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