Dear Wantpreneurs, Let MVPs Be MVPs!

Yesterday, some gentleman called Allan called me. He wanted us to start a business together. Because? He had seen my posters advertising CV writing and Dissertation that I had pinned around Makerere University.

He didn't know that I was carrying out some case study. Though I also do the services in my free times.

Back to Allan...

He told me that he was working on developing a web platform that can help people write CVs as well receive instant job notifications. He poured his 'pitch' of how he is looking at helping fight unemployment in the end.

In all honesty, I thought it was far fetched. People are not failing to get jobs because of poorly written CVs. But anyway, we shall leave it at that because addressing the causes of unemployment isn't the intention of this write-up.

What I was really interested in was Allan's MVP. Plus, if he had done some basic research.

The first question I usually ask someone starting is; "Is what you're proposing the most basic way to start?" Some people just say yes thinking they'll avoid more questions from me.

While others, especially IT people with skills that build apps and web platforms for themselves, say yes because they think they're not incurring any costs.

So, the next question is always I have for the IT people is; How much would you charge someone to develop for you that website. The one you've done for 'free'?

Some are honest enough to state the correct figure while others, out of fear of being criticized and victimized, grossly underestimate the figure.

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late - Reid Hoffman, Co-founder LinkedIn 

But what I tell them is that the amount they would have paid another person is what they have spent trying to come up with their platforms. Some realize it and agree, others don't.

And when you ask how long they'll take to recover their initial 'free' investment - majority give you a wild uncalculated guess - just to impress and alleviate their guilt.

Back to the MVP issue...

This is the second time in a month I'm trying to understand if someone didn't have any other less basic way of launching other than an app or website.

The first one, a friend and OB (again), came to my inbox excited to tell me to try out their new app. He was surprised to be met with questions that he ended up retreating - abandoning a conversation he had initiated.

His plan was that developing a cool app would automatically attract people to use it. He also assumed that he'd just add a store to his app and people will be excited to buy from him.

So, I asked if he knew the most downloaded app in Uganda and why. He said, Matatu. Then I asked if he knew how much the likes of Jumia and Uber have injected in driving their app downloads. He said he was aware, but I'm sure he doesn't know.

So we went back and forth with me trying to get him to understand on his own that he had a better way to kickstart without an app. At worst, I expected him to have a website.

Going back to Allan...

Allan was heading the same direction. His guess was that coming up with a cool website would automatically solve his problems of getting users. He thinks that if he opens up a Facebook page and LinkedIn Group/page, as recommended by me, his users wouldn't come.

But then I informed him that BrighterMonday & Jumia Jobs are in the same sphere with slightly a decent amount of funding but BrighterMonday is struggling here.

Secondly, there's Workable, Monster, and a whole host of websites that one can use in case they want to generate CVs.

If one wanted a CV in Uganda, chances are they're not looking to go to a website and generate it there. What they're looking for is a one-on-one with the person working on it.

To cut this short, I recommended that he starts with a Facebook page/group and a LinkedIn page/group. This would keep his MVP as an MVP.

Yet this doesn't only go to Allan and my OB. It goes out to all wantrepreneurs. Having an attractive application or product is really satisfying but is not necessary.

On the contrary, I recommend that you start with something really basic and keep building on that. Remember these words from Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, "If you are not embarrassed by the first version (Minimum Viable Product) of your product, you’ve launched too late."

Digest Africa


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