Developing MVP without a Technical Team: Part 2

Sat Aug 07 2021

On my last blog I discussed the different types of risks you encounter when creating your product. We reflect on these risks to help you decide if you absolutely need to find a technical co-founder/team or if you could opt for other alternatives. If you have carefully thought about the risk your product has and have concluded that you want to explore alternative technical routes this blog is for you. The blog will tell you what alternatives there are and what to consider when deciding which one to go for.

One thing we often see startup founders do is offshore or outsource development. Our team tends to, however, discourage this for several reasons. You may get lucky outsourcing your development with a fantastic team, but most likely you won’t know the quality until it’s too late. Worse yet, it’s difficult to tell things like code quality if you are not technical yourself (this can easily lead to others trying to pull wool over your eyes).

As an engineer on staff, I’m incentivised to write maintainable code because if I do not, it’ll eventually come back to bite me months or years in the future (because I’m the one to maintain it). However, at consultancy and outsourcing agencies, I’ve often seen them hand off projects with huge tech debt and spaghetti code that basically needs to be rewritten from scratch to make any change. After a contracted project is finished, it no longer directly impacts those engineers anymore.

Within startups, this often manifests itself as contractors spending three months, then giving a product to you and leaving. Unfortunately, this makes product iteration hard or borderline impossible; if your specification to the offshore team is not exactly what the market wants, or they don’t follow your specification to a T, you won’t end up with a usable product. If iterating our product countless times taught us anything, it’s that founders are almost always wrong (at least initially) at what their MVP is, and if working in the industry for years taught me anything, it’s that people are horrible at software specifications and knowing (and saying) what they want.

What to do instead

No Code movement

There has been an increase in the “low-code/no-code” movement with a plethora of tools sprouting up everywhere. Specifically these tools seek to empower non technical folks to build their ideas themself. These tools tend to be graphical in nature and allow you to drag and drop functionality into your app, then export it as a fully baked app.

It is important to make sure of two things before deciding to work with a tool. First, look into the company who developed it; do they look like they will go out of business any time soon? What is the quality of their website and tool? What other products have been built through this tool? Next, make sure that the functionality which you need for your MVP is actually supported in this no code tool. If you need a map feature and no such “widget” exists, or you need a social network and no backend exists, maybe don’t go with that tool. It is important to make sure of these two things to prevent vendor lock-in to a bad platform.

If you can find a no code tool which seems capable of building your app, you’ll probably be able to build it and test it within a matter of days, so have fun iterating!

Graphical Mockups

If you can’t find a no-code environment but want to get started iterating, try making a graphical mockup in Figma or a similar product. You can add basic functionality to the wireframe (e.g. clicking) that will allow you to gather feedback and iterate. You can use this to try to hone in on what you want your product to look like. After you’ve iterated and come to something you think works, get some letters of intent or a waiting list, raise on that, and hire the technical team to build it.

Learn it!

Finally, don’t be afraid to delve in and learn some code! I promise it’s not as hard as it seems once you get started. Go through a curriculum such as those on CodeAcademy to learn basic programming concepts. Then apply your knowledge on some low coding platforms such as Microsoft PowerApps.

If you have any questions on this, need some guidance on how to get started coding, want to chat machine learning stuff, or just want to chat, feel free to reach out to me at