The MVP. It’s not a new concept, but in the past decade it’s seen widespread adoption and significantly changed how we approach building new companies.
In years past, companies would build an entire product (full suite of features and all) in full-on stealth mode, have a big launch party, pop some champagne, and let the customers pile in. Although, that’s usually not how things actually went down.
Too often, there’d be a launch party with the hoopla, but the customers didn’t roll in as fast as planned. Soon the team would realize they made a fatal mistake: they built a product nobody actually wanted (or needed)! This was the fate of hundreds of startups every year, as company after company suffered the same fate, and failed to successfully get their product into the hands of users.
The MVP philosophy helped solve that problem. Introduced 2001, and popularized by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup, companies began to ship smaller products faster. These products were tested and iterated on constantly, all with the help of feedback from their users along the way. Genius!
That said, no system is perfect. Even this revolutionary approach of building MVPs, no matter how small, can be improved.
What happens when your MVP is successful?
There’s no denying the value of MVPs for startups. At Chassi, we embrace the philosophy of MVPs and will continue to do so. MVPs can hint that the founders should shift their company in a new direction. They can even alert the founders to abandon entire ideas flat out.
But what happens when the MVP is a success?
It’s important to note that in an effort to rapidly build and test an idea, MVPs are often built by combining separate microservices and single-point solutions that were never designed to work together. So what do you do? You duct tape and hack them together. But that won’t hold forever.
Eventually, as your company scales, you will need to refactor large amounts of code because you hard-coded your features to a specific version of your plans. Afterall, you were building your MVP to test an idea, not build a robust, ready-for-scale foundation for your company. Address this issue too late, and it could cost you millions (we’ve experienced this first-hand). Too early, and you likely won’t have the resources or capital necessary to devote to the problem in the first place.
Herein lies a fundamental issue with the MVP. The entire code base is often built to be scrapped. You can build as rapidly as possible to save on time wasted, but by writing throw-away code into your Application Core you’re automatically committing yourself to larger problems in the future.
Hacking together single-point-solutions is wasting time, money, and resources
This method of building MVPs—hacking together single-point-solutions—is what we’ve come to call the “Frankenstein” model. All of these 3rd party solutions, stitched together with hard code, creates a rigid, inflexible foundation for your company to scale. We all know what it’s like to hard-code a complex pricing model or feature into an application, and then spend weeks or months refactoring code to test a new approach. It’s a waste of time, money, and resources.
Let’s be frank (no pun intended): Frankenstein models do work, but at the cost of limiting the long-term potential and agility of a product with massive amounts of technical debt. Until now, it’s made sense; there hasn’t been another option. But just because stitching together platforms has become the norm doesn’t mean it’s ideal.
The way we see it, the goal for most companies is to ship code as fast as possible. But what if it was possible to ship a better product, just as fast, and be ready for scale? What if you could launch your MVP with V10 capabilities, right from the start, and avoid the Frankenstein model entirely?
Avoid building a Frankenstein
Two years ago, we decided there has to be a better way. We’ve built successful companies in the past, and have faced the reality and challenges that building a hacked-together, inflexible Application Core presents. That’s why we’re building Chassi—to tackle that problem head on.
At Chassi, we’re building a developer-focused, open platform that allows you to focus on what matters most—your big idea. With our initial offering of 5 business-critical APIs, you’ll finally be able to build your company on a scalable foundation right from the start, and eliminate an immense amount of technical debt in the process.
Sign up for Chassi Early Access
We’re super excited to get Chassi into the hands of builders like you. In the coming months we’ll be admitting people to the platform through our Early Access program. Sign up today to get access before we release to the public, and provide feedback that will help shape the way future software is built.
The Chassi Team
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