How a $20 MVP Has Made Me $X0,000

For months before I launched 5KMVP, I had been running experiments on Hacker News.

Part of the experiment was to validate my thesis.

Thesis: At some fixed price point, people are willing to invest in building an MVP.

After getting some leads (and projects), over the space of a few months, from HN and talking to many people (from Twitter and HN), a few things jumped out at me.

  1. The $5K price point is perfect for what I want to do. It is high enough to weed out people that would likely not value what I bring to the table. It is low enough to reduce friction to get potential customers to say ‘Yes’. It also provides the perfect jumping off point for larger projects. I tried other price points too, from $3K to $7K to $10K. $5K works best for MVPs.
  2. Fixed budget & timeline work well - leaving variable scope (to be negotiated with the client). Given that this is an MVP, that works well - because the focus should be on the core ‘viable product’ portion of the MVP. So bells & whistles need to be cut.
  3. Targeting customers that know what an MVP is, also helps to improve the quality of clients I interact with. They don’t want a web page that their cousin’s son-in-law’s first cousin can build for them, when s(he) is not fixing computers. They want helping figuring out what is their MVP and how should they build it.
These realizations gave me the confidence to setup a landing page for a service dedicated to building minimum viable products.

The next decision I had to make was….what will my landing page do? Given that I am a Rails dev, will it be a Rails App? I spoke to a few trusted colleagues and got a variety of responses. Some feedback I got was that I should build a minimalist Rails App that handles the entire engagement (i.e. someone fills out a form, and it pushes that form down a funnel and has all these nice features that allow them to pay easily and keep track of the project as it progresses).

I liked the idea at first, but it didn’t quite sit well with the notion of an MVP. What kept playing in a loop in my head is that I needed to validate the $5K MVP idea before devoting any significant development time to building an app for it.

So I bought a theme from Themeforest (roughly $20) and decided to go meta. Make as minimal an MVP as I can, that validates my hypothesis.

I have one call to action button which is a simple ‘mailto:’ button - that launches your email client. Perfect? No…..but it gets the job done. People that want an MVP built, don’t want to have to interact with a fancy system. They just want the quickest and easiest way to get in touch with me. Email is that way.

I worked on the copy, got my portfolio together and just put it together in a day or 2.

Then, I used Github Pages to host it (free) along with Google Apps (also free) and launched.

Tweeted it, posted on HN, and wrote a guest post on Techcrunch.

I am pleased to announce that it has been validated many times over.

I have gotten multiple projects directly from 5KMVP - at least 1 of which is a multiple of a 5KMVP. It is a multi-phase project that is broken up into manageable chunks. 

The best thing about this experiment is that 5KMVP is proof positive of me eating my own dogfood. It is also a “successful” case study, about correctly deciding what your MVP should be based on what your business goals are. 

If you liked this, you should follow me on Twitter.