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How I Launched My MVP, Reputely, on HN (startupi.st)
42 points by dwynings on July 10, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments

This is not an MVP. It is a Dry Test. Lets try to clarify the jargon a little.


That said - I love the idea of your app :)

Pardon my bluntness, but since when did a website without any real functions qualify as an MVP? Does the P in MVP now mean pitch rather than product?

I've always considered a landing page or Google Ad as a legitimate MVP. http://venturehacks.com/articles/minimum-viable-product

if you like the idea behind MVProduct, then reducing it to a pitch/survey seems to be the next logical progression

I read and commented on the launch post when it happened. I thought it was actually a real service! (I didn't sign up, but suggested he show more demos and screenshots of how it works. Now I know why it didn't have any).

On one hand, I think this kind of planning is pretty clever, and definitely may steal a page or two from it.

On the other hand, I feel kinda tricked :( I was a labrat, run through a maze, at no benefit to myself for giving up that information (not that I was expecting anything in return).

I felt the same way, and commented on the original post about lack of documentation and actually showing the potential user something.

I thought that maybe it was a dry run test, but didn't want to accuse Dru of not having any product when it was possible he had spent months building this.

It's a shame that in order to test out hypothesis and expect to get adequate feedback, it has come to lying to customers about the product being offered. Particularly when they have a 'free - get started' button, making the user think they are about to get the product.

Nowhere on the sign-up page does it say the product is in beta testing (which of course it isn't, it's just an idea at the moment).

I'm all for discovering what the customer wants.

I'm not for telling the customer you have something to offer when you don't.

While I'm also not too fond of the deception - especially when you come back later to the same people and admit it was a ruse of sorts, he did seem to get good results and publicity. These posts have definitely garnered far more attention than some of my startups' own posts that linked to our idea and asked for feedback on what is the exact same idea.

So Reputely: kudos, good luck, and game on.

Sorry about that!

That's one of the potential downsides, but the information is so valuable that I think it's worth risking (to a certain extent).

There are several actual companies with products up and running that provide this service (http://www.bigdoor.com/ http://levlr.com and http://www.badgeville.com) are the first that come to mind. Do you think you've put yourself at a disadvantage by not having a product ready to go after getting publicity?

Yes there are competitors but I'm not quite sure that the sites you mentioned are that. I Believe what http://www.Reputely.com is wanting to do is more similar to http://www.BunchBall.com and my startup http://www.IActionable.com. Basically something called 'Game Mechanics as a Service'. Where the service provided are achievements, rewards and points for your existing applications. http://www.BigDoor.com seems to have focused on the Virtual Currency aspect of Game Mechanics.

Sites like http://www.levlr.com, http://www.epicwinapp.com, http://www.kuwest.com and maybe http://www.badgeville.com (not sure) don't seem to be this at all. They seem more like twitter apps with points attached. These systems are based on the 'honor system' since you can't really prove anyone did anything.

There seems to also be a breed of service that is somewhere in between. Where your application does the hard work of determining when a user has earned the points or reward and just tells another service to 'store' that. Our startup originally went down this road but HN quickly gave us feedback and said they didn't like the idea of sites doing all the hard work and then just letting someone else store that reputation data. Now we are more similar to BunchBall in that we actually provide a configurable rule engine which awards the items to your users for you.

I think its interesting to see so many companies 'go public' all at once. Like dwynings says on his blog, other companies coming out just validates the market. Now its time to actually deliver something. :)

Wow, I feel really late to the game. Had no idea what MVP stood for and had to look it up. This looks like a pretty awesome approach to test the market for new product ideas instead of building blindly and hoping it sticks. This also reminds of the "ghetto testing" practices I've read about, especially within the social gaming realm.

Can anyone recommend other articles about MVP? The article's author also mentioned that he used HN as a good starting place; does anyone have links to those posts?

EDIT: Looks like the original post was just from a week ago, and I actually read it :) It's here for anyone that's curious: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1482834

Read through this blog and you'll be up to speed:


Based on Dru's post and the inspiration of http://whileyouwereonfacebook.com I launched http://rrsptaxadvisor.com. Thanks Dru.

(RRSPs for Canadians are like IRAs for Americans. Except when Canadians move across the border their RRSPs aren't treated as pensions for U.S. income tax purposes, so all of a sudden they have to pay income tax on the investment earnings inside their RRSPs.)

Extremely niche.

I'm not expecting to make a ton of money on this. It's just a proof of concept to see if I can get away from being a well-paid wage slave.

Total cost = two domain names at GoDaddy using the cjc689not code :-) plus WordPress (free) plus a theme (free) plus a bit of time last night (not free, but...) plus yet another domain hosted on Bluehost (free).

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly. JFDI. Right?


EDIT: also inspired by seeing http://custdev.com and how easy it was to sell an ebook.

I see two aspects of this approach to MVP: (1). it does enable you to test your market with minimal cost, so you can fail-fast (and for it to be accurate, it has to portray the business as existing); (2). it is saying something that isn't true.

> I’ve got a dialogue with my target customers, who are amazingly passionate about Reputely and really want to help.

My question is: do your target customers still want to help etc after they find out the truth? It seems to me that it would put people off - but that's just an opinion/hypothesis. What, in fact, happens?

That was very clever and a pretty eye opening way of judging the market before you start hardcore development work. Thanks for sharing.

It seems kind of like how some food places will advertise in a market a year or more before they build their first place and gauge response by website visits and phone calls from the area.

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