Building an MVP for less than £5k

6 solutions you can use to get up and running right now!

5 mins

A couple of months ago I blogged about ‘8 things I tell start-ups during their initial consultation’, which I’m sure you’ve all read, remembered, and digested. Just in case you haven’t, however, I’ve helpfully linked to it like some blogging pro.

Back in March I was introduced to a delightful chap called Derek, who wanted to create a start-up that – quite literally – put everyone’s honesty box signs on the map. You know the ones I mean; ‘eggs for sale’, or ‘punnets of strawberries’ signs painted on a scrap of board, propped up against a hedge to be noticed when bombing down a lane just off the A21, or trundling around a windy road in the Channel Islands.

I thought this was a cracking idea. Promoting locally grown produce is exactly what we should be doing as a society, and democratising knowledge of these little hidden gems is something that tech can help with – easily. Thus, I was instantly intrigued. Also, there was something Covid-relevant about the project. It was nice to think we could help keep local communities thriving – let’s face it – during a potentially isolating and difficult time.

During our initial conversation, it became clear that the idea was untested and the budget small. Being a man of my word, I did not let these facts deter me and we started looking at all the services out there which might be able to help Derek get his start-up going.

There are many services out there that enable your idea to cut its teeth. If it fits a well-trodden business or software model, then rarely is there a reason to build from the ground up, at least to start with. The issue with these readily available systems is a certain lack flexibility. So, if your idea takes off, there will come a time where you’ll need different functionality, a more sophisticated user interface or some type of integration the original service hasn’t thought of.

The best of those services know this however, so many – or at least the ones I’m about to list – offer an API so custom user interfaces, mobile apps, integrations and extensions can all be built around the core service that they offer.

1. Your market place start-up

Market places – like Airbnb, like Etsy, or in Derek’s case, like MyHedgeVeg – are where buyers and sellers meet. Sharetribe is like an e-commerce platform, but you have multiple sellers as well as buyers. It handles services and products making it pretty flexible. That said the user interface settings are pretty limiting, so it probably wouldn’t be that long until you would want to upgrade to its enterprise tier – Sharetribe Flex which exposes the service’s API.

2. Your subscription service start-up

Vegetables, bacon, coffee, socks, booze and yes, even bloody bog roll – these days I’m pretty certain you could complete your weekly shop with subscription boxes alone. It’s perfectly understandable to want to join the band wagon, however, and Subbly isn’t a bad place to start.

3. Your e-commerce start-up

Selling stuff online is hardly a new thing. I’m not going to write more than 3 sentences about it. There are more e-commerce platforms than anyone would care to mention, but Shopify is as good as any.

4. Your community-based start-up

As they say, if it’s good enough for Matt Hancock, it’s good enough for you. No one says that, but Disciple could get you up and running pretty quickly.

5. Your video on demand start-up

So if you fancy starting up some type of Udemy-style clone and you have video material you think people might want to buy, then Vimeo OTT, is an established route to take.

6. Your audio and visual streaming start-up

Just going to add this in because we’ve built it! Spork has recently created streaming service 4forty.io. We’re pretty excited about it, if I’m honest, so if you’re an organisation thinking about streaming content (live or archived) then please do get in touch.

So, you see, you really don’t have to spend your entire life savings just to get up and running. There are, of course, more categories of start-ups, with more solutions per category, but hopefully this post gives you a sense of the options out there.

When you do need the more sophisticated solution requiring the API, or even something bespoke built from the ground up, don’t panic! We can help with that. But, the likelihood is you’ll need some investment to make that happen.

My advice is always to start with the above to get up and running. If you can back your idea up with a user cohort of a few thousand, or some legitimate revenue, you might well get investors sitting up and listening.

In most cases you’ll get 80% without any developer input too. Derek did, and then he asked us to set up a few things at the end, including a quick WordPress build to handle the brochure part of his site. And MyHedgeVeg was born.

If you’d like a friendly chat about an idea of yours, then we’d love to hear from you. We like to help, give honest advice, and have the appetite to be with our clients for the long haul.

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