The first rule of startups: Validate your idea before you build. I didn’t.
No-code can be a dangerous habit.
Prior to my discovery of the no-code movement, my entire life was spent validating ideas.
I would have spent weeks pitching my friends on my “big idea”, creating mock-ups in Photoshop, putting up a fake landing page website, and perhaps even talkingto programmers knowing I didn’t have the confidence or money to ask them tospend significant portions of their time on making my idea.
This discovery meant the only time I would be wasting was my own.
A few days after this revelatory moment, I met a kind woman who runs a charity in the north of England which provides breaks, such as hotel stays, theatre tickets,or restaurant vouchers, for unpaid carers, usually those caring for sick family members.
She told me she often gets lovely messages from the carers about the experiences. We discussed how it would be incredible if they could send her short videotestimonials which she could then share with the companies who donated thebreaks.
Emboldened with my latest discovery, I told her I’d see what I could do.
That evening I built a basic working prototype of the functionality I wanted using no-code platform Bubble.io in about 3 hours. Over the next few days I refined it and improved the styling. Within a week, working just an hour or two each night, I had a fully functional web application ready to go.
Common startup wisdom says I had already done too much. I shouldn’t have started building until I’d validated my idea with more than just one person.
But the excitement of finally being able to create got the better of me. And, if I’m honest, I’d started out to prove to myself I could make something that actually works. The fact that it quickly turned into a functional prototype is a true testament to the creators of Bubble.
I probably should have asked her to try it then. But I didn’t. Unfortunately my initially-simple MVP quickly grew into a feature-rich application. In my head at least.
Fast-forward to January, a good three months after starting, and I was just about happy with what I’d made. It may sound like a long time, but to put it into context, I have a family with a young child and a day job as co-founder of a startup, which really doesn’t equate to much free time.
I called the app Vidpops, a play on the term voxpops. Surprisingly, vidpops.com was available. It might be the first time I’ve ever found a name I liked with a .com domain available.
Currently, the app does the following:
The big question.Where the rubber meets the road. I’ve built something. It’s even got subscription payments. But who’s going to use it, let alone pay for it?
My untested theory is as follows:
Side note: My partner is a filmmaker and received this video testimonial a few years ago. This is what a good video testimonial looks like.
Given I didn’t do any market research before building Vidpops, I’m adopting a scattergun approach to finding product-market fit.
My criteria for the market:
Markets I’m trying:
I’ve contacted friends or acquaintances in all these areas to give them free beta testing accounts and will seek feedback from them in a few weeks.
If you think your business fits the criteria, or just if you want to try it out anyway, please get in touch. I’d be happy to include you as a tester.
Otherwise please subscribe to my newsletter to see how my experiments go. I'll be posting more about my progress with Vidpops and other projects.