Eyal Toledano

@eyaltoledano

12 MVPs in 12 Months – Idle Progress, Spousal Inspiration & MVP #2

We’re in the trenches now. Only one month in, our MVP adventure of launching 12 new products this year is showing its first signs of challenge.

As expected, the challenge is not technical, it is systemic.

When you choose to take on such a big challenge off what amounts to part-time focus, every move and decision you make must teach something new, lest you find yourself lacking focus by doing a little bit of everything – and by extension, nothing.

In that regard, we’ve got Learning Afterburners on, and every day feels like it brings along two days worth of insights.

I’ve graduated two freelance clients this month, which opened up time to put even more love into growing my favorite AI startup Sensay (we added 1M users in Q4 2016!) and take the MVP challenge trough its next iteration.

Idle Recap

In January, we got started building Idle only to scrap the code and have it built by a third party (without going into detail, Mubs had to step away). It’s close to completion now but we’ve decided that as part of the challenge, Idle will stayed benched until it reaches a higher level of product polish.

Based on initial demand, Idle is clearly a valuable piece of social technology and it would be best to deliver a polished version of that rather than focusing on answering whether the product has any potential at all (which is the goal of each MVP after all).

In short – Idle has all but self-validated before being built, and thus it is being placed outside of the challenge. What’s important is that we know Idle should be built. Thus its role in our challenge is complete.

It will be useful to build a business model mapping out Idle’s growth over the next year and deciding on a launch date now that we can expect Tier 3 performance or better from it.

We’ll be setting up all of the marketing infrastructure after Version 1 is complete. For now, we’re polishing the app and focusing on building a useful product experience.

The next step while we work on making the MVP feature complete is to set it up with waiting list functionality. This way we can enable the inbound interest we are seeing to take action by sharing Idle with their networks while securing early (free) access to the app.

Spousal Inspiration

In the meantime, something really cool happened last week.

My wife Alicia took her first steps towards entrepreneurship. Given my level of involvement actually building and supporting her in validating her venture, I figured I would throw that into the challenge. She’ll own one of the MVPs. The perfect learning opportunity.

That leads up to the meat of the update, which introduces MVP #2: CakeMyBake.

MVP #2: CakeMyBake.com

My wife is a certified accountant, a damn good one at that.

When she decided to leave her job at a top accounting firm, the goal was to explore and get up to speed on the ways she might leverage technology to solve problems in the accounting world and elsewhere.

In the middle of this soul-searching, she finds herself a talented amateur baker. A hypothesis formed; whether her baking was worth any money given the raving feedback she has received from coworkers or family members.

Developing the idea further gave birth to CakeMyBake, a marketplace helping bakers sell homemade cakes and pastries to foodies in their neighbourhood.

The model she seeks to build would behave similarly to other on-demand marketplaces. She would build a supply of home bakers in a given city and match that supply to local demand for homemade baked goods.

The value proposition is pretty strong on both sides, but what matters when building marketplaces is liquidity.

Liquidity is another way to describe equilibrium between supply and demand. The only way your marketplace has any chance to become liquid is if the markets it brings together are initially fragmented.

Fragmented markets make for great marketplaces.

In the case of CakeMyBake, I asked how fragmented the market of buying and selling homemade baked goods was, and Alicia replied with hard evidence.

She showed tens of local Facebook group posts by home bakers showcasing their goods and matching comments of interested buyers.

Interested, I took the weekend to put together a working prototype.

Alicia worked on building out our Instagram page and identifying early Supply opportunities in Montreal, the first city CakeMyBake will launch in.

One week later, this second MVP is showing strong signs of healthy market fit. A few more steps are left to give this thing a preliminary thumbs up.

Notably, Alicia was successful in building supply. She started by listing her own baked goods and then new signups began to trickle in. Her next task is to prove she can match demand against her supply.

Her hypothesis is that she needs more supply to create an attractive browsing experience for new visitors. She judges direct-linking to products to be secondary compared to building a brand.

She’s learning quick. 🚀

Recap

February is showing another big opportunity to learn and apply techniques we’ve picked up over the years.

I haven’t had many opportunities to build marketplaces from the ground up. Unless you can offload your supply really quickly (ie. digital products), there’s sales cycling and logistics to think about in the long run.

But thinking about an on-demand homemade bakery you can order from your phone sounds really cool. This is also true of enabling home bakers to sell more efficiently and offer local communities access to delicious treats available right down their street.

So for now, much of our progress can be summarized as:

  • MVP #1 is nearly feature complete, has been demand-validated; will not be reported on until ready to launch
  • My entrepreneurship experiment inspired 40 new subscribers and my own wife to take action.
  • MVP #2 CakeMyBake was ideated and launched in one weekend. It currently counts 6 suppliers and 20 listings.
  • The CakeMyBake Instagram account was created grew by 330 followers in its first 7 days of existence. With a followerbase heavily skewing in Montreal. Woah. Nicely done.
  • Another MVP is in ideation, but I need to prepare to bucker down on Idle once it’s ready. It might make sense to stop production and focus on building asset revenue first. Maybe Q2 should be about doubling down on existing MVPs
  • It’s interesting to consider that the model might be healthier if we build for three months then execute for three months. It reduces our shots to 6 per year, but we come out with a more polished portfolio at the end of the year. Food for thought.

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