Tiller Labs

Get an MVP in 30 days for $18k

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$18k for an MVP?! That is a LOT of money. Built in Meteor - which is one of the easiest ways for non-devs to start coding IMO (I even made a few sites with it) I think it would be a major red-flag for any future investors if founders went to them and said they spent $18k on an MVP. It's the 'easy' (& expensive) way out. I think it shows personality flaws on the founders part. First iterations should be built by the founders or cost next to nothing (time will be the big cost) - but I think it's important for founders to show the determination, show they can see things through and have a basic understanding of what a development process looks like at least. Also, with products like Bubble, Weld Websites, Webflow and others, there are so many ways to easily create/replicate sites at ease for a decent MVP.
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@bentossell | Hey Ben, so I have to respectfully disagree with you as you've respectfully disagreed with Ria. ;) The first thing I'll mention is that the types of MVPs we're building couldn't ever be built in something like Webflow (which our creative agency uses quite frequently). Tiller Labs builds web apps, from design to UX to code. As we've compared prices, we've found that the average cost paid for an MVP *can* be much lower or it could trail up into the $30-$50k range. The second thing I'll mention is that your comments (while I'm sure are well intentioned!) are also not applicable to everyone. I don't develop applications as I'm on the design side of the equation, which is why it would have been impossible for me to get my startup launched on my own as you suggested. I tried partnering, paying top dollar and even outsourcing via E-lance to India. It took 2+ years and 4 rounds of developers. Tiller Labs was born out of that frustration and my realization that having my MVP and getting it back in my hands within 30 days was well worth the this price tag. In the end, I put far more money into my MVP + time + energy than $18k. Of course, there are those who can build a web app from scratch and we absolutely encourage that! And last, we love Meteor and we're doing some pretty powerful things with it. ;) Appreciate your input, man! If you have any more comments/questions please feel free to leave it here!
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@nateembrey Understood and maybe some, more complex MVPs can't be built in other applications. But I do think an MVP should be as simple as possible. Of course I understand that it's not for everyone and I was coming from the standpoint of the tech-startup community, in which there are always a variety of views anyway. I don't code (like at all) and I tried learning but felt I could be using my time best elsewhere. I joined a few slack groups and within 3 months I had one of the best makers on Product Hunt develop my site for me. I didn't have to pay a penny and I went from idea to launch in around 3-4 months (now one of the top performing sites on the whole of Product Hunt). Again I understand this situation doesn't stand for everyone but I strongly believe that if you are in this startup world then you can quite easily get help without the fuss, hassle and cost if you look in the right places and go by the mantra of give value without expecting anything back. Anyway, that comes from my story and many things I've read - but not shrugging off that certain use-cases would benefit from this service. Do you offer any other tiers? So for example if I'd built a simple web app in one of the services mentioned before, and wanted you to just help give it that extra edge? Also, what is the most common piece of feedback you've received from past customers?
@bentossell Hey Ben, I'm confused how did you build a few sites in Meteor when you also stated that you didn't code at all?
@gaiapunk I attempted to learn to code last year. Made a few applications badly. Got stuck, gave up. If you sat me down now and told me to open command line, I wouldn't know what to start typing. Hence - I don't code.
@nateembrey @bentossell I actually think the major issue with all of this is using a silly word like MVP and thinking this term actually translates to every single product offering imaginable, in addition to it's association with founders and them getting real world feedback as soon as possible to build for market fit. Minimum viable product...Apples MVP for the iPhone was a giant computer with a huge chunk of glass looked nothing like a "cell phone". The goal is not about getting a version 1 or a version 10 out asap that has the title of an "MVP"... It is about time, and it is about resources...it is validating market fit as soon as possible and doing so by spending the least amount of money as possible. Both are not mutually exclusive. I think anytime we try and go about this in the sense that we can separate market fit from the MVP or that we can spend $18,000 and it translates into a perfect product or a usable one is where they point gets blurry. It's hard to built a business any business and I believe Ben's comment which was really his insight given he's seen countless startups, fail and fail well because they don't maximize their resources. I should know being that I'm a product designer and have been doing that for 10 years and ran a design firm and I've seen countless clients want to pay me $xx,xxx-$xxx,xxx on stuff even as an MVP not even on the development side of things on stuff they need to first get to market and test the fit. marketing has never ever saved a bad product...you can't buy people and so you can't buy business sucess so I think knowing what you're getting into and not just thinking $18k solves every issue and means you will have a killer app or idea because you blew almost $20k is all I think we're getting at. We all want the same thing for people to excel and succeed and offering tools and services to empower them to do so...but it's still up to these people to know what they are getting themselves into so I think the educational side of things needs to be more apparent if this is to really change especially for those who aren't technical and simply ignore this and just go and hack things on their own.
I think one of the biggest issues that faces non-technical founders is finding someone to help them build their idea; sometimes this alone can take months. The whole point of an MVP is that it's shipped as quickly as possible so you can start validating, so I think this is a great idea. It's obviously not going to be the best solution for everyone, especially if they're fortunate enough to have a founding team that ticks all the boxes skills-wise, but if it comes down to spending $18k (providing you have it) versus potentially wasting a lot of time hunting for a developer to join your team, it's definitely worth thinking about as an option. I also love Tiller Labs' own website; it gives me confidence that they'd be able to build something that looks pretty sweet!
@riaface respectfully disagree as per my points above :)
@bentossell I'm sure you're not the only one :) I'd definitely be interested to hear the founders' take on your comments, but I personally know a couple of people who really struggled to find a technical co-founder and had no option but to outsource. One of these was an older lady who believes that people were put off by her age (and, to a lesser degree, gender); she had funding based on her concept and ended up spending well in excess of $18k for her MVP. As I said, it's definitely not for everyone, but as a concept (quick, on-tap MVPs), I think it's potentially an option for some.
@riaface true. I guess I was not particularly thinking of people not in the tech-startup world. I still stand by my points but agreed that in some cases this could be an option. Although a lot of people like building stuff for free, but you do have to invest time into getting to know people/communities/etc
@bentossell @riaface Added my input to Ben's initial post. Hope some of those points help put some scope to this!
@riaface +1. As a non-technical founder, I don't see this as a lazy way out of doing the hard work of building a startup. It's a way for someone with an idea to get it built and start validating it. Like Ben, I've dabbled with learning to code, but my time is better spent doing the things I'm already good at rather than suffering through learning to code or jumping from technical co-founder to technical co-founder. I don't see the value in suffering for the sake of suffering, just so that I can earn my "I worked real hard" startup merit badge. The MVP is step one, there's still plenty of hard work to be done and plenty of opportunity to get my startup street cred.
@moritz | Thanks, sir! That will auto-deploy and fix it in about 1 minute. No need to refresh because...Meteor.
this is smart - Meteor is a great technology choice for prototyping and $18k/month is pretty reasonable I think ($9k/month/person) - good luck with it :)
@jongold | Right on, man. Thanks a lot for chiming in. A quick note, the breakdown for payout on our end is quite a bit more complicated than splitting it down the middle. We do have a few employed/contacted devs and designers + overhead + other miscellaneous costs. We're doing this for what we feel is a fair and modest price, especially considering turnaround and the custom nature of what we're doing for a client! Thanks again for the comment and for the well-wishes! Cheers.
I've had the idea to market myself in this way for a long time, but I haven't. Unfortunately it ends up being a race to the bottom, and people will sadly usually go with the cheaper solution even if that's worse for them in the long run. If I were to try to do something like this, I think I'd focus more on the fact that you're getting access to team of experienced makers for a month, who can (and previously have) created some amazing things in that amount time. Good luck though, as I do think the industry needs to start thinking more about teams that can work well together, rather than hiring a "10x developer", and it looks like you guys are a great team!
@mubashariqbal | Dude, yes. This is exactly where we are. We do have a few others on our team but the brunt of the work is Jason and I and we show up to turn out a quality app that does what it's supposed to in a strong and beautiful way. This resonates with us a lot. Thanks!