Over the last few months, many people have asked me what technologies and marketing tooks I use to build minimum viable products (MVPs). I decided to write this post to talk about this topic, but please bear in mind that there is no unique recipe for success, and if you ask the same question to another digital entrepreneur, he might like to use different tools - and that's fine.
First, when you bootstrap your startup project and in order for you to do it quickly, I think you should outsource as little as possible, and do as much as you can by yourself. I've seen many founders struggling to build their business because they had to wait days to modify an essential feature of their product, and this just because their outsourced developer was not available. If you have full control over your tech environment, you can do changes on the fly, and I can guarantee you that your users will appreciate your reaction time. Anyhow, here are my favorite technologies I use to build MVPs as well as the primary services I use to reach out to my targeted audience.
- I build the MVP as fast as possible - it usually takes me from a few days to a few weeks - in order to quickly test my business idea. I use either Ruby on Rails for basic web applications or Grape if I need to build the MVP to be built as an API. But I also think that you can use any framework you like at this stage. Just build your MVP and test if people want what you are developing as fast as possible.
- I use either Heroku or AWS to host my code. I personally like to mange all my infrastructure from a to z, so I generally use AWS, but this implies you know how to mange servers, how to set up load balancers, etc... Heroku is more intuitive and gets you started quicker.
- I ensure that my websites get HTTPS connection by integrating with Cloudflare. Standard HTTP is outdated and penalised by most seach engines.
- I use AWS for file storage. It's cheap and easy to set up.
- I use all sort of databases - Postgres, SQL, Redis, etc. - depending on the functionalities I need. Just use the ones you are more familiar with, it won't break your application unless you are building a social network where you need databases specifically developped for that.
- Since I'm a little concerned about being hacked, I've also implemented a couple of internal tools to handle app and infrastructure attacks such as preventing malicious bots to access my apps.
- I use Angular or React.js for pages that require seemingly live experience.
- I like Gimp for image manipulation since it's open source and a good alternative to Photoshop.
- I use ReactNative to build mobile applications when a simple responsive web application is not enough to win over the targeted audience.
- I like the Ionic framework to build non-native mobile apps when a mobile app is required but it doens't have to be as perfect as the ones you could build with native mobile code language.
- I use Stripe for subscription payments. I think it's the easiest solution to set up and probably the best regarding user experience.
- I use Paypal to enable chained payments when I need to build a marketplace. It's slightly less developer friendly, but it guarantees payments to be made - and money to be received - almost worldwide.
- Google analytics is an industry standard and therefore a must. No need to comment here.
- I like Hootsuite to manage all my social media accounts. I find it very practical since it allows you to manage the main social media from just one place.
- I install a live chat in all my applications since I'm obsessed with engaging with my potential customers. I like tp use Drift, but there are many other options.
- I do all I can to track what happens on the website. I've built my internal analytics tool to track who does what and try to understand why.
- I always A/B test the most important pages, from signup to subscription pages. Again, I use a proprietary internal tool to do this.
- Ahref is probably the best tool out there to search and monitor your competitors, but it's also a little pricey for my taste. So, I usually end up using a mix of the following services:
- Google Adwords and Facebook ads are the main tool I use when it comes to paid marketing. I've heard that ads on Instagram can produce good results but I've never used them myself.
There are a ton of other app-specific tools that I regularly use - such as the ones dealing with machine learning or the blockchain - but I'll discuss those in future posts. There you go, this was a very quick post if you have any questions or want more information, do not hesitate to get in touch with me, either on twitter or here using the chat feature.