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Cardano NFT-marketplace

The First NFT-marketplace on Cardano

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Designed and developed in collaboration with IOHK, a decentralized application on the Plutus platform. The created DApp is one of the first NFT marketplaces on Cardano.

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Who should be hired on the team to launch an MVP?

mvp launching rocket

At MetaLamp, we frequently and extensively work with startups. Judging by our conversations with founders, they often have the same problem – the need to assemble their team and look for partners, but It is unclear who should be brought on board and when, the skills they should possess, and what each of them will be responsible for.

In this article I would like to describe what specialists, experts and abilities should make up your team at different stages of your startup's development, based on our experience and the experience of our clients.

Since we are mostly concerned with the technical side, this article will not contain comments and opinions on the topic of finding people responsible for finance, fundraising, hiring employees, etc. The team’s structure is tied directly to the product’s creation and its various stages.

Prototyping an idea

This stage assumes that you already know what you are going to sell and to whom. Otherwise, it is worth taking a step back and conducting product research. We will provide details about the product research in a separate article.

This stage assumes that you already know what you are going to sell and to whom. Otherwise, it is worth taking a step back and conducting product research. We will provide details about the product research in a separate article.

The prototyping phase is to determine how the first version of the product will look and be developed in a way that satisfies early users. This requires the help of the following specialists:

  • UX/UI designer

In a broad sense, a UX\UI designer will work out the customer's path from the moment they get acquainted with your application to the moment they are satisfied with the provided service. In a narrower sense - he will create the interface of your product and determine how users will interact with it. The results of his work can be: CJM (Customer Journey Map), Design mockups of your app.

  • Developer

The participation of an experienced technical specialist will help to highlight and prepare for technical difficulties on the way to creating the first version, as well as to estimate the time and cost of development. For example, if your MVP requires integration with a third-party service, it is crucial that the developer has already, at this stage, studied the services, selected alternatives and proposed the best option. The result of his work should be: time and cost estimations, a plan for technical implementation, a release calendar (if you are planning to make several iterations in advance).

IMPORTANT: The designer and developer should be given an already formed portrait of the target audience and a described business need that you want to realize through your MVP. If you don't have such data yet, you should turn to the stage with product/marketing research.

Often, the UX\UI designer role in the first stages can be taken over by one of the founders, because the first version can be very simple. Sometimes an MVP can be limited to two or three screens with a minimum amount of data displayed.

Many startups with whom our team communicates try to make an MVP right away with a “beautiful” and “full-fledged” design in order to “immediately start driving user traffic to the product and get the first sales.” This approach may be justified in some cases, but in developing an MVP it is important to move quickly in short iterations and collect feedback from users as quickly as possible.

And sometimes it's better to make a quick, simple, poorly working (but still working) version and show it to your colleagues and friends who might be interested in it. These are not your first customers yet, so you don't have to be ashamed of a modest design and a huge number of bugs in front of them. However, even these early-stage users can provide highly valuable feedback that has the potential to significantly change the course of development.

Therefore, sometimes, the first design mockups of your MVP can be created without the designer's participation. But in the future, his participation will be critical.

MVP development and launch

At this stage, the work becomes more complex, requiring more specialists. To understand who exactly should be part of your team, it is important to understand what processes and results you need to achieve.

  • Product development

This process can involve either one specialist with a skill set sufficient for MVP development, or an entire team with different roles and tasks. The classic composition of a team for MVP development is frontend and backend developers. Sometimes these two competencies can be combined by one person – a full-stack developer. How many and what kind of specialists you need is an individual question. You should either rely on partners with technical expertise or turn to development studios. But usually, the first versions are built with a small team (1-4 specialists). Although in cases where the set of tasks is wide and deadlines are tight, quite large teams (10-15 people) can be assembled.

  • Management

At the moment when you have a whole team of specialists – there is a need to organize and control the process of their work. This is where project managers come into play. Their role is to organize communication, distribution and acceptance of tasks, as well as working through problems and changes that arise during the development process. This role can be assumed by the founder at the initial stages, but if MVP development is planned for more than one month, project management will turn into micromanagement for the founder, which eats up time and emotional resources.

This stage also involves the experts who have interacted with you before: the designer should oversee the result; the marketing or product specialists should advise the technical team on priorities and how the result fits with the ideas of the business.

In addition, the need for a technical director (CTO) becomes acute during the development phase. This role is responsible for the entire technical component of your product. The CTO is a single window for the entire team on development, release speed, and release quality.

This role is always filled by someone, even at the prototyping stage. But at the development stage, it is desirable to give this role to a single person, so that the team knows who to turn to for technical implementation of the product, and the founders are not distracted from other important issues – fundraising, marketing, sales.

This role in the early stages can be borne by:

  • Co-founder, partner, with technical competencies;
  • Hired experienced developer;
  • The studio to which you delegated the development of the MVP.

Which of these is better is, again, an individual question. In some cases, you should immediately look for a co-founder, in others, you should contact the studio.

Real CEO experience. Source: Quora

MVP testing and feedback collection

The release of your MVP has taken place. What to do next and what specialists may be needed at this stage? The answer depends on what your goal is for your MVP - first sales and/or feedback from first users.

Feedback from users

A classic set of actions for collecting feedback: demonstration of the product to users, interviewing users based on the results of using the system, formation of priorities and tasks for further development.

In large startups, this role is taken on by product managers and UX\UI designers (because it is important for them to understand how people interact with their interfaces). However, in large startups, prioritizing and collecting feedback from users is a very complex and multi-faceted process. In the early stages, when working on an MVP, this function is performed by the startup founder. But here again the issue of micromanagement and prioritization becomes relevant. If your main focus is fundraising, it may be worth delegating communication with users to your colleagues.

First sales

To find the first customers, the key specialists are, of course, marketers and sales managers. If the MVP is initially planned for first sales, you should think about marketing in advance, even at the prototyping and development stage. As previously described, this role is taken either by one of the founders or by hired employees. When to involve them is up to you.

Interesting case

An entrepreneur I know had an unpleasant situation.

He was developing an MVP and even before the start of development, he hired marketers whose task was to prepare the product for launch and attract the first customers. However, the release was delayed - Google Play took a very long time to verify his app and refused to place it several times. Each time, the application was sent for verification, it seemed that Google would still approve the project and the release would happen. Because of this, the sales and marketing team continued to be funded and not disbanded.

However, as a result, the release was delayed by 2 months and all this time the marketing and sales team was funded, which did not quite justifiably increase the costs of the launch.

So, you should always be careful with the issue of hiring a team, it may not be a good idea in the early stages to take on an employer and engage with everyone as project contractors.

Roman Shtih
CEO at MetaLamp

MVP Scaling

The term "MVP Scaling" is defined differently by different entrepreneurs. Some consider it to be the next big stage of development after the release of the first version, others define it as further development of the product after the first stable monthly revenue.

If we look at the issue specifically from a development point of view, then scaling begins when the team plans to measure the planning horizon of the release calendar for many months. This is the moment when it becomes clear that the project is a long game, and it is necessary to gather a full-fledged working team and work not only on speed, but also on quality.

When you go into a long and complex development, new processes emerge in addition to the existing ones:

  • Testing

New functionality is multiplying, interconnections between different parts of the system are multiplying too. At the stage of increasing complexity and scope of development, more and more time is spent on testing your product before release. To effectively solve such tasks, the team needs QA engineers, individual experts whose area of responsibility is minimizing errors and problems in the product operation.

  • Task Prioritization Management

Due to the same growing number of tasks and development plans, there is a more urgent need to prioritize the calendar of new releases. What functionality should be released faster? How to test the relevance of new functionality faster and cheaper? This question should be answered by product managers who regularly communicate with your customers, monitor competitors and ultimately prioritize development.

  • Technical infrastructure support

Development and release are only part of the product implementation. From the moment the first version is released, the team is tasked with supporting the technical infrastructure of your product - optimizing the work of servers, monitoring the load on the system. Such specialists are called DevOps engineers. It is impossible to build a product in the long term without them. In the early stages, your developers can cover DevOps engineering tasks, but as a rule, this requires separate competencies and experience.

In addition to the roles described above, your product may need many more specialists, for example customer support specialists, system analysts, etc. But most likely, at the stage when you realize that your product is in demand on the market and investors are ready to give you money for development, you should already have people in your team who are responsible for both the technical side of the product and for working with users. They will definitely deepen your understanding of who exactly the team needs, and will help you organize your work on many fronts.

How do you look for all these specialists and how do you figure out exactly if they are needed at this stage?

If when launching your technological product (startup) you don't know how to organize a team and what specialists you need for technical implementation - delegate. The easiest way to delegate is to hire an CTO or sign a development contract with a studio.

Without experience to cope effectively with the organization of development, the task is very difficult. Only the search, validation of specialists and the start of work can take from you a huge amount of time and resources that could be spent on other business tasks.

Previously, we published an article on Who should you hire for startup MVP development: a freelancer, an agency, or contractor? In it, we described the risks and advantages of working with each of these options. The article has not lost its relevance and perhaps it will help you in choosing the ideal option to launch your MVP.

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