I don’t know who first said that if you aren’t embarrassed about your v1 product, you waited too long to ship. At Mightyverse, we repeated that to ourselves as we struggled to release the first version of our iPhone app. After 2 weeks, we hit 128 downloads and I enjoyed reading my co-founder, Paul Lundahl’s reflection on the process. Despite our misgivings, we continue to explore the painful edge of what may not yet be a minimally viable product.

Why do I persist in this belief that we are pursuing the right methodology when the release of this marginally useful app means that many early users may be frustrated and never come back?

  • A mobile startup without a mobile app hasn’t reached the starting gate. At least now, we have a demo that anyone can see. No matter how many times I tell people that Mightyverse allows you to access native language video recordings, when I show the app half the people say “oh, so you are using video!” When you are introducing a new concept, people only hear half of what you say. Even when we speak the same native language, communication is hard.
  • We are learning a lot from the app and the process. Now we know that we can get through the Apple App Store process. We understand the limitations of the iPhone video APIs. With a version of the iPhone app released we can consider whether another platform will allow us to create a better user experience, while still leveraging our early iPhone work to maintaining a presence on that platform.
  • This open approach allows us to move more quickly toward our goals than traditional methodologies. Even if we are a bit embarrassed, we are also very excited. We are learning how to work together effectively to balance content and software development. We know that our 23,721 video recordings represent just a droplet of language and our software does not yet provide features which support any use case particularly well. Working in collaboration with language enthusiasts and other early adopters we have developed a process of continuous course corrections.
  • Having an audience leads us to make hard decisions quickly and perform crisply. Since the audience is small, we are comfortable experimenting and allowing forward motion with a post-hoc review process. Moving quickly unleashes creativity. The process is inexplicably fun.
  • Lastly, I expect that the people who will discover Mightyverse in the future will vastly outnumber the people who will use it now, so I am ok risking their displeasure. In fact, if we actually manage to stumble upon some people who hate it, perhaps that is an opportunity.
  • So, if you have an iPhone, download the app, join our experiment, and let us know what you think. After all, where else can you learn to say “I’m sorry. I speak the Japanese of a pre-schooler” ?

What do you think?