How To Build An MVP

And what a modern Harvard Business Review would look like

On Saturday I shared a deep dive on the six tradeoffs founders have to make with members. Join the community to get access to my library of 40+ deep dives, and a new one in your inbox each Saturday.

Today at a glance:

  • Opportunity → Modern Harvard Business Review

  • Framework → How to Build a MVP

  • Tool → Wave

  • Trend → No-Code APIs

  • Quote → Discover, Don’t Hire

Also — we had a sponsor slot in Saturday’s deep dive open up at the last minute. Reply and LMK if you’re interested, or just book it here.

💡 Opportunity: Modern Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Publishing did $302M in revenue last year. If it were publicly traded it’d have a shot at being a billion dollar company.

The problem? Most of their material centers around big (often legacy) companies that don’t embrace modern tech. This means what you read about in HBR is already behind the cutting edge even before they write it.

Now imagine someone took the HBR playbook and applied it to new media channels (rather than a magazine), and modern businesses that embraced new tech like venture-backed startups. This is actually an idea I’ve been considering testing out as a perk for members of my founder community.

Case studies are just a great, repeatable format — and they aren’t even all that HBR does. But even if a business just focused on building out case studies about modern startups and ran it across multiple platforms they could create a large business.

🧠 Framework: How to Build a MVP

Most founders think that the best way to build a product with a big vision is piece by piece.

The problem is that no one wants to buy half a product. To build a car, don’t even start building a car until after you’ve built a bike.

I share this graphic and framework with almost all of my consulting clients because it shows a universal truth of startups — you won’t learn enough about what type of product people want unless users are able to use it at each stage.

🛠 Tool: Wave

Many of the best founders have coaches to help them grow at how to lead, manage competing priorities, and solve hard problems but learning from these elite coaches has historically been inaccessibly expensive.

With Wave any founder can now level up with insights from top coaches and build new goals and routines. Their team is already helping leaders from Amazon, Stripe, and Google. Houck’s Newsletter subscribers can try it out for 14 days completely free.*

📈 Trend: No-Code APIs

The cost of building software is going down. We’re going to continue to see this macro trend accelerate throughout this decade, and it seems likely that software will not be a defensible moat by the end of it.

A great example is no-code APIs.

Turns out you already no longer need to code to create APIs, and this is only getting easier with time and new tools.

For now, these tools lack the scalability that custom coded solutions can offer, but that’s likely to also improve over time. The rising interest implies that developers will increasingly adopt them as functionality improves and reliability + performance can match more traditional solutions.

I’d love to hear from some technical founders about whether you think no-code APIs are here to stay or just a passing fad.

💬 Quote: Discover, Don’t Hire

There’s been a bit of a debate on Twitter recently about whether to hire hungry, more affordable junior employees or fewer but more senior ones.

Count Netflix founder Marc Randolph in the former camp.

His point is that if you want people to do the best work of their careers at your startup, you have to be willing to take risks on people without a proven track record.

Not everyone agrees. Upgrade to see what Y Combinator’s admissions team said when I asked them about this.

🔗 Houck’s Picks

  • Stripe’s Patrick Collision on the importance of making good hires (Link)

  • Google’s Eric Schmidt on what great products have in common (Link)

  • A hot take on using memos instead of pitch decks (Link)

  • 10 insights from one of the founders of Y Combinator (Link)

Upgrade for additional picks this week:

  • A valuable leadership lesson from Howard Shultz

  • Why VCs will basically always have your back

  • Vercel’s founding COO’s 10 lessons as he steps down

  • Google always had the idea to turn search into an AI product

💡 How I Can Help

Here are 3 ways for me to help you close your fundraise, find PMF, or accelerate growth:

“*” indicates sponsored content.