Product designer for 10 years. Chief Product Officer for 4. Validated many MVPs and product concepts pre and post funding raise, with current customers and without.
In almost all cases, you can validate the product idea through non-technical means. The notion that you must raise before you can build anything is a classic "never done this before" misconception. And it will signal to an investor that you don't know what you're doing. Sorry if that sounds harsh – but its a true read on the situation and the times we live in.
Investors simply expect you to have an MVP, users / customers, and traction metrics before they give you a cent. The investment will be to amplify something that, to some degree, already works – not to fund a greenfield, exploratory build.
Back to non-technical: Its possible to scrap together an MVP for most products using existing products. Especially the marketing and acquisition funnel stuff (more important than most people think).
The actual app is more difficult, but can be done. Either through shaving off features to a very small subset. Or by "wizard of oz" approach. Where the front end of the software exists (made from a wordpress template, webflow, etc) and the backend is manually curated by the founder – meaning a human plays the role of the software.
Really slow. Kind of lame UX. But you can acquire customers and test your idea this way. I know because I'm personally using / paying for a service like this right now.
Happy to look at your exact case and develop a plan.
Great question. I wrote the book Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want to help entrepreneurs get from idea to MVP to Product-Market Fit. I also built a few B2B startups (Flagback, HireVoice, etc).
There are a few things that make this a challenge:
1) MVPs are typically much further along the process in B2B than in B2C. In B2C, entrepreneurs find a market, identify the problems and build a MVP. In B2B, entrepreneurs find a market, find the stakeholders, identify the problems, validate a solution then build a MVP. Customers are less accessible; it takes time to get on their agenda.
2) Investors typically don't want to fund early sales and MVP development in B2B. It's "too risky"; they'd rather come in when the company has a wee-bit of traction.
3) The whole process from inception to early traction and MVP can easily take more than a year. You need sufficient runway to survive.
Although I agree with Jeff, Shaun and Suresh that you can build early MVPs on the cheap, it's important to remember that your initial objective is to convince 5-6 businesses to commit to purchase your solution when it's ready.
To that end, a vision and early mockups can be enough.
If you need money to get to MVP, I suggest finding angel investors, but don't expect your MVP to be the actual product. Everything will change.
Feel free to reach out if you'd like to talk about this.
The idea of an MVP is 'minimum, viable' ... If you feel you need a "good amount" of funding, I would challenge if you are minimum enough.
Obviously, without knowing the details of your product, your ideal customer, or what need you will solve, it is hard to help expose what is necessary in an MVP and what is a Phase II or Phase III feature.
I am happy to help you work through this, or answer specific questions, to get you rolling. Just book a call with some times that will work for you.
Regardless, I would love to know more about it and how it goes after launch.
To your success,
There are lots of resources today where you can cost effectively build a MVP for a b2b platform without needing to raise lot of funding. In most cases ( as long as you have a great network of investors) you will probably need to have already developed an MVP, validated the product/service offering before you approach. Depending on the kind of B2B platform, you might be able to leverage existing frameworks to help build an MVP.
I have had lots of experience in B2B & B2C platforms and would be happy to share thoughts/feedback.