"$270,000 going ONCE!"
"SOLD to the man in the lumberjack costume!"
A large man bellowed out commands to the audience of hungry scavengers. A gigantic gold college class ring hugged his fist and acted as a judgement hammer. He roared commands using his fist to point and a slamming motion to announce the auction was over. He stood on a three foot stool which made him tower over the rabble.
Standing to his right was a flat screen TV that showcased the upcoming properties to be auctioned off. I noted the property name and ran my finger down the list of research questions I prepared.
- What's the potential damage on this house?
- What's the worst case scenario?
- What's the possible rental income? With and without a mortgage?
- What's the rehab cost? ARV?
My research list spanned over a dozen questions – many were calculations, the remaining judgement calls. But one thing was off...
This home wasn't in the property handout!
I grabbed my researched property list and ruffled through the pages. I couldn't find this property anywhere. Time was of the essence. The auction would begin any moment and investors would call out numbers. If I couldn't give an accurate bid in time I could lose this deal in an instant.
Long story short – I was overly cautious and lost the bid. The house ended up a good deal and the winner turned around a good profit quickly. I'm still sore about that but hey, I could've also avoided a total disaster.
After this incident I decided something had to be done. A cursory glance at my property evaluation sheet showed that much of what I was doing could be easily automated. A simple web application could harvest property details and spit out different scenarios based on predetermined settings.
What kind of features would an MVP need? I was building this project partially for myself and partially to be sold to the public. If I was the ideal customer, I could generate features quickly and throw it at potential clients before committing to building the project.
Strategizing features for an MVP
I threw down a mind map about the core problems the application needed to solve. These would be:
- Automate property calculations quickly
- Bulk property evaluations
- Save the properties in a list
- Re-evaluate and change information for deals in the future
Rather than coding the entire MVP and launching it, I decided to make a few mockups and swing it to potential customers to get a read on the direction I was going in. This would save me time and money in the long run with a lot of heartache avoided.
I can't tell you the amount of times I've approached a problem that didn't truly exist. This time around I wanted to confirm my hypothesis was correct and that people were willing to shell over their hard earned dollars.