How GoodApril Used Balsamiq to Save Hundreds of Hours in Building its MVP

Mitch FoxOur newest Champion is Mitch Fox. He is the co-founder of GoodApril, a tax planning software startup. Mitch emailed us after being inspired by reading about Balsamiq Champions to share his story of using Balsamiq Mockups to help focus and refine his company's Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

He told his story on his blog in a post called "How GoodApril Used Balsamiq to Save Hundreds of Hours in Building its MVP".

A challenge facing most startups is that they have a grand idea for something, but don't have the resources to deliver the whole thing right away. This is why the MVP concept has become so popular. On his blog, Mitch articulates the dilemma this way:

Building our full vision will take a bigger team, and time, however – we obviously couldn’t build it all at once. We had to start smaller.

So how to pick the right FIRST product?

The rest of his article describes how he used Balsamiq Mockups to help answer this question.

First, his team generated wireframes for their product proposal using Balsamiq Mockups. Then came the real benefit.

Before we invested hundreds of hours of development time building it, however, we went out to some of our target customers, to company advisors, and to a couple potential investors, to get feedback.

This feedback helped GoodApril hone in on their best and most promising features and determine that critical first product to work on for their MVP. Armed with that insight, they felt much more confident moving on to the next steps.

Knowing we were on the right path, we then sunk our teeth in on design, product planning, and development.

The result was a narrowly-focused product that still solved a real problem and addressed an unmet market need. Using Balsamiq Mockups, they were able to make informed choices about what the initial release should and, equally important, shouldn't do. Mitch concludes his article this way:

It doesn’t update itself automatically, it’s not exhaustive in its evaluation of possible tax savings, but we’re confident it’s going to save taxpayers $100s or $1,000s in taxes this year. And that’s a pretty great start.

Mockups to CodeGoodApril: from Mockups to code

Q&A with Mitch Fox

What interesting trends do you see in your role or industry?

The tax code is getting more and more complicated as Congress tries to increase revenue without upsetting constituents, resulting in a crazy spaghetti of tax rules. At the same time, consumers are increasingly turning to software-based solutions to their personal financial questions, including things like financial planning. TurboTax is now the single largest tax return preparer in the U.S. and software preparation's growth is dramatically outpacing that of professional and chain preparers.

What suggestions do you have for someone looking to succeed in your role or industry?

Personal finance is confusing. You can deliver great customer benefit through easy user experiences that deliver confidence.

Do you use Mockups with a team?

My mockups stand-in for detailed specs for our team. They're used both by our designer and by my Co-Founder as he builds out the technology.

How has Mockups helped you look differently at things not related to your work life or work?

The success I've had using Mockups to communicate ideas has simply reinforced how visual most people are. I refuse to start a meeting anymore without a blank whiteboard, for instance, because I want people to be free to write and draw to help communicate.

Thanks, Mitch, for sharing your story with the community!

Do you have a story to share about the awesome things you do with Balsamiq? Send an email to champions@balsamiq.com with your stories or blog posts!

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