Apps like Robinhood have been trying to get millennials excited about the world of stock trading, but to most kids, crypto is still the coolest. The idea of participating in the earliest phases of something revolutionary seems to resonate particularly well with the 25-35 age group.

Unless you have thousands of dollars at your disposal — it’s not easy to get started in the stock market. Shares are typically on the pricey side and the market isn’t growing that much these days.

On the other hand, crypto is skyrocketing in popularity, and it feels significantly more accessible to investors with smaller budgets. You can easily take out a massive position in a new coin with a few hundred dollars.

Crypto is also faster paced and a lot more volatile in terms of day to day price action. Almost every piece of news influences the price of a coin in one way or another. This makes it particularly interesting to younger investors that don’t have the longest attention spans.

A Brief History

Bitcoin is nearing its tenth birthday, but it’s still new to 99% of the world. The rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can get quite complicated, so here’s a quick recap.

The first application of blockchain technology was designed to decentralize financial transactions in by using a cryptocurrency. The idea for bitcoin was made public in a white paper by someone under the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto.

After the coin started to gain popularity due to its anonymity and small transaction fees, other coins with similar aspirations started to pop up. In 2011, Charlie Lee introduced Litecoin — an alternative to bitcoin that could be sent and received faster with even lower fees.

With more exchanges popping up and new investors starting to sink their teeth in, bitcoin surged to over $1000 a coin back in 2013 before crashing down to $300 in the subsequent weeks.

In 2016, Vitalik Buterin proposed the idea for Ethereum — customizable, code-based contracts that can be executed on the blockchain, powered by its own cryptocurrency.

BTC soared to over $20,000 this last December, along with thousands of other alt-coins that started to gain momentum from a drastically increased public interest in the blockchain.

Decentralized Funding is Running Rampant

ICOs raised over $6 billion in 2017. The crazy part? There were at least 400 of them. That’s more than one ICO per day for an entire year.

ICOs are a crowdfunding method where founders sell underlying tokens on their platform for a fixed price in ETH or BTC. Early adopters buy at a fixed, discounted price hoping that each token will go up in value once the technology is released.

The amount of money being raised via ICOs is increasing exponentially as more investors flock to the market.

Less than $1B was raised from January to June, but skip forward to the month of December and that number increases to $1.6B.

Crypto is still unregulated in most of the world’s major tech hubs. That’s both a good and a bad thing. While it’s never been easier to get funding for a startup idea, it’s also never been easier to pull one over on people and make off with a ton of money.

Existing Businesses Are Pivoting to Blockchain

Crypto is so hot that even iced tea manufacturers are starting to get involved.

ICOs have become the overnight pivot for businesses experiencing trouble in 2018. Everyone is hopping on the bandwagon, from Long Island Brand Beverages to Kodak imaging solutions.

While their underlying intention may be pointed in the right direction, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that this move comes out of a desire to shoot some much-needed life into their stocks.

Keep in mind the SEC is starting to crack down on companies that do this. You can’t just slap crypto on your business in hopes of making a quick buck off of tech’s latest buzzword.

A Dangerous Pattern Is Starting to Form

There’s been a recent influx of new investors due to hype about the rising price. Adding volume is great for the market — but these new investors are a prime target for manipulation. Without the right strategy, people are spreading themselves thin on risky altcoins.

It’s easy to promise a ton of value and get new investors excited about your ICO. There are no qualifications required to launch a coin — savvy marketers can convince consumers any technology will be valuable as long as it’s tied to the blockchain.

But that’s simply not true. There’s a ton of hype, a ton of excitement, a ton of capital, but there’s not that much real world value. The market cap is sitting just under $500B right now yet blockchain technology still doesn’t have any mainstream use cases.

There are simply way too many players in the game right now. People are betting big on promises — and promises don’t hold value for too long.

Bitcoin Is a Bubble, but It’s Not Going to Pop Anytime Soon

International headlines light up about how bitcoin is crashing and the bubble is popping every time the price fluctuates by more than ten percent.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are still finding their places in the world. It’s impossible to expect a perfectly smooth rollout of something that is still being actively developed.

Cryptocurrency definitely has the makings to become popped bubble at some point, but you can’t start to form a bubble until the market becomes oversaturated.

Right now only 0.5% of the world possesses bitcoin — we’re still in the earliest stages of adoption. Not to mention, if investors can get savvy about sniffing out companies that don’t provide any real value to the market, a bubble can be avoided.

Nobody wants to release something that isn’t perfect, so the idea of an MVP (minimum viable product) can be tough to comprehend.

Building a full-fledged digital product brings a ton of risk to the table — both in terms of resources and your pride. While it’s easy to get trapped in the perfection mindset, testing your value proposition using an MVP is one of the only ways to mitigate risk in the startup landscape.

According to Crunchbase Insights, the number one reason startups fail, accounting for 42% of cases, is because there’s simply no need for the product.

Eric Ries, New York Times bestseller and author of The Lean Startup, writes:

“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

Start Ridiculously Simple

Don’t confuse an MVP with an alpha version of your product. MVPs are designed to test your idea, and you should never build a multi-feature product without first validating the idea.

If you’re still thinking of ways to slim down your product idea, it’s not minimal enough.

Airbnb is a great example of how an MVP can (and should) be used to discover a massive demand in the market. When the $30 billion dollar company started, it wasn’t about revolutionizing the world of travel accommodations — it came out of the founders’ need to pay rent.

After moving to San Francisco to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams as product designers, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were struggling to keep up with their lease. They thought about filling up the extra space in their living room with a blowup mattress and charging people to stay with them.

Around the same time, they noticed the massive hotel booking crisis that would inevitably happen anytime a highly attended conference came to town. For event attendees, finding hotel rooms during the conference was both painful and expensive — perhaps just painful enough that the conference-goers would be willing to stay in a stranger’s home to cut costs and make the experience easier.

The first version of their product was a Craigslist posting. Not an app. Not a website. Literally a single post to validate an idea.

Take a Look Around

Competitor analysis can be extremely difficult when you’re emotionally invested in your product. As a founder, it’s easy to think your idea for a product is more unique than it actually is.

Unless you have a few hundred thousand dollars to waste, you can’t ignore your competitors just because you believe in your idea. Unfortunately, consumers don’t use products because just because the founders believe in it — they use products that they have a demand for.

If you’re solving a unique problem that a lot of people have, gaining credibility won’t be a problem. But if you’re going after a saturated industry (I.e. Uber of…), you’re going to have a hard time making a name for yourself and building something people would actually be willing to test out.

It’s relatively easy to get people to try something out if it solves a problem they didn’t previously have a solution for, but convincing users your product is more “effective” than what’s already out it is almost impossible.

If You Can’t Boil It Down to a Single Feature, It’s not an MVP

If you’re starting out with more than one feature, you’re building an alpha version of your product — not an MVP.

This is the key difference between a true MVP and early versions of your product. Each MVP should only test one feature. If you find a fit, you’re good to go. If you’re MVP doesn’t gain traction, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

You can’t conduct a meaningful test if you’re measuring multiple variables at the same time. If the problem you’re solving is important enough, it should catch like wildfire. Think of almost any product you use, from your smartphone to your toothbrush. They all started as a single feature.

Only build what’s strictly necessary and add features only when you notice a clear demand. The more complicated your product is, the less likely it is people are going to use it.

If you want to create a successful product, do one thing and do it really well.

Remember: Liking Your Product Is Different Than Actually Paying for It

Hearing that people like your product might be great for your ego, but it doesn’t actually mean anything for your business. At the end of the day, you’re trying to get people to become paying customers.

If your core idea is off, adding features isn’t going to fix anything. Creating an MVP allows you to test the value proposition of your idea without wasting a ton of time and resources building a complicated solution to a problem nobody cares about.

Test one feature at a time, and start with something that people are already willing to pay for. Monetization isn’t an afterthought.

Early Releases Are an Entrepreneurs Best Friend

It sounds simple, but few entrepreneurs realize it before going down the rabbit hole on the wrong project: what you want doesn’t really matter, whether or not a product is successful is based on what other peoples want.

Starting with one feature at a time and identifying which ones work is much faster than building a product with a ton of features only to find out nobody else needs your solution.

MVPs help you waste less time in the design phase by allowing you to iterate on what actual users want.

If you expunge all of your resources trying to build a complex app to fulfill all of your users’ needs, you won’t have anything left to iterate if people don’t resonate with your product.

Remember, creating a single feature that everyone uses will make you a lot more money than building 10 that nobody uses.