8 rules to ship your Rails SaaS MVP

Many books and articles have been written about MVPs. MVP means Minimum Viable Product and was coined by Erik Ries and helps you to ship in order to get feedback quickly. From many years experience these are our rules we live by to ship our Rails SaaS MVPs to get customers in the door as quickly as possible.

Stick to the absolute core

The most important rule that encompasses all other rules. To get to ship any MVP you have to absolutely strip your product to its core. That one or two features that your customers are actually willing to pay you money for. If you would remove these features, your product would not be useful to any of them.

For most first-time founders this is toughest rule. Often they are afraid their product won’t be good enough or not valuable enough. But it’s something we push for; finding that one core feature that makes your product, yours. We will help you strip all the cruft.

Skip all common, but secondary features

This is an extenstion on the previous rule, but worth going over for initially unneeded features. There are many features that you find in most SaaS products, but if you want to ship you need to agressively leave them out initially. These are often features you can do yourself manually at first as well. This is not “scaleable” as they say, but that’s not important without customers. And getting customers is the primary goal.

Examples of features like these could be: password reset, updating user profiles, inviting team members. Be really firm on this: only if you get many requests for some secondary feature, you add it. Until then you do it manually.

Use the tech you know

We don’t care about learning something new. That’s not why we build the MVP. We want to ship to build a business. For us that means using Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL, Hotwire and TailwindCss. It’s the one-man framework. Used by many thousands of companies in the world. There’s a tonne of learning resources out there and freely available gems to help build features. Hiring skilled developers is easy as well. We have been building with Ruby on Rails for 10+ years. It’s solid.

Simplify your server architecture

There are many PaaS solutions for Rails applications. We prefer Heroku. It takes care of all the server work for you (more than you might expect!). We also pride our apps in being able to be really cheap to run for the first few months. Usually the cheapest plan at $7/month is enough to get your first customers.

Utilize nocode tools

Nocode tools help you do recurring tasks. Where possible we opt to use any nocode tool possible. It helps save time, thus we ship faster. Just because you can build it, does not mean you should build it.

Be prepared for the future

Many features are easy to add later, but some might be a bit more tricky. After many years of experience we know what’s easy to add later or what foundation work is needed to make it easier later on. A classic example: is the teams feature where you can invite team members. If the architecture is not in place, this might just be harder to add later. This does not mean the feature is ready but hidden, but the data model is ready to handle complex team features.

Keep the UI minimal

Having a UI that takes breaths away is what every UI designer dreams off. We care about stunning UIs too, but know that using a minimal UI is key to ship faster. Without customers a dark theme is simply a waste of time.

Keep billing subscriptions simple

You can build multiple billing plans, but having just one monthly plan that gives access to all your features gets you to market quicker. That’s what we want. We know Stripe and love the tools they build. That’s what we use. Simple to add and easy to extend later, if needed.

And that’s it. These are the 8 rules we adhere to when building our MVPs. Get in touch if you want to buy a SaaS MVP.