Part of the trick when working with a software outsourcing agency is making sure that they are a DELIVERY PARTNER, not a TECHNOLOGY PARTNER.
(I talk about this a lot, but essentially why would you need a TECHNOLOGY PARTNER when you are a TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS. You probably would not clone and marry yourself…)
This means staying in CONTROL of the project, whilst they MANAGE the project, and one way you can do this is with a project board. Typically a project board for a small business would have the commissioner (you and your team), a representative of the end user (your customer), and from the supplier the account manager/project manager and the lead technician doing the work.
However, if you are a start-up technology business that’s outsourced your MVP, you are too small to either a) have enough of your own people on the board to actually steer it, and b) your tame customer that you’re planning a pilot for is either 1) not that invested, or 2) not someone you want to have watching the sausage meat go into the sausage machine if you get my meaning.
One way to fix this is to find a friend who comes in as a proxy for the tame customer; so they role play as the customer, but you work with them to get actual proper advice. You’ll need to remunerate them somehow – one option is just to arrange to pay them back with interest when you start to bring in some cash.