The main purpose of your ‘Minimum Viable Product’ is to quickly see the essence of your idea in action and test your key hypothesis to minimize errors with the minimum amount of effort and resources. Some of the main benefits resulting from building an ‘MVP’ for your idea are:
Minimum Viable Product: Cheaply test an assumption in a larger plan
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a strategy for avoiding the development of products that customers do not want. The idea is to rapidly build a minimum set of features that is enough to deploy the product and test key assumptions about customers’ interactions with the product.
1. Start with potential users
Imagine you have an idea for a new web app that will replace Facebook. (There are a lot of those).
Perhaps you decide that you want to create Facebook for Doctors. Call it Docbook.
You say, wow I bet there are millions of doctors working and they all need just to share their knowledge and assumptions. They need educational pictures and videos and a place to share their frustrations with their patients.
You say to yourself, that’s such a good idea you need to build it right away before someone steals your idea. It’s a really good idea. You have to move fast.
So, if you’re a developer you build it as fast as you can in a weekend (that turns into a month), and if you’re not you either spend months finding a developer partner to found Docbook or you hire out a developer to build your minimum Docbook concept. Either way you’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on legal fees to incorporate in Delaware or something or you’ve spent thousands of dollars on developer fees.
Now, it’s probably months later and you have Docbook ready to go. You put up a landing page and…
Nobody signs up.
This goes on for a while and you decide you need more features because nobody is signing up. Also you play with pricing and you decide to read a bunch of blog posts about pricing and strategy and startup culture.
Your billion dollar social network business is about to take off like a rocket…
More time goes by and you barely notice because you’re working on the next batch of super useful features that you are sure that prospective customers are demanding before they will ever hand over money.
Eventually, you notice that you are working really hard and investing a lot of time and money and you aren’t getting any customers.
This is when you decide you need to use growth hacking to make Docbook work. So you join all the marketing communities and you start reading and learning about growth hacking and social media.
You tweet, you instagram, you facebook, you blog, you do ALL THE THINGS and you start getting followers and likes and “buzz”.
But you still have no sales.
You know what to do. You need to go bigger. You need to “blow up” on social media so you hustle real hard and you get on Hacker News and maybe even TechCrunch.
Traffic spikes. People show up. You have free trial accounts!!!
A month later nobody is using Docbook.
There is one thing Docbook forgot to do that would have changed everything. Did you ask the doctors about it.
Idea validation is establishing if there’s a market for your idea, whereas an MVP allows you to test your implementation of the product as quickly and cheaply as possible.
2. Value proposition
Express your idea in terms of the value you are creating for your target user:
What unique value does your product offer (functional/emotional/social)?
How does your product benefit users more than the current status quo?
Why should anyone want your product more than they want their money?
3. Project features
Before starting to build your ‘MVP’, reflect on all the features you would like to incorporate into your product and ask yourself ‘What do users want? How can this be something beneficial?’ to prioritize these features as either high, medium or low priority. Once you have organized your list of features, you should define their scope for the first version of the product and sequentially define how features will evolve and be added as your idea evolves.
Building on the previous 4 steps, you are now ready to develop your ‘MVP’! It is important to remember that your ‘MVP’ should not deliver lower quality than your final product. This should still fully address your target users’ needs and wants, only in a simpler way, making use of minimum efforts and resources.
There are two distinct parts to the concept of an MVP:
Figuring out what users want. Using the least number of engineering days to get there
In other words, validating your idea by figuring out if anyone wants it, and building the most basic set of features (in the least number of days) to turn your idea into a working product.
5. Build, measure and learn
After launching your ‘MVP’ it is crucial to collect user intelligence and feedback, especially with regard to where your idea is underperforming and where it is offering something that is not valued. This is what will help you understand if your idea fits the market, how it is performing against current competition, and what untapped opportunities you could still explore.
There four different types of MVP:
Concierge MVP - Concierge MVPs involve manually helping your users accomplish their goals as a means of validating whether or not they have a need for what you're offering. Building a product is not even necessary.
Wizard of Oz MVP - This MVP is one that gives a certain impression of your solution from the outside, but the inner workings of the solution are actually something else.
Landing Page MVP - A landing page is a single page that: Describes your product or service; Illustrates some advantages of using your product or service (your "unique value proposition"); Contains a button that lets interested visitors click to read more, join a mailing list, buy now or some other action
Email MVP - Creating an email takes much less effort than building a product or even a feature within a product. If you have existing customers, then you can begin by manually creating some emails to see if the response to the email is favorable. If it is, then you can proceed to building the related product features.
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development.
Gathering insights from an MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increases costs and risk if the product fails, for example, due to incorrect assumptions.