What is minimum viable product (MVP)?

What is minimum viable product (MVP)?

Minimum viable product (MVP) is a useful term in tech product.

Minimum = smallest thing you can get away with

Viable = actually works

Product = provides some value

Let’s imagine that you’re starting a new company. You have some skeins of yarn that you  want to sell online. If you don’t sell them by the end of the month, you’ll be broke. You have no option. You need to sell them fast to make a profit, buy more skeins and then sell them on again to make even more returns.

What would be important to you to get started? Let’s list some requirement out:<&nbsp>

Very minimum needed to get started
A skein of yarn to sell
A domain name
An email address
A website to sell from
A product description
A website to sell from
The ability to take an online payment
<&nbsp>
Can come later
Loyalty Scheme
Video reviews
Analytics
CRM System
Van
3rd party fulfilment provider
Accessories page
Blog
Social media presence
API
Branded envelopes
IoS app
Android app
Customer review centre
Fav icon
3rd party advertising

As you can see the ‘very minimum’ list isn’t much at all. However, it’s a clever way to start, because it allows you to:

  • Get started
  • Get in a position to sell
  • Perhaps make a sale
  • Establish a presence
  • Beat your competitors to the market.

Still. It will be a bit rubbish, eh. So, you could then think about what the next feature release will be.

Very minimum needed to get started (MVP)
A skein of yarn to sell
A domain name
An email address
A website to sell from
A product description
A website to sell from
The ability to take an online payment
Feature release two (the basic feedback release)
Feedback button
Comments box
User account
Can come later
Loyalty Scheme
Video reviews
Analytics
CRM System
Van
3rd party fulfilment provider
Accessories page
Blog
Social media presence
API
Branded envelopes
IoS app
Android app
Customer review centre
Fav icon
3rd party advertising

Right, now we’re making progress. Feature release two is all about getting customer feedback. Brilliant!

Let’s imagine we did that. The feedback was that not having a captcha and two-factor validation was putting people off. Also, your web developer thinks not having metadata is making ranking a problem. We can add that in next. Feedback’s a gift!

Very minimum needed to get started (MVP)
A skein of yarn to sell
A domain name
An email address
A website to sell from
A product description
A website to sell from
The ability to take an online payment
Feature release two (the basic feedback release)
Feedback button
Comments box
User account
Feature release three (the authentication and security release)
Captcha
Two factor authentication
Metadata
Also added
Analytics
Blog
Social media presence
Can come later
Loyalty Scheme
Video reviews
CRM System
Van
3rd party fulfilment provider
Accessories page
API
Branded envelopes
IoS app
Android app
Customer review centre
Fav icon
3rd party advertising

The question an MVP answers is how can I validate my idea, a core tenet of tech product discovery. It could be an idea for a completely new product. It could be an idea for a new set of features for an existing product. At that point the idea’s just a hunch. It could be amazing, but it could also, easily flop. You could do some market research which may tell you some insights, but by the time you’ve done that the opportunity may have passed.

To quote Henry Ford “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”. (Though there’s a heated debate about whether he really did or not).

Steve Jobs said “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

MVPs help you test and validate an idea first, before you bankrupt yourself guessing how to invest.

The challenge then is to think about how much risk you can take. How much investment should you make to confirm the product idea is worthwhile. To put it another way what’s the smallest investment you can make to that gives you a tolerable risk profile.

‌Build too much product and the investment costs increase. The time to market feedback increases too. So the risk is high. Build too little product, while the investment remains low and time to market is short, there insufficient product to get feedback,

‌It’s about finding the right amount of product. Build as little as possible to constrain the risk exposure. Build Enough to determine if the product will achieve its proposed benefits. The product needs to fulfil basic capability. Being able to solve the customers problem at the basic level is fundamental. It also needs to have the sort of things that customers would normally ask for in this category of product. Things that directly lead to customer satisfaction.

‌Finally, it needs a sprinkling of delights, things that get the users will get excited about. Things that will give them a reason to switch to your product and tell their friends about it.

Oh and if you ever get push back remember what the pros say: Go ugly early. If the approach has worked for the Silicon Valley tech giants, it can work for you too.


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