“Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about a customer with the least effort,” as stated by the famous author of the Lean Startup methodology, Eric Reis, an American entrepreneur, author, and blogger.
An MVP is basically the smallest unit and the most infant version of an actual product. It simply has the core features and functionalities necessary to prove that the product or service will sell.
From the name itself, “Minimum”, meaning features and functions are only kept to the minimum, keeping only those totally necessary for the foundation of the product. “Viable” means that the product has to at least have some promise at working and selling successfully. It has to be possible and feasible. And lastly, “Product”, unlike prototypes, MVP’s are a real product that people are going to be using and paying for, so they need to have a clear goal and set of features to promote the core of the product.
MVP was the brainchild of Nick Swinmurn, the creator of Zappos, a large and international online shoe store. Amazon then acquired it for a whopping $1.2 billion. Back in 1990, a young Nick failed to find a particle set of shoes that he was eyeing, frustrated but clever, he came up with an idea to sell shoes on the internet. He went against expectations and built a website. He took pictures of shoes from shoe stores, put it on his site, and shipping the shoes from the store to the buyer.
He didn’t want to do any extensive or expensive market research. He had wanted to both save money and time and most likely decided that there was nothing to lose if his plan failed. He didn’t know at the time, but the was the start of MVP.
Seeing this success, Minimum Viable Products then went on to be used by many different startups and entrepreneurs looking to make it big. Some did, and they became HUGE. Facebook and Twitter are the most well-known examples, and even DropBox and Aardvark came from MVP’s.
These startups had the same minds and have used quite the same methods to achieve their success stories. We’ll get to those methods later, but first, it is essential to know your possibilities and why you need MVPs.
While Facebook, Twitter, and others have achieved great success, remember that there had also been countless startup projects that had failed to generate any money, interest, nor users. We’re left forgotten in the fog of history. It is important to set an inspiration, a clear goal like Facebook, but any entrepreneur should not forget the mistakes and failures behind it.
Why Do I Need It?
MVP’s are a great way to develop your service around its core. Only releasing the core features and improving on them is a great way to optimize and find improvement on the goal that your product is aiming for.
Aside from that, here are great examples of why you need to use MVPs for your startups:
- Feedback. Developing your MVP while it’s still in its core stages allow you to gain feedback from users about things that you can do to improve upon your product. Now, you have an outline already of the things that you want to add to your product, but sometimes, what you want, isn’t what your customers need.
- Feasibility. In conjunction with getting feedback, finding out if you’ll get users or patrons is a good thing for any entrepreneur. It is a bad business practice to work upon your product, then just releasing it out in full, without actually knowing if it will sell.
- Audience. Building a core-focused MVP brings you an audience that wants those features. Sometimes, on other products and services, a user might think it is what they want, but upon further use and inspection, the product is different from what they want. As a side note, gaining an audience using your MVP will also rake in:
- Investors. Sponsors and investors do not just blindly send money to entrepreneurs. They have to know and have proof that this entrepreneur’s business is doing well now, and will continue to do so in the future. Investors look for startup companies that work with and have the previously mentioned bullets.
- Cost-wise. An MVP is generally more cost-wise and cheaper than any extensive market research. Yes, you will need market research to create the MVP, but after it, your MVP will serve as the feedback and data for your research. It is important to note that MVP’s will save you both money and time from developing your app as you won’t need to pool all of your resources into it right away.
- Efficient. Being able to work on your core functions first means that you don’t have to spend time making your product look good or adding unnecessary features. As an MVP, what you need is a practical, easy, and functional product. This will save you the time and effort to decorate and optimize your product because, remember, this is only the smallest unit of your product. While it will be used and sold, it still a far cry from what you are trying to achieve.
I am sure that there are also other, more minor benefits, but these are the benefits that you needed to know before you start planning your MVP. But remember, no matter how good an MVP is, it is only as good as the man who manages and works on it. An MVP equally serves as your marketing tool to gather users and find out their feedback on your product and, at the same time, a proof of concept that your idea is both functional and in demand.
How Do I Make It?
Now that you know what an MVP is, and why you should use it, now is the time to learn how you can make one for yourself. Being able to make a good and convincing goal is just one part of the MVP development process. If you want to make it right and make it big, these following steps and guides will help you walk your baby steps towards success.
Know if your product can fit into your market’s needs and wants. Before you start with anything, you must know whether your target market will avail of your product. Ask questions, create surveys, consult with experts and professionals, the more data that you have, and the more precise that data is, the greater the possibility of a successful startup.
Always keep an eye out for other companies and startups that offer the same services as you. They are your competitors, and you must make sure that your product is not only unique but also just as useful.
According to research and survey by CB Insights last 2019, the topmost reason why most startups fail is that there are no market needs for the products that they offer. These amount to a staggering 42% of business and highlights the important need to do your research beforehand.
Start to know what the market wants, imagine you are a startup company wanting to sell food in your area, you would want to know of course if the demand skew towards any one product, then create your MVP based on that data.
Show its Value.
It doesn’t matter how much the market is in demand for something; if it doesn’t offer great values or benefits to the user, they won’t use it. Let’s say you know for sure that there is a huge market demand for Hamburgers in your area, and you decide to sell some crude homemade hamburger. You could market your product all you want, but no one will come and buy it. There are other places to buy better hamburgers anyway.
Express the value of your product and show how your users can benefit from availing it and why they should. Maybe try making something unique, something different, but still in line with the current market trend. Maybe sell a few healthy or vegetarians burgers and express how your customers can still eat the burger that they want, but at a healthier nutritional value than currently existing burgers.
Design and Convenience.
Just because you’re aiming for a practical and functional MVP, doesn’t you should neglect how users interact with your product. You have to make sure that it is both convenient and practical for the user. Remember that your market will always prefer what’s more convenient. You need to start looking at your product from your market’s eyes. Would you buy your own product as with how it looks now?
Design your app, website, service, or product, to be convenient for your users. You have to keep your user’s satisfaction in mind and make sure that they remain satisfied throughout their use of your product. After the development of your MVP, it is the customer’s satisfaction that will show you if it is a success or not.
Know what you should put.
As we’re nearing the part where you build your MVP, make sure you know the different features that you are going to incorporate into your app. Make sure to stray true to the fact that you should only use the core features of your app.
List down the features that you want to add on your MVP and cross-check them as you develop your MVP. From your research, prioritize what your users want, and categorize your ideas into levels. This will allow you to optimize the way that you build your MVP, and to also make sure that it stays true to the market’s needs.
Build your MVP based on the features that you had set upon yourself. Your users will want to have something that they can use, engage, and interact with. Remember that even if this is the lowest unit to achieve your long term goal, it is still a clear indication of both your skill and passion. Be sure to have the professionals look into your MVP before launching it. Product developers and Quality Assurance Engineers are just some of such professionals that can help you.
Now that you have your MVP, with your marketing and business endorsements, you should be able to get a steady stream of both users and feedback. It should be a constant and continued development based on the data you gathered through the feedback you gather. And if not, try to research and check the trends, revise and retest it, on and on until you finalize your MVP!
Your MVP’s the stepping stone, the starting point to your startup. It is not your final product, but it is still your product, nonetheless. After creating your MVP, you can start looking into different ways to know that your MVP has been successfully accepted and used by users. These can be done through word of mouth, active users count, paying users counts, quality reviews and appraisals, sign-ups, and more.
Your first feedback won’t be great. Of course, there will be those satisfied users, but there will be those unsatisfied users looking for something that isn’t in your product yet. But do not lose heart; each of that unsatisfied feedback is still feedback nonetheless. You should listen to that feedback and construct better and better versions and updates of your MVP until you finalize its development.
Remember that MVP is a way to create a viable product, with minimal resources spent. Your first MVP doesn’t need to be perfect. Nor does your second or third or fourth. What’s important is that you build upon the feedback of your users and improve your product from there.
Create strategies that will allow your MVP to gain better feedback, plan your business model, and hypotheses. With the steps that we have provided and a little bit of effort and passion for going along into the risk, you can now build a successful and functional MVP, just for your own startup!