One of the major problems that startups face now is the classic chicken and egg problem. Developers need feedback on the product that they are developing as and when they do but they are no customers to give feedback. Customers don’t want to choose a platform unless they see the product. This was quite the case until Steve Blank coined the term “Minimum Viable Product”.
“Minimum feature set (MVP) is a Customer Development tactic to reduce engineering waste and to get the product in the hands of Earlyvangelists soonest.”Steve Blank
The term became famous once Eric Ries spoke about it in his book “The Lean Startup”.
“The minimum viable product is that product which has just those features and no more that allows you to ship a product that early adopters see and, at least some of whom resonate with, pay you money for, and start to give you feedback on.”
Basically, the Minimum Viable Product is the bone structure. It is the foundation of the product. Once the developers understand that this solves the proposed problem, they start building on top of it. This is a better approach to startups because they don’t spend all their resources on a product before it goes live. It also allows them to tweak the features on an iterative basis.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is all about delivering value to the users. This primary aspect of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) focuses on what the product does. In general, 60% of the features of a product are not used by all the customers. These features are most often viewed as mere add-ons. With Minimum Viable Product (MVP), the one core feature, which is the backbone of the product is tested to see if it meets the user demands.
Let us look into an example. Let’s say the problem that your users want to solve is to find a good house in India.
- Minimum: A house with a “for sale” sign in front of it.
- Viable: A website that lists the specs of all the houses available for sale, listed district wise.
- Minimum + viable: A list of offers manually collected from the owners.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) should look something like this:
Why do you need an Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
An Minimum Viable Product (MVP) helps you understand how your users perceive your product. Positive results indicate that the product is accepted and developers can continue enhancing it.
This helps you:
- Save resources and time.
- Check if the potential users find the product useful.
- Find out the key features that will add value to the product
- Enables user testing.
- Saves a lot of money and attracts investors.
How to build an Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
Identify and evaluate
You need to first find the challenge. This is primary to any product that you develop. The next step is to define the audience. You need to spend considerable time doing your market research. What are the problems that the users are facing? Are there products that solves their issues? What is that product falling back on? Do you have a solution for that?
Let us see how Uber identified their challenges: After interviewing they found that:
- Yellow cabs were costly and not available easily.
- People had to wait for a long time to catch a cab.
- Users preferred staying indoors until the cab arrived.
Using these results, Uber built an app. The app now speaks for itself.
Once you decide on the challenge, you need to look out for what your competitors are doing. Use services that give you insights on the competitor’s rank, website traffic, etc.
You can learn a lot from their strength and failures. Another way to look at this is that it gives you an opportunity to bridge the shortcomings of their product.
List the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) features
Sketch a user path. These are the steps that your user will take while using your product.
Next, choose the top features that should be available for Minimum Viable Product (MVP). These are the features that allows your users to understand and accomplish the main idea of your app. Now set, high priority features and make them available.
Testing the product is as important as everything else. It helps you understand if your product solves the problems that you intended it to. It helps you identify the shortcomings and performance issues. This gives you early insight into how your users would perceive your product. Every stage of testing is essential even for a small feature. You can use websites like ProductHunt to find the initial set of beta users who will be willing to try your product.
What is not an Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
The product that is not Minimum
Most often product managers find the idea of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to be too encouraging and encourage developers to add more features to it. The result is an almost complete product. This kills the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). When the product is almost done, it is difficult to change the core functionalities. If the result of your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is low, then you might have to change the core functionalities. This is what you aimed to achieve using Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as well. But when the product is complete, you cannot do this. As a result, you will end up only tweaking the changes.
You will try to fill in the gaps by adding more features that complement the existing ones. This is going to cost you a lot of time and resources.
The Product that is not Evolutionary
Minimum Viable Product is an iterative process. This means you keep adding value to the bucket with every release. The idea is to build upon a foundation that is laid using Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
The product that does not focus on the hypothesis
Most often, people forget why they are building a minimum viable product. The essence of building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is to ensure that our assumptions are not. What happens most of the time is that, instead of using Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to validate the hypothesis that you have, you assume that it is correct. Instead of using Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to validate the concept, it is used to test a particular feature set.
Minimum Viable Product allows developing companies to reduce costs and maximize funds. It allows entrepreneurs to learn quickly from their mistakes without paying a large tuition fee. The approach when done correctly gives an early insight on how the users will perceive the product and what value-added features that the company can take up to make it a success. It also helps them identify the strong set of features which they can later user in their sales and marketing efforts. That said, Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is upfront work. Although it might seem simple, the product managers need to invest time to understand how they can incorporate this technique and get the maximum out of it.
Need help with developing Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? At Crayon’d we have built a lot of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) projects focusing on websites, apps, etc.
Have more questions on Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
Reach out to us. We are open to always having a constructive conversation. Head over to Crayon’d. We will take off your idea from there.