How to Leverage Your MVP

September 29, 2016

No, not “most valuable player.” We’re referring to Minimum Viable Product.

The definition of a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, is a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. The term was coined by Frank Robinson and popularized by Eric Ries and Steve Blank.

A Minimum Viable Product has a fixed amount of core features that is just enough to deploy the product. This strategy aims to maximize information about the consumer cost effectively and avoids creating undesired products. To clarify, the process of creating an MVP isn’t about making minimal products; it’s about developing a product simple enough to deliver value to the consumer.

A great example of a Minimum Viable Product is TheFacebook, better known as Facebook. Back in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates launched thefacebook.com in hopes of creating a successful social network. They built the original version in a couple of weeks and even though it was basic, it had enough features to get people excited. Over the years, they kept adding bigger and better features while making sure their users needs and wants were met. Facebook is now valued at $245 billion and could possibly be worth $1 trillion in the near future. Who wouldn’t want that?

Research

Before you think about becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, you need to make sure people want your MVP. 42% of startups fail because there is no market need for their product. Take a step back to examine the current market you’re in. What products will you be competing against? How will you make your product better? What’s your value proposition?

Focus your MVP on your customer, and listen to their reactions. You can develop any new product, but it takes patience and determination to build one users will actually love. With that said, don’t be afraid to talk about your MVP! There’s tremendous value in feedback, so discuss your idea with your target audience. Take all of their comments into consideration and make the appropriate changes or additions.

Define

You have your idea, now what? You need to define your MVP. Which features are must-haves and which features are nice to have? It’s crucial to stay impartial during this process. Your favorite feature might not be the most important element to add at this point in development.

Must-have: Basic Security

Nice-to-have: Points Based Rewards System

After you narrow things down, establish your feature set. Document your product’s features and their functions in detail. This will serve as the overview of your MVP. Once your feature set is complete, list all your features in terms of priority. Which is the most important and which one creates the most value in short term? If you define your MVP before anything else, your product will already be off to a great start.

Build Measure Learn Cycle

The Build Measure Learn Cycle is a simple feedback sequence that is part of the Lean Startup Method. This strategy aims to turn doubts and risks into valuable facts that will assist businesses with their progress. The concept is basic — you turn your ideas into physical products, measure your customers’ reactions and behaviors against those products, and then decide whether to keep or pivot the idea. By going through this continuous process, your uncertainties can actually be converted into helpful information that you can utilize in product development. The key to a successful MVP is the Build Measure Learn Cycle. You need to repeat, learn, and know whether to iterate or restart until you have a product that people love.

Build: Develop a product and push it into the real world.

Measure: Analyze your customers’ reactions along with your data.

Learn: Take your past experiences and use what you’ve learned to build something better.

212-913-9626