The Different Types of MVP!

Now there’s a lot of confusion regarding Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Some say that it’s the smallest product with the least number of features. Some say it’s the product which we can build in the least amount of time.

However, Eric Ries, author of Lean Startup, who popularized the term, defines it in the following manner:

A Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

As a company your goal is always to be as customer focused (or obsessed as in the case of Amazon) as possible. This means that you’re always learning more about your users. For this, your MVP can acts as a very potent tool to validate/invalidate your hypothesis, resulting in maximum learning.

Further, there are also different types of MVP. However, the 2 most popular types of MVP are defined as follows:

  1. Concierge MVP: A concierge MVP is basically a human providing a manual service. This is best explained by the Airbnb example. 
    Airbnb founders, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were struggling to pay rent. So they simply, shot pictures of their loft, put them on a simple website and soon found three paying guests. They offered bed and breakfast, and that’s where the Airbnb title came from.
  2. Wizard of Oz MVP: Wizard of Oz MVP is kinda like magic. You know things are working out fine, but the inner details are kinda hidden. In this MVP, the users feel like the actions they are taking via app/website is automated, but it’s not. Basically, it’s a human behind the screen, pulling all the strings. 
    A good example of this is Aadvark, the Q&A service. In the early days, Aadvark staff would just manually post the questions to whomever was online to see who would respond and then would manually post that answer back to the asker. There was no algorithm. However from the outside it felt as if the computer was doing the whole thing. Also Amazon, tested this type of MVP initially where, initial tests involved 
    a human “wizard” sitting in a separate room and responding in real-time to voice queries, without telling the tester in advance.

The primary difference between the two types of MVP is that, for Concierge MVP, the user knows that it’s a manual service. However for Wizard of Oz MVP, the user doesn’t know the “behind-the-scenes” manual service.

The goal, thus, is to achieve maximum accelerated learning, resulting in validating/invalidating our assumptions about our products and users. And testing it all out using the various types of MVPs surely helps to expedite the whole process.