Cornerstones of Minimum Viable Product
Minimum Viable Product is a minimum feature set that reveals business idea. Some of the most successful products have started with one simple feature, some have stayed like this till now. Many now-successful companies admit that they had to eliminate extra features during the early stages.
MVP does not necessarily refer to minimal product per se, it’s rather an iterative process of prototyping, delivering, feedback collection and learning.
There are several critical considerations when planning MVP development:
1. Original problem
Identifying the original problem, the new product or service aims to solve, is critical. Very often this problem definition will not be accurate for each and every customer, but it doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist. This means that the problem must be stripped down to the bare minimum, the essence, that will be recognized by 80% of the target audience. Solving this problem essence should be one single focus point of product development team.
2. The customers
Very often it is difficult to project ahead and determine who the potential users are, even more so, this understanding will evolve throughout future MVP iterations. For now, it is sufficient to have a broad understanding of target audience, industries and volume. After all, in the beginning only early users matter — the ones who quickly adopt the product, provide feedback, criticize and forgive.
3. The money
The conventional market testing strategy was to invest into a fully featured product, release it and often fail with it. Things are different now. The goal is to test the product idea as early as possible while minimizing investments, engineering hours and get more accurate scope based on feedback.
4. The team
At this stage the company is probably self-funded, bootstrapped or got FFF funding. Most likely this is not enough to go through unpredictable amounts of iterations of MVP with a superstar team that seems like a perfect choice in the beginning. Replacing team members at later stages is unforgivingly expensive in terms of money and accumulated intellectual assets. The best choice is to hire equity motivated bright people or contract a team that has a clear understanding of potential risks.
5. Learning curve
If done right — a lot of feedback is coming, direct and indirect. It’s important to identify what is indirect feedback in every specific case and capture it, otherwise, it will be lost and this loss will be reflected in the accuracy of conclusions. On the other hand, all this feedback may be meaningless if there is no virtual features portfolio that will allow to minimize the time between iterations and quickly come up with the improved scope.
MVP done correctly will result in desirable product/market fit and will lower the chances of incorrect interpretation or premature surrender on the idea, as well as minimize investments, efforts, time to market and waste. All this combined will significantly increase chances of becoming successful and getting additional investments at later stages.
This should briefly cover things that matter before taking on MVP development.
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