Does your customer need your MVP?

Eric Ries coined the term “Minimal Viable Product” from his Lean Theory. Most companies aim to start lean- which in a nutshell means, releasing a beta version of the product built on minimal resources to test how it fares with the target audience.

So, What is MVP?

“The minimum amount of effort you have to do to complete exactly one turn of the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop.” - Eric Ries

This does not mean that MVP is a functional product. It is rather an experiment that you need to conduct to see if your product is convincing enough to get your target customers sign up for the beta version. It is a part of the A/B testing phase. A lot of iteration goes into before you know what you have to build. Your idea will keep changing according to the market’s need. And honestly, your customers’ needs change in a bat of an eyelid! So, unless you know what they are expecting, it is completely abstract to go on!

There are many companies who started traditionally- like Dell and Microsoft. They did not go the lean way but have made it huge in the market. It actually depends upon the product or service you aim to sell.

In a discussion on Quora on What is MVP the most up-voted answer was:

Initial days of MVP

An MVP has its roots in a daily problem that you have identified and few predictions that you have made for your product in the near future. You outline assumptions and thus, starts the journey of creating your product.

MVP is the not the only way to know Customer feedback

Thats right! It is not essential to have a product ready at hand to test. There are more than one examples of companies who garnered signups even before the initial lines of codes were written down.

Dropbox had its lines of code written down after getting 75000 signups

The Story:

Source: How DropBox started as a Minimal Viable Product by TechCrunch

Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox and his team of engineers found it difficult to explain their customers what exactly Dropbox did. While trying to understand whether people will give their product a try if they provide superior customer experience, they also discovered that most people did not realize that file synchronization was a persistent problem. Dropbox team was sure a solution to this problem is necessary. However, the air was still not clear. The problem Dropbox was targeting wasn't a very important one, and the market was already packed with existing products that were making less money. “To avoid the risk of waking up after years of development with a product nobody wanted, Drew did something unexpectedly easy: he made a video”.

Dropbox made its demo video in splash demonstrating the technology in three minutes. The video has Drew’s voice in the backdrop narrating simultaneously.

To the casual observer, the Dropbox demo video looked like a normal product demonstration, but we put in about a dozen Easter eggs that were tailored for the Digg audience. References to Tay Zonday and ‘Chocolate Rain’ and allusions to Office Space and XKCD. It was a tongue- in- cheek nod to that crowd, and it kicked off a chain reaction. Within 24 hours, the video had more than 10,000 Diggs.” ~ Drew Houston

Similar are the stories of Airbnb, Groupon, Buffer, Zappos, and more.

Crowdfunded projects also follow the same procedure

Kickstarter projects follow a model where common people make donations to get the product rolling. Crowdfunding has helped many potential products to take off. The model is simple- founders put up their projects with a demo video in it, explaining what their product is about and how it will benefit the users. If the crowd feels the need for the product they make pledges. Each team puts a budget they aim to acquire and also sets number of days through which they want to test their product on that crowdfunding site. If the project is able to close the budget within the given number of days, then the ball gets rolling! Not a line of code or a single marketing strategy begins before that. Once the product is ready, the backers or those who had pledged receives the product as a token!

Soruce: Formlabs

For instance, the 3D Printer Form 1. It is the first affordable high resolution 3D printer. The price of $3,299 does not quite sound enthusiastic, but this is surely a jackpot for schools, labs and designers. It is currently letting their kickstarters backers redeem their Form 1. New customers can pre-order the printer and expect to have it delivered by October 2015.
Goal set: $100,000
Fund Raised: $2,945,885

The idea is simple. You build a product that will help you generate revenue in the long run. Many products take up very fast but comes down crashing.

Let people know what you are building, talk to them about your product. It is very important to let go all the hypothetical assumptions and get seriously real when building a product.

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