How to understand MVPs and save your startup from FAILING

Building Apps The Wright Brothers’ Way


Too many founders I talk to are still building a gazillion features into their apps before they launch. Somehow the MVP is a mighty difficult concept to grasp if you haven’t experienced the burn of a failed product development first hand.

To alleviate the problem a bit and hopefully save some poor fellows time I tried to think of a metaphor that could convey this in a more straightforward way.

It goes like this:

Think about your product as the Wright Brothers’ first plane. The plane doesn’t have air conditioning, leather seats, windshield — it doesn’t even have a cabin. It is not pretty, it is not colourful, it is not even SAFE. On the contrary it only does one thing and one thing only: it flies. Nothing more, nothing less. This is how your MVP should be.

Is your MVP in this barebone state ready for the prime time? Hell no. But at this stage competing in the marketplace is not one of your goals. On the contrary, right now you are to find out (a) if people want to fly at all (b) how much are they willing to pay for it, and (c) what makes for a great flying experience.

Treating your MVP as the final product is a sure-fire way to startup failure. Don’t make this mistake. Instead, keep asking yourself what is the bare minimum you can get away with. Immediately once you have that basic structure in place start improving your product based on user reactions.

Now take another look at Wright Brothers’ plane on this post’s cover image. If a man needs that little to fly, does he really need a lot to use your app?


Hi, I’m a freelance UX designer based in Amsterdam. I run UXTailor, a web design + dev studio, write about tech and tweet at @piotrbakker.

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