MVP vs MVB and being your own Product Owner

Andrea Soverini
UX Checklist
Published in
6 min readDec 23, 2018


As I briefly wrote in the story about how it all started, during these last few years, friends, mentors, and designers I’ve spoken with, pointed out that since the UX Project Checklist was used and appreciated by many, I could (or should) have a go and make something out of it.

Because the website started as a side-project for our team’s own interest, there was never a mean to make money out of it, and so I refused a few advertising offers and didn’t invest much money or time myself to evolve it.

Now, I’m taking the chance to experiment and learn how to match the evolution of a product with the constraints of energy, time and money, all while trying to deliver something meaningful and aligned with your users needs and your own values.

The MVP Way

The concept of MVP (Minimum Viable Product) comes from Lean, where learning is prioritised over delivering. You want to create an MVP to reduce waste and learn something quickly.

To be able to learn what to improve, I always had a feedback form running on the website with which the users sent notes and requests that I used to form ideas on what to do next.

When I planned to work on these updates I also already had a basic understanding of who the users were and I just needed to learn one important thing: if what they asked for would have been actually used.

So I started to work on some new little features and ideas about what to do next. If these were going well I’d keep pushing this project.

To me, it looked like a very humble list of releases and I wanted to be sure to make the most out of it.

After completing what I wanted to publish, we spent probably as much time preparing a bulletproof series of emails, planning the release roadmap and the best way to measure all the results, longing for the moment when we’d hit “send” on the first newsletter.

Over the years we collected a good amount of email subscribers, and it was the number that was exciting me the most: it was crazy to think so many people would be there ready to be updated with the latest news!

In fact, they were not.

We sent the first newsletter and the stats were so bad we got blocked on sending another one.

If you start collecting emails, then start engage with your subscribers, IMMEDIATELY and CONSTANTLY!

TIP: You might be well off anyway just by using public social media like Medium or Twitter.

Of course, a lot of those emails were sitting there for too long to still be engaged or they might have been fake all along. Amateur as it sounds, we invested all this time, energy and money (newsletter plan wasn’t free anymore) with the only assumption that a mailing list would have worked for us no matter what.

After doing a good job at developing in a lean way, we failed to learn anything because we planned too much, wasting time on things ultimately not valuable to us.

When you are not learning what you want about your product or users, then you’re doing something wrong and that means you need to improve your process.

What they don’t tell you about LEAN: If you don’t learn about your product, you’re learning about your process.

The MVB way

The concept of MVB (Minimum Viable Business) comes from my frustration of building something that can actually sustain itself, where I don’t lose money or mental health.

…well I thought I just came up with a new term, but apparently someone went through my same situation 😂.
Not to be confused with Minimum Viable Brand, call it indie development, bootstrapping, kickstarting, startupping or whatever, after all that mess I realised I was focusing on the wrong things, I was focusing too much on planning.

The mistakes I described above started to add up quickly in my energy/time/money banks and I had to take a step back and do whatever it was that could keep me and this project going a little more sustainably.

So now I’ll focus on making a business rather than a (digital) product. What do I mean by that? Well, I still don’t want to start selling crap just to make some money, but by “not focusing on the product” I mean that I will consider any other option or channel that can make this work viable.

I started by simply add a way to support the project with donations, and I use a genuine referral program I’ve got for those users who want to start a UX design course (I can be your mentor 😉). And now, we’re selling our first physical product ever: the UX Project Checklist Poster!

😍😍😍 BUY IT NOW! 😍😍😍

And guess what happened? The first order just came through while writing this! 💸💸💸

Historically, many startups, but also many designers, used to fail because they didn’t care about the users and their needs, creating bad products and poor experiences. In the last years, this mentality shifted a lot and pushed good design and great user experience on top of the priorities list for any product maker.

I too paid the price for over thinking what I was working on and not seeing other options to deliver something that would help the business as well.

The bar for what feels an MVP should look like is quite high, but we need to remind ourselves that a healthy product needs to create a healthy business as well.

There are many other ways and ideas we have to go about keeping this project going, and passion will likely still be a good fueling factor, but I’d rather be able to see some results to be more serious about it and get some results!

Being your own Product Owner

Being a designer is challenging to play your own Product Owner (PO), forcing yourself to focus on other types of tasks, making choices that sacrifice design over the need to get something else done.

You are the PO and the whole rest of the team at the same time. You have to make choices that sacrifice design over something else. You need to bring your marketing plans together with your development roadmap, meet user needs and business goals, all while not building a crappy product and keep your team happy (or yourself sane!).

Another important thing to understand when we’re wearing many hats is that there are skills that are good to learn and others that might just get on your way for pride or for the illusion of saving money.

When I started working on the website I felt compelled to work on every single feature myself just because that was my own project.

Since I did frontend development years ago before moving into UX, coding was no more on top of my favorite activities and I was obviously quite bad at it too.

The result was that I was just getting frustrated and wasting time because I thought that if I were not coding I wasn’t learning anything else.

But then I figured that if I was using the same amount of time to help other people with the skills I’m really good at, I could easily get a developer to help me out with some of those tasks. I realised that I was not only learning how to be my own PO, but also how to be an entrepreneur.

Do you like this project? Support us!

As you might understand, this poster is not just a poster to us.

It is a way to financing this project so we can further improve it.

Believe us, we don’t make much money on this. Well, so far we never make any money at all actually, and if any will come, we’ll make it worth it!

But a little bonus will help us to keep going with some bigger stuff that we have planned!

If you do ❤️ this and if you ❤️ us:


👏 give me a clap

✍️ follow me here on Medium and or on Twitter

🐦 tweet about us or share the UX Project Checklist with your network.

and if you have any comment on this story or on the UX Project Checklist itself just comment below or reach out to me anywhere!