In my time in the whole startup world I’ve come to notice that Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is understood somewhat differently to most founders. Lately I have been getting the question of “What is Minimum Viable Product” more often and that’s why I’ve taken some time to shed some light on how we see it.
To start off what Minimum Viable Product means to us, I would like to quote an article from Wikipedia:
A Minimum Viable Product has just those features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. The product is typically deployed to a subset of possible customers, such as early adopters that are thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information. It is a strategy targeted at avoiding building products that customers do not want, that seeks to maximize the information learned about the customer per dollar spent.
From my own experience when working with various startups is that you don’t need to necessarily have that simplified approach. For us, a MVP means simply a limited subset of features and a possibility of some manual labor by the founder. However, by no means should it be acceptable that MVP stands for a crappy product. The user interface, and the user experience in general, has to be absolutely brilliant from the day one. That’s how you will create fans who love your product.
On most cases it should be possible to create a Minimum Viable Product in about 3 months of development. Of course it takes more time and resources if you’re building a SaaS platform to maintain nuclear power plants. Not doing anything that high scale? Well, 3 months should be enough to put together a simple, yet beautiful, product that gives your future customers something to work with. Something that gets them thinking on what more could they use and what could be changed in the product. Now that’s a perfect position to be in and I bet that most founders would love to be there.
You can start building some traction with that product, get more ideas on which features to implement and just do what your customers will love. Instead of going somewhat blindly in guessing what they might want. If you’re lucky, you can even implement billing/subscription plans and already start charging customers for the awesome service you have built for them.
I believe that the following will conclude it perfectly. Minimum Viable Product will help to remove the guesswork in building your awesome product or service.
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