Let’s say that you have this GREAT idea — a microblogging app that’s exactly like Twitter, but you can’t use the letter E.
You bootstrap yourself from the ground up, build the entire product complete with profile sharing, microblogging groups and communities, a full-scale advertising platform and achievement badges, only to crash and burn and fail miserably. Because obviously, the idea was idiotic all along. And you were idiotic enough not to have a minimum viable product.
Minimum Viable Product
A minimum viable product is a product that features just enough functionality to entice and satisfy early adopters. It’s less expensive and time-consuming to develop, and it provides data and feedback that can help with further development and/or eventual pivoting. It also lets you test not only the product, but the initial assumption about the problem you’re solving.
In case of the ill-fated Twitter-but-better idea, an MVP would be a microblogging app that doesn’t let you use the letter E. Nothing more and nothing less. Microblogging, by default, involves user interaction, so user accounts and connecting with each other are a given. Any bells and whistles, such as ten kinds of likes or even profile photos are not.
Here are some rules for a real MVP
- The product must be minimal. Simplify. What can you take out that doesn’t disturb the initial intent?
- The product must be viable. Keep thinking about the initial proposition of the product. If your product is a vehicle, it needs to take the customer from point A to point B. If your app is an instant messenger, it needs to send messages… and do it instantly.
- The product must be a product. It needs to be clear about what it’s proposing, what is the problem it’s challenging and how it benefits the user. It should look good and feel finished, despite the minimal core functionality.
Let’s say your MVP of the Twitter-but-better app finds its way to a considerable user base. The data collected clearly shows that the users aren’t really interested in microblogging without the letter E. However, the user profiles are starting to get used for dating. It’s time to drop the initial assumption about the problem and pivot into a dating app. An MVP lets you quickly analyze user-generated data and pivot as necessary, quickly finding out the true value of your proposition.
After all, the MVP can be successfully used to test multiple propositions. Just pay attention not to overwhelm the product with functionalities.
And remember, the goal of the MVP isn’t to scale or generate revenue — the goal of the MVP is to measure and collect data which will help you understand the market you’re aiming for. Viable and precise data will help you focus, iterate and hopefully attract further investment.
An MVP lets you make bets on a product without breaking the bank. Listen to the users. Measure, evaluate, fail fast, fail often, pivot when possible. And if you need a truly professional opinion, let us know.