What is a Minimum Viable Product?
25.10.2018 - As an entrepreneur, you would probably like to develop your product with many features that are fully functioning, having responded to all problems that increase the odds that customers will want it. The unfortunate truth is that no matter how much you validate and research your product, it will never be perfect. A more effective approach to product development and the best method of product validation is to build a product with a minimum set of features needed to learn from the early evangelists - Visionary early adaptors. Then make frequent, incremental improvements based on the feedback you solicit and receive from the potential customers.
The explanation of MVP Minimum Viable Product
Behind the development of a minimum viable products is the mind-set of the Lean Start-up method by Eric Ries . True to the motto KISS (Keep It Short & Simple), it's about launching a product as fast as possible, so it is not an oversized project set up that takes years to develop a product. Instead, the goal of an MVP strategy is to get started quickly with a small but functional product. This can be an app that has few core features, or an online store with a manageable number of products. An MVP is not a prototype! A minimum viable product has only a few features, but these must run as smoothly as possible. The product should therefore be practicable and viable on its own. The focus is on the quality of the product – Which potentially gives the user the greatest added value. The minimum of Functions should not be confused with minimum user experience. One way for a start-up company to secure feedback is to deliver the minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP approach is based on the fact that you can provide sufficient customer value by delivering minimal features that early adopters will use. You can then collect feedback from users that will enable you to build a better product that will resonate with future users. However, according to the MVP approach, solve the most important and most basic problems, and then gather feedback. The idea is to maximize your learning and minimize your development costs. The minimum viable product approach involves only prioritizing the basic requirements to the point that they deliver core functionality; the rest of the features are only “Exciters”. Most start-ups are tempted to release their product early and often. However, this is effective only if you can collect good feedback from the potential customers who understand your vision and see beyond the current limited functionality. Unlike a product designed down to the last detail, the MVP has an advantage of a much shorter time-to-market. Long preliminary studies, extensive Surveys in the area of market research and extensive requirement specifications are not compatible with the concept of MVP. Instead, there is a quick focus on the most promising features. Subsequently this is implemented in the form of a prototype and validated with defined target customers before development begins. An MVP is no longer a prototype, but a working first product that the customer has to pay for (not necessarily in monetary terms).
The Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop
Build-Measure-Learn is one of the central principles of Lean Start-up – a highly effective approach to start-up development pioneered by Eric Ries. The job of a start-up is to find a successful revenue model that can be developed with further investment. Build-Measure-Learn is a framework for establishing and continuously improving the effectiveness of the products and ideas quickly and cost-effectively. The model involves a cycle of creating and testing hypotheses by building something small for potential customers to try, measure their reactions, and learn from the results. The aim is to continuously improve your ideas so that you eventually deliver precisely what your customers expect. Build-Measure-Learn may sound simplistic, but it has been a game-changing technique for all the businesses that have developed products without getting potential customer’s input. Sometimes, companies would get lucky, but many companies wound up making sophisticated products that no user wanted. It suits best for fast-changing, high-risk environments, where research is difficult to conduct and customers are unclear about their needs. As you go through repeated iterations of Build-Measure-Learn, your MVP will become more complex. But your priority, as a start-up, should be to prove the demand for your proposed product, not to build a fully functioning model that's full of advanced features.
Prototype Vs Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
When starting with a new idea there are a lot of unknowns. In order to get a better understanding of certain problems, you can create small prototypes. This will help experiment different options to solve the problem and maybe even also get some feedback from potential users. There are many shortcuts used building a prototype so a prototype should never be used in the final product. It is best to gather the results, remove the prototype and start from scratch to implement the feature in a product. There are always enough ideas for new features. Building every new feature and then releasing your product will take a lots of time and is waste of value. The MVP development technique can help you to define the required features to get your product to the potential user. It’s all about what is really required in order to use the product. We make a fundamental distinction between MVPs and prototypes. Prototypes are representations of products, services, or business models that have the purpose of reconciling different ideas to new ideas or learning about innovation processes in early stages and reducing uncertainties. Prototypes are either discarded after the fulfilment of the purpose or, if necessary, further developed later. An MVP serves a different purpose: MVPs are by our definition the first version of the market offer. They should embody the DNA of the business model 100% and give customers the value promised to them. MVPs serve to test a business model with minimal effort but under realistic conditions it is to validate the hypotheses that cannot be solved with simple prototypes. Typically, MVPs and related business models must be developed to the point where customers can even be billed.