What is MVP?
MVP stands for minimum viable product; that is, a product consisting only of the required core features to ensure its viability in the market.
To understand the value of MVP, let’s paint an all-too-typical picture of what happens the old-fashioned way.
When you have an idea for a web-based or mobile app, you make a lot of assumptions. You seemed to know perfectly well how your users would interact with your app, how they would enjoy the design, which monetization strategies would be most efficient for you, and what steps to take to introduce your idea to the world.
Unfortunately, in most cases such assumptions do not work. No one ever knows in advance how any app will be accepted in the marketplace, what your users will actually like and what will distract them from using your product.
Most startup companies spend months or even years developing solutions and investing lots of money in ideas that might never become a success. Upon deployment into a live environment, it is an oft-repeated tragedy when they realize scalable resources have been wasted and features, which seemed to be the most promising, turned out to be completely unappealing to the target market. No one is lining up to purchase your new product or service. Sadly, your new idea does not revolutionize the world.
The main problem among the talented, yet not-too-successful startups, is being caught up in the “greatness” of their idea, they pay little attention to prepare their target audience for the introduction of their new solution. Quite often, they ignore the logical choices and rules, which could have lead them to success, had they only remained rational.
We love startups and wish them great success. So, it is our responsibility to tell our readers about the MVP strategy, following which any startup can greatly increase its chances to create and promote an in-demand product to the targeted audience.
Doing it the MVP way
As we mentioned above, MVP has only minimum core features to ensure its viability in the market. It has near-flawless functionality.
Namely, every word has the following meaning:
Minimum: means “focused”. Find the core needs of your potential customers and offer them the solution with a minimum set of features, sidelining irrelevant additions.
How to determine the required minimum? In most cases, we understand the word “minimum” as just the basics, nothing special. It could be tricky, because minimum does not mean less-qualified professional specialists for the development of your MVP or that you devote less time for QA testing. The mistake would also be to create a poor product or solution that does not solve your customers’ problems. Another wrong interpretation is creating something similar to what is already currently in the market.
Viable: there are only two criteria that will make your product viable—people’s readiness to use it and pay for it.
Product: always remember, your solution should be created to sell.
Although the definitions listed below are no-brainers, too often in real life none of these have been thought through thoroughly before the app goes live.
To avoid falling into such a trap, you need to learn a simple rule: fully focus on that one key function that actually incorporates the essence of your application. Make sure it works as flawlessly as possible then provide your target audience the opportunity to use the application and carefully collect their feedback.
Once you know the key functionality of your app really simplifies life for your target audience, you can then introduce new features in response to their reviews, comments and recommendations.
In other words, MVP is a functioning app containing only basic functionality.
Yet sometimes striving for complex systems is irresistible—separating the actual core presents quite a challenge. How does one distinguish core features from those that seem so necessary yet meet the MVP rule?
– Talk to people, ask their opinion. Immediately, you will understand whether there is a market for your product. If your product has a specific audience—ask them.
– Create a blog or a Facebook page devoted to your idea, see how your audience reacts, how many readers you have, how many likes you get, etc.
– Use Quora—ask questions on that site.
– Work on a presentation; share with your friends and family. Modify it based on their comments. Send it to several investors; collect their feedback.
– Talk to potential customers; ask them if they are willing to pay for your product. Give a small demonstration of your product in front of your target audience. You can even start a campaign on Kickstarter or similar sites.
Let’s cite a few now-famous startups launching their products with basic functionality then gradually adding additional features.
Uber simplifies peoples’ lives by providing options for fast, reasonably priced taxi services.
Facebook helps us find friends [both old and new] and share information.
eBay gives us a platform to buy and sell things.
Google is a superior search engine when we need to find information.
Yes, they all enriched our lives with different features. And, all of them were further developed to improve the core value they offer.
Taking challenges means making mistakes. However, by identifying those mistakes as early as possible is a winning strategy. MVP is the simplest and cheapest way to test demand and/or to understand how successful your idea is, what features do not work and minimize risks to stay compatible based on feedback from real users.
Although MVP is very far from that great idea so many startups envision at the outset, it is the only way to get the hoped-for, expected result and become one more success story.