What is a minimum viable product?
Definition of a Minimum Viable Product
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is an early iteration of a product or software solution designed to have all the functionality necessary for launch but without the ‘bells and whistles’ or nice-to-haves typically included in later iterations.
The History Of Minimum Viable Product
Early in the millennium, Eric Ries, a significant contributor to the Lean Startup approach, popularized the concept of MVPs for the first time. He defines a minimum viable product (MVP) as “that version of a new product that allows a team to collect the greatest amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort.” Importantly, Ries qualifies this description by stating that “an MVP, despite the name, is not about generating the bare minimum of things.” The MVP is not required if your purpose is to “scratch an itch” or construct something for a one-time flip.”
So, what precisely does he mean by this?
Team members should view the minimal viable product as a learning tool rather than a fast track to market, as the development, launch, and evaluation of a Minimum Viable Product will, in many cases, add more steps to a product’s development process. In addition, the implementation of Minimum Viable Products would indeed necessitate an additional budget, but believe us when we say that this is money that your company will spend well.
A product’s development can be risky if you spend too much time and money upfront. We’ve all seen examples of items that have been released to the market only to be used in an entirely unforeseen way by the creators.
For example, a team may believe it is introducing a much-needed location-based check-in software with photo-sharing capabilities, only to discover that users are growing disinterested in sharing their location and becoming interested in sharing their images. It is possible to make a quick pivot during the development process to meet the needs of your users better if you start early enough.
Because of this, Burbn (yep, the check-in software) was able to reinvent itself as Instagram, which was made possible in part by the company’s Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
Importance Of Minimum Viable Product
A team can decide to start with a minimal viable product.
Perhaps there is fierce rivalry in the marketplace, and you need to establish your claim as soon as possible. Alternatively, you may vent into uncharted terrain and need to validate your concept with real-world people in a realistic situation.
It doesn’t matter whatever approach you take; delivering an MVP to end-users is a terrific way to gather valuable input while time and money are still needed to improve.
For all of the reasons listed above and several others, minimal viable products are critical components of agile and lean development. MVPs enable rapid testing and iterative feedback loops, ultimately involving the end-user in the development process in a more collaborative manner.
Examples for a Minimum Viable Product
If you’re like most people, you’re astonished to find that many of the world’s most successful brands began as minimal viable products. Some of our favorite stories include the following:
The world’s largest housing platform, Airbnb, began with a blow-up mattress on the floor and three paying guests who booked through a simple website called AirBed&Breakfast. Today, it is the world’s largest accommodation platform.
In a short period, founders Chesky and Gebbia discovered that individuals were prepared to pay for the opportunity to stay in a local’s home and gain access to all of the neighborhood knowledge that came with it.
The fact that Twitter began as an internal service for audio provider Odeo is challenging to imagine in this day and age of 500 million Tweets sent every day.
Initially, Twitter’s “hook” allowed groups of people to share updates by SMS — but this quickly spun out of hand, resulting in employees spending hundreds of thousands on telephone bills.
Astonished by the unexpected popularity of their product, the Twitter team made it public (and ditched the expensive SMS communications in favor of Tweets!)
It wasn’t until Spotify that music streaming became a mainstream phenomenon, and it all started with a Minimum Viable Product.
To guarantee they were always moving in the correct direction, the Spotify team followed a four-stage iterative development cycle: think about it. Design it. Build it. It must be constructed. Send it on its way. Make some changes.
When it was launched in 2009, the desktop application only had one prominent feature: the ability to broadcast music.
Following confirmation that this assumption was correct, Spotify incorporated more beliefs, such as social features, playlist creation, and tailored content. The company is constantly learning from user feedback and adapting appropriately.
Minimum Viable Product Pros And Cons
The essential advantage Of using a minimum viable product is that it allows you to learn about your clients’ interest in your product without building it. The sooner you can determine whether your product will be appealing to clients, the less time and money you will waste on a product that will not flourish in the market.
On the other hand, Teams utilize the phrase MVP without fully comprehending its intended application or connotation. This lack of awareness is frequently manifested in the belief that an MVP is the least amount of functionality they can give without the additional condition of being adequate to learn about the product’s financial viability.
Teams may also mistake an MVP, which focuses on learning, with a Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF) or Minimum Marketable Product (MMP), which focuses on earning. There isn’t much damage in this until the team becomes overly focused on providing something without thinking if it is the correct item that meets the consumer’s demands.
How to Find Your Minimum Viable Product
You are finding out what your minimum viable product looks like is a difficult task.
Returning to Ries’ definition of the Least Viable Product, we can see that it is not formulaic. What constitutes “maximum learning” and “minimum effort” will differ from one firm to another and from one product to another.
How do you know if you’re hitting the bare minimum of a feasible sweet spot?
First and foremost, you must reevaluate your strategic business purpose – what exactly are you attempting to accomplish with this product or software system? And for what purpose is this progress being pursued?
For example, in the case of recycling, if your goal is to encourage more people to recycle, what precisely will you do to promote this behavior change?
The option to interact with other users — to track what they’ve recycled and when they’ve recycled it, and to ‘like’ each other’s posts — may be essential if you believe that social validation is crucial for motivation.
On the other hand, if your strategic goal is to launch your product and organically develop your user base by 1000 percent in just one month, you must implement a user referral program.
Any elements that aren’t critical to achieving your strategic goal can be held until a subsequent version is released.
Second, you need to get back to work on your research. What exactly do users expect you to provide them with?
If you’ve identified an unmet need during your early insight collecting and competitive analysis, then that’s what your Minimum Viable Product should aim to fill with its first release.
True, you may need to weigh the importance of these requirements against the time and cost of development. On the other hand, you can rapidly determine the relative effort compared to the value-added with a basic prioritizing template.
Last but not least, it is critical to ensure that your MVP is genuinely usable.
No matter how early in the development process, the product you launch must always give a positive user experience. It simply cannot appear rushed or unfinished – every button must work properly, and you must be confident that the software is devoid of problems and faults.
A Minimum Viable Offering (MVP) might be the first iteration of a market-ready solution, but launching with an inferior product is counter-intuitive. The worst-case scenario for any new firm is to disappoint their customers because they will go elsewhere.
How To Use a Minimum Viable Product
Using an MVP correctly implies that a team may drastically revise a product they give to their clients or quit the project altogether based on input from their customers. The MVP element pushes teams to perform as little work as possible to get relevant feedback (Eric Ries refers to this as verified learning), which helps them avoid working on a product that no one wants.