Creating a totally new product and getting it to the market is always a gamble. One of the best ways to lower the risk is by building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) The creation of MVPs has saved many founders from investing tons of money and energy into ineffectual products and features.
Leverage this article, which serves as an insightful guideline, to help new startups successfully build an MVP and avoid common mistakes. Let's go through the main points to form an understanding of how to build an MVP.
The term MVP was coined back in 1987 by Frank Robinson, CEO of Santa Barbara-based SyncDev. According to Frank himself,
In other words, a minimum viable product definition can be thought of as the smallest possible thing you can put on the market that will still give you useful data once released.
MVP existed in many different forms over the years but its popularity exploded when Eric Ries explained the term in his book, the Lean Startup.
One of the crucial and distinctive features of an MVP is that it should be able to potentially satisfy the customers of a startup at every single stage of release, starting from the very first one. So, when creating an MVP, you aren’t just building and releasing separate pieces of your future all-inclusive product. What you are doing is creating the simplest working form of the product to keep your customers captivated.
The best way to explain this is the viral image constructed by Henrik Kniberg.
Not every shortened product is actually an MVP. Below are seven common mistakes you should dodge when building an MVP for startup.
If doing any of the above mistakes you risk getting something different from an MVP. It may be not minimal, not viable or even not a product.
It's obvious that any new product business should start from the development of the product itself. But why MVP? Why is this particular approach so popular?
Substantially, it gives a new company a possibility to:
All these benefits made the MVP approach extremely popular. And yes, it has proven its rationality over years.
As one of the successful examples, you can see our case of creating a media monitoring platform called LookSMI.
Our task was to create a universal platform that is able to collect and analyze information from all open sources. At the same time, the product had to unify all types of media in one format, load information from more than 10,000 different media sources into a single database, have a clear and convenient interface for clients, as well as automate reporting.
As a result, the customer wanted to complete these tasks and launch a prototype of the system in 1 month.
Here you can find all the details regarding the solution and its implementation, but looking ahead, we can say that we were able to successfully launch the product within the specified time frame, and later the system acquired additional functionality and improvements on the customer's side.
Okay, MVP is good. But what should it look like? Maybe you should use a minimum viable product template? The examples above are so different.
We'll tell you that there might be as many types of MVPs, as many products may be developed. But of course, we can somehow categorize them to bring some order into chaos.
So, there are the main types every MVP creator should consider.
When you make an MVP of this type, you don’t even necessarily have to build a product. All you need to do here is to mimic the product by offering your customers a totally manual, hands-on service.
A classical example is Food on the Table. Manuel Rosso, the owner of the company, looked for a few people who were interested in his experiment and offered them a VIP service where he interviewed them, manually looked for their desired recipes, identified their favorite ingredients, and helped them find discounts and coupons from their local stores. For all this, Paul got a $10 check after every week. What was very important for him in implementing this type of MVP wasn’t the money but to gain more insights into what his customers really wanted.
The Wizard of Oz is quite similar to the Concierge MVP type, except that in this case, you don’t let the customers know that your product isn’t complete yet. You find a way to give an impression that your product is already finished and evaluate their reaction – are they eager to get it right away or they simply don’t care about the existence of your product?
Nick Swinmurn, the brains behind the billion dollar company, Zappos, implemented the Wizard of Oz MVP very well. Nick wanted to know if people are interested in buying shoes online without putting them on first. Instead of ordering dozens of shoes to try out the idea, Swinmurn simply went to other stores, took pictures and posted them online to see people’s reactions. In Nick’s case, people actually liked the idea – and they still do, Zappos is currently worth 1.3 billion dollars.
The Purpose of a Content MVP is to build awareness about your product in such a way that you can get real feedback from your potential customers. This can be a landing page, a questionnaire or even a demo video.
One of the most successful companies which implemented the Content MVP was DropBox mentioned above. Drew Houston, the founder of DropBox, simply created a 3-minute video explaining his idea. This alone was enough to create an explosion of interest and allow him to validate his concept from his customers’ perspective.
When it comes to tech-savvy products such as Saas or Android and iOS apps, the best MVP application type is a software prototype. The basic requirements are that it should contain the core features and essential components needed to make it appealing to early adopters. In this case, it is also very essential to implement Agile project management. Most tech companies, especially smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung implement this type of MVP.
These are not the only MVP types that exist. There may be various other types of MVPs you can implement (or combinate) as long they do not deviate from the core principles of a Minimum Viable Product.
These steps will help you understand in practice how to build a minimum viable product.
Here in Gearheart, we have a vast experience in building MVPs for different companies which then gained multi-million investments. It's something we actually specialize in — planning and creation of minimum viable products before launching to the market.
Over the years we have mastered the MVP development process so that:
One of our clients was able to successfully present his product on the Demo Day event in the Y Combinator seed accelerator less than in 1 month after we started working on. Yes, it was a challenge, and yes we completed it.
All this is possible thanks to hiring professional and experienced developers and managers who really know what to do, and also to our years of experience precisely in the creation of MVP products.
Go from idea to launching your own MVP. We are ready to discuss your vision.
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