The minimum viable product or the MVP was introduced as part of the The Lean Startup methodology.
A minimum viable product is essentially defined as building the feature(s) of your product that are absolutely necessary to provide the answer to a question. It is a value experiment to both you and the business that helps you to understand if the product you are creating is actually “viable”.
Do customers want it? Does it work as you anticipated? Is there a need for it in the market? Do people interact with it as you expect?
Clearly defined experiments will help you to build a better product.
The MVP could be just a small component of what you are building overall, but it should be considered as an experiment.
Often the MVP of a product can be looked at as a throw away item, something that you used to gain traction, early customer adoption or just to test a theory before investing in the larger product. This approach leads to high value results at a considerably lower cost than if you were to build the finished product.
Author of “The Lean Startup”, Eric Ries, explains that “As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.”
You might consider a minimum viable product to test a component of your idea, ensure that the market actually wants your product or test a new way of engaging with your target audience.
A common mistake with MVP’s is to try to use them as a foundation to build the final product. This will lead to either over complicating the spec, leading to inefficiencies in time of delivery and cost, or losing focus. Your MVP then becomes version 1.0 of your whole product as opposed to being the experiment it should have been originally.
MVP’s are highly recommended for any tech based startup, but always remember to:
- Define the outcomes you wish to achieve from your MVP.
- Don’t be greedy, try to prove just a few things at a time.
- Remember that you’re building an MVP to prove a simple hypothesis or answer a question, not the finished product.
“Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”