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The ultimate guide to building a Minimum-Viable-Product (MVP)

What is a minimum viable product or MVP?

A minimum viable product is a bare-bones version of your product, with minimum features, that allows you to test the most important assumptions about your idea.

By creating an MVP, you can get feedback from your target market early on in the process, which can help you make necessary changes or improvements before launching a full-fledged product.

“Minimum viable product” is a term coined by Frank Robinson and popularized by Eric Ries, founder of the Lean Startup methodology. Ries says that the MVP is the version of a new product that allows the team to gather the most information about what customers want with the least amount of effort.

Creating an MVP doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.

By launching an MVP, you can validate or invalidate your hypotheses, learn what your customers really want, and make necessary changes or improvements before launching a full-fledged product.

Before you create an MVP, it’s important to understand the basics of minimum viable products and how to create one that’s perfect for your business.

A step-by-step guide to building an MVP

The first step to building an MVP is to identify the problem you’re trying to solve. This can be done through market research or customer interviews.

Once you’ve identified the problem, you need to validate that it’s a real problem worth solving. This can be done by talking to more potential customers or conducting user testing.

Once you’ve validated the problem, you need to find a value proposition that will help solve it.

This is the core of your MVP.

It’s important to keep this simple and focused. You don’t want to try to solve too many problems with your MVP or you’ll never get it off the ground.

Once you have your value proposition, you need to identify 1-3 key features that you can build to help provide that value.

These features should be the bare minimum that you need to get your MVP off the ground.

Once you have your key features identified, it’s time to build your MVP.

This doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. The goal is to get something in front of your users as quickly as possible so you can get feedback and learn from them.

Once you have your MVP, it’s time to deliver it to your users. This can be done through a variety of channels depending on your product.

Once you have it in front of your users, it’s important to get feedback so you can improve your MVP.

The cycle of building an MVP doesn’t stop once you’ve delivered it to your users.

You need to continue the cycle of build – measure – learn.

This means constantly iterating and improving your MVP based on feedback. Only by doing this can you ensure that your MVP is truly successful.

 

Lean startup canvas
Lean business canvas

Real-world examples of a minimum viable product

1. The Dropbox explainer video MVP

Drew made a video of his prototype to show people how it worked.

He released the video on Dropbox and on  Hacker News in 2007. This video was good enough to get them to YCombinator.

2. Airbnb

The first Airbnb MVP was a simple website that allowed users to list their spare bedrooms or entire homes for rent. n Airbnb’s case, their MVP was:

  • A basic website
  • 3x airbeds
  • Breakfast

Chesky and Gebbia (the founders of Airbnb) found that people from different backgrounds are willing to pay to stay in a stranger’s home.

They did this by having personal interactions with people.

This study also showed what customers wanted from the experience. This helped the company design and build its online offering.

3. Zappos

Nick Swinmurn, the founder of Zappos, loved shoes.

He had a hypothesis that people would be interested in buying shoes online.

To validate his idea, he once went to a shoe store in San Francisco and asked its owner about current inventory.

He made a deal with the store owner that whenever someone buys shoes from his website, he will come over and buy the shoes from the store.

The store owner agreed to this, and Nick started a basic website with a bunch of shoe photos taken by himself at the store.

What happened next? The website started receiving orders and helped validate the idea.

4. Twitter

Twitter was first created as a way for people to communicate with each other using SMS messages. But it soon became much more than that.

Now, Twitter is a powerful tool that can help brands succeed, and it’s also a great way to network with people all over the world.

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5. Basecamp

Basecamp was created because the team at a design firm called 37signals needed a better way to manage projects.

They were frustrated with the problems they faced trying to use email to manage projects. When they couldn’t find an alternative that worked, they decided to build their own.

The first version had a message board for updates and feedback, to-do lists to keep track of things, and milestones to keep deadlines in check.

6. Groupon

We all love getting a good deal, right? Groupon did just that.

They started out by having a WordPress page with a list of customers who were interested in deals. This helped them to convert these leads into revenue.

Then they used this revenue to create their backend and voucher system.

7. Slack

The first Slack MVP was a basic chat application that allowed users to communicate with each other in real time.

8. Uber

The first Uber MVP was a simple phone app that allowed users to request and pay for rides from drivers in their area.

Uber was started in 2009 as “UberCab.”

The company began with a small number of cars and a simple app used only by the founders and their friends.

With the “invite-only” marketing tactic, the list of users grew slowly.

In July 2010, they released the product in San Francisco. Next year, they released it in New York & Paris.

9. Facebook

Facebook was launched as a social media platform to connect students from various universities.

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg was a genius programmer and built the prototype of the platform out of his dorm room.

Facebook relied heavily on the network effect — the value generated when many users join the network.

10. Buffer

Buffer was created as a tool for scheduling tweets. The founder, Joel Gascoigne, believed that this one feature was so valuable that it deserved its own application.

To prove his point, Joel built the first version of Buffer as a landing page with bullet points explaining the product and directing users to the plans and pricing page.

The next landing page showed different pricing plans.

Buffer used the data from clicks on the paid plans to see if its product was commercially feasible. T

hey then asked users to submit their email IDs so they could give them updates about the product’s release.

Buffer was first released to the public on 30th November 2010 and was well-received by all internet publications and marketers.

 

When to create an MVP?

There are a few different situations when it might be appropriate to create an MVP:

1. You’re not sure if there’s a market for your product.

2. You’re not sure if your product is solving the right problem.

3. You’re not sure if your product is technically viable.

4. You need to validate your business model.

5. You need to get feedback from your target market.

6. You need to raise investment capital.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, it might be time to create an MVP. By doing so, you can validate your product idea and make sure you’re on the right track before investing a lot of time and money into developing a full-fledged product.

 

Minimum Viable Product Checklist

Here’s a checklist of what you need to do to create an MVP:

1. Define your goals and objectives for the MVP. What do you want to achieve with it?

2. Identify your target market and user group. Who will you be creating the MVP for?

3. Identify the most important features of your product. What are the must-haves?

4. Create a prototype of your product. This can be as simple as a wireframe or mockup.

5. Test your MVP with your target market and user group. Get feedback and make changes accordingly.

6. Launch your MVP!

By following these steps, you can create an MVP that will help you validate your product idea and get feedback from your target market. This feedback can then be used to make necessary changes or improvements before launching a full-fledged product.

 

Difference between an MVP and a POC, prototype, pilot, and, beta

In many cases, these words are used interchangeably but there are differences between each.

To simplify, here are the different concepts defined in the order of how they are made. You start with a proof of concept and then after iterations, you release the beta version, before launching your full-fledged product.

POC (Proof of Concept)

A POC is a demonstration that something can be done. It’s usually used to test a specific concept or theory.

Every software solution starts with a good idea. Somebody has the idea of how the software could work well and make things better.

Proof of concept is a real-life confirmation that the idea will work as you’ve expected in the particular business environment while being powered by a set of technologies.

Prototype

A prototype is a working model of your product. It’s usually used to test the feasibility of your product and to get feedback from users.

A prototype is the first visual embodiment of your POC. Proof of concept vs prototype can be relayed as general and particular.

The proof of concept is a general but well-researched and confirmed suggestion of idea feasibility, while a prototype is the visual realization of some hypothesis.

A prototype is usually the front-end design of the product and how it will work in real life, but without the backend yet built.

Interactive wireframes and clickable mockups are examples of prototypes.

MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

An MVP is a bare-bones version of your product that allows you to test the most important assumptions about your idea.

Pilot

A pilot is a small-scale test or trial of your product. It’s usually used to gather data and feedback before launching a full-fledged product.

A pilot project is often referred to as an already workable and marketable solution.

When you’re building a product/service in enterprise B2B, pilots are most common where enterprises launch the project to a segment of their customers to get feedback and measure results.

Beta

Beta is a version of your product that’s available to the general public. It’s usually used to gather data and feedback before launching a full-fledged product.

Beta is the phase of a product that is like the MVP. It has the same features but it is also timed.

We need to build a product that we can launch to the market.

We have already tested how many people will use our product, if it is a good business decision, and how we will technically install it. Now we need to make sure our product is solid and ready for future plans like marketing and sales.

 

As you can see, there are some similarities between these terms but they each have their own distinct purpose.

POCs are used to test a specific concept or theory, prototypes are used to test the feasibility of your product, MVPs are used to test the most important assumptions about your idea, pilots are used to gathering data and feedback before launching a full-fledged product, and betas are used to gather data and feedback before launching a full-fledged product.

When deciding which one to use, it’s important to understand the difference and purpose of each so that you can choose the right tool for the job.

Limitations of MVP

While MVPs offer a great way to test product assumptions, there are certain limitations that should be considered.

For example, an MVP cannot completely test whether or not a product will be successful in the market.

Additionally, if your MVP does not include all of the features of the final product, you may not be able to get an accurate sense of how customers will react to the full product.

It’s also important to note that MVPs are not suitable for all products. For example, if you’re developing a life-saving medical device, it’s probably not a good idea to launch an MVP.

In this case, it’s important to make sure that your product is safe and effective before launching it to the public.

Creating an MVP can be a great way to test your product assumptions and get feedback from customers. However, it’s important to keep in mind the limitations of MVPs and to make sure that they are suitable for your product.

Do you have any questions about minimum viable products? Write to us.

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