What is Minimum Viable Product – MVP?

Would you like to check your assumptions about the problem, the solution and the market about your product economically? Do you want to get better feedback from your users? If the answer to these questions is in positive, you need MVP approach.

What is MVP?

The minimum viable product (MVP) is one of the bases of the Lean Startup methodology and it is one of its most interesting contributions.

To know the definition of the term, pay attention to its name and you will have many clues but to finish it to tune, we can say that the minimum viable product is one that allows us to launch the product with minimal features (characteristics) as possible so that we can learn relevant information from its launch and use by users through a series of metrics.

Unlike other methodologies such as Customer Development, Lean Startup does not extract knowledge directly from the customer but it is deduced empirically through the launch of various iterations of the MVP, controlling a number of metrics that can extract knowledge that nurtures the next iteration.

THE LOOP BUILD-MEASURE-LEARN AND MVP

BUILD-MEASURE-LEARN-loop-of-MVP

The minimum viable product strategy is designed to work with the loop build-measure-learn, so that with each new iteration, a new MVP is constructed that is based on previous or entirely new set of metrics that can be used to measure the reaction of users and finally learn all this information for a new iteration.

The process is done in this order but arises in the reverse order, ie first conduct a series of hypotheses that we want to see (learn), we define a set of indicators or metrics that take us to extract information to help us verify the hypothesis (measure) and finally build the minimum viable product you need to measure and learn about our hypothesis.

The assumptions are varied; starting the first iteration with the basic question: is there a set of users with the problem that our product aims to solve? If the answer is no, you have to rethink everything again, if the answer is yes, you have taken the first step to success.

THE MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT IS NOT DEVELOPED FOR THE MASSES BUT FOR EARLY ADOPTERS

Clearly, a product having the minimum features necessary to confirm or reject our hypothesis, may not be enough to please the most demanding entity, which becomes the bulk of the mass market.

However, there are a number of clients grouped under the name of early adopters, leaving aside the rigor to embrace products under development and are only provided with the latest information to try new things. It is with this audience in mind with which we must consider the whole process.

Later, when you test the most important hypotheses, you will change course to focus on the big market, but it is a step that remains still far away.

PERSEVERE OR PIVOT

Each new iteration gives us a new loop of MVP that revolves around the build-measure-learn concept. These iterations accept the hypothesis as true, as false or indicate the need to reformulate metrics or change them for re-checking.

With each new iteration or at least iterations that meet the main assumptions as the existence of market or engine of growth, you must make a momentous decision. You must not delay in time to preserve it or to pivot.

If the assumptions are quite accurate, persevere iterations based on the line you are following. And if you’re no closer to the right solution, pivot and change drastically the formulation of hypothesis.

This is one of the most important mechanisms of Lean Startup methodology and should be taken very seriously without being afraid to take the decision to pivot if necessary. In order to make a coherent decision it is important that our metrics are offering us real knowledge about users, actionable metrics, and let us not be carried away by the figures of the conceited metrics.

RELEASE EARLY, RELEASE OFTEN

Release early, release often is a mantra of agile methodologies that suggests us to launch the product as soon as possible and from there, relaunching very often.

Lean Startup is no stranger to this procedure, but if you go with it without thinking of the whole product, it can bring unwanted situations. For example, you can consider not to look beyond situations guided by the short-term user experiences.

However, with MVP what we seek is to test our hypotheses for the product vision, i.e. we try to verify that we have found a problem that our product can solve efficiently. This is the reason that early adopters are willing to pay for a solution. But how can we always have our vision in mind? Well, with each new release, we try to approach a step further and test the minimum set of features that provide us with the relevant information regarding the early adopters.

START SMALL

As discussed earlier, at the first hypothesis you should check whether there is a market for the product you want to develop or not. So before you start developing, verify that you have actually encountered a problem that people want be solved.

To test this hypothesis you can develop such a small minimum viable product as a landing page (landing page) in which you explain the problems you have detected and announced that you are developing a solution for it. You only need a small amount of money to spend on a small AdWords campaign and landing page form so that interested parties can receive information about our product.

The metrics in the initial MVP provide us with the relevant information to be learnt that are not metric vain as the number of page views or number of subscriptions, but actionable metrics such as the percentage of users who have subscribed at a certain time with respect to the total users who have visited the page in the same period.

These metrics simply allow us to iterate on our MVP so you do reformulations of the problem and to check if the percentage of subscriptions increases or decreases, you pass hypotheses about our solution through a test. In case you have not gotten an appropriate percentage, (set before making experiments) in a number of iterations, this will allow us to learn that the problem detected does not have sufficient market and therefore you have saved developing a product that nobody would buy. And all these results can be deduced from a simple landing page!

If you are affirming our assumptions and adapting them gradually, our MVP is growing and adapting to all learning that you have been getting with each iteration, so that you approach the actual product with the lowest possible expense. Isn’t it great? What did you think of this MVP approach to product development? Would you like to give your idea a try using MVP? If yes, we are available at your disposal with all our expertise.