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Minimum Viable Product

By gswardman September 5, 2020

Most people go into business with great business ideas but quickly fail. Why is this? The answer is the lack of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a watered-down version of a new product that allows development teams to learn what they can about their customers’ needs or validated learning, using the least effort.

mvp life cycle

The term MVP originated with Frank Robinson and popularized by the Lean Startup author, Eric Ries and Steve Blank. In product development, the term Minimum viable product is the most overused, yet misunderstood term. In this article, we will see what exactly MVP is and how it translates into real life.

What Does a Minimum Viable Product do?

An MVP is an empirical test to gauge whether your hypothesis for the business idea and value proposition is valid. Once a minimum viable product is ready and you launch it to the potential customers, you can now draw some conclusions from the client's feedback and understand what they think about the product in the early stage before you go into full-fledged production.

The primary basis of the MVP idea is producing a new product such as a service or landing page, but which customers can use, and you can get feedback from them. Allowing future clients to use the product vis a vis asking them what they would do with a product is more reliable.

The beauty of using the MVP approach is that you get to understand what your clients want before developing the final product. This step in product management saves you time and resources so that you do not build a product customers do not want.

The MVP is the best learning tool that will validate your business model and clarify whether your product meets the customers’ needs, as well as build a user base. One of the best examples of MVPs is Spotify, Zappos, Dropbox, and Airbnb. There seems to be some confusion surrounding the Minimum viable product. How can startups use it to their advantage?

Key Attributes of a Minimum Viable Product

Some of the set of features you should consider when building your minimum viable product are:

  • An MVP is only an MVP if it sells. It must hold value with the users
  • MVP is not about the product, but the actual process
  • A minimum viable product is not one with minimum features, but it has to contain the maximum amount of core features that are enough to implement your idea and get some early adopters in the process.
  • MVP solely relies on the lean startup and agile methodology. The lean startup methodology includes customer development, which aims to learn the problem and that the solution will indeed solve the customer’s problem. It uses the iterative building process, which includes Building, Measuring, and Learning Loop. It continues to iterate until the final product meets the demands of the market.
  • The MVP methodology avoids the building of unnecessary products by allowing developers to gain market insight first.

MVP methodology

In essence, MVP needs to deliver the product idea in the simplest form possible. Depending on the context of the product, this simplest form can mean different things depending on your project. The form could be a software prototype or a demo video like the one Dropbox did. Some startups may use MVP as a landing page or experiment, while for others; you may have to build an MVP product, which functions fully.

The MVP concept assumes that the early adopters will recognize the final product proposition and buy the final product while giving you useful feedback on the product features that will further guide the development team in product improvement.

What is a Minimum Viable Product Example Used For?

Today, market trends in software development come and go in an instant. Your MVP puts your product to the test, exposing you to fewer financial and time wastage risks. Here are some of the benefits of using MVP examples:

  • You can test your product hypothesis using the least resources
  • You can easily avoid failure
  • An MVP helps you to tap into real-world and real-time market trends
  • The MVP allows you to interact with the potential customers and craft a final product based on the feedback
  • You can apply for crowd funding
  • An MVP reduces the number of wasted development hours.

Examples of MVPs

All minimum viable product examples include the two mentioned elements, namely minimum and viable. These two elements differ, depending on the product. In one instance, a sample video will work well, while with other products, you may have to develop a functioning mobile app or an MVP website.

Here are some of the most common MVP examples:

· Product Example as an MVP

The product design may be complex mockups or simple sketches. Here is a breakdown of each of these MVP examples in each category.

a) Sketches

A sketch is a freehand drawing of the system or using tools such as Proto.io or Balsamiq. A sketch portrays the web pages or main screens of the proposed product with their core workings. MVP examples in form of sketches can be used for highlighting the idea, presenting the project to potential investors, and applying for crowd funding.

product sketch example

b) Wireframes

Wireframes (User Experience-UX) define the pecking order in the design and represent the system outline or skeleton. The design and skeleton should be in line with the guidelines of the corresponding platforms such as Android, iOS, and Web. Wireframes as an MVP example show the system elements’ location, screen navigation, and new features.

mvp wireframe

If you are on a tight budget, the MVP route is highly recommended. You can do some tests on new features that might reshape certain current patterns with users such as swiping right or left to make certain decisions in apps.

c) Mockups

A User Interface (UI) mockup is a full-size and colorful portion of your product’s design that is complete and awaiting implementation. Like with the UX wireframes, these MVP product examples are used for promotion, fundraising, evaluation, and promotion. Make mockups clickable to enable customers to fully interact with the product.

product mockup example

· Demo Videos

A demo video is an excellent option for an MVP example. This is >asking potential customers how well the product resonates with their problems. One of the most well known examples in this MVP category is Dropbox’s demo video, which had customers asking for subscriptions even before the product was out. A video is a great way to pitch your idea to potential users and investors alike.

· MVP Landing Page

A landing page also called a destination, static, or lead capture page, is a page on a website designed for converting page visitors to leads. The landing page has a form that allows you to collect a visitor’s data in exchange for a certain offer. These lead capture pages are mostly used for marketing to the public about a potential product, gauge the public interest, and gather feedback to get followers and build a user base. It is usually much easier to win over a customer base that is already emotionally invested.

· Piecemeal MVP

The concept behind piecemeal minimum viable product examples is to ensure you make use of existing services as well as tools in your project. It collects all the parts and pieces them up to improve the user experience and alter the functionality.

· Concierge MVP

MVP examples help you in the selection of a target audience, as well as validating the usefulness of your service. This is known as a concierge MVP where you have to provide your services manually, rather than having a digital service. This approach helps you in the development of your client base and analysis of your target audience. Using this data, you can pivot your idea and change the MVP if need be.

· Wizard of Oz MVP

In the classic “The Wizard of Oz,” the wizard was an illusion and it is the same case with the Wizard of Oz MVP. These MVPs imply that your project might look functional from the outside and yet everything on the inside is manually operated. These are also known as Flintstone Minimum Viable Products or Manual-first MVPs

Zappos is one of the best Wizard of Oz MVP examples. The founder, Nick Swinmum intended to check if it was possible for people to buy shoes without trying them. He took a picture and posted it on the Internet, where people bought it. Currently, Zappos is worth billions and Amazon recently acquired it for over $800 million.

· Software Prototype MVP

Software prototyping is the process of creating software that is a partially complete version of the program-to-be. A software product prototype is the most common among all the MVPs because it is the first working product version that only has basic parts and core features. A prototype is ideal if you:

What Comes After Building an MVP?

Now that you have created an MVP with enough features, what comes next? The answer to this question is to test the MVP. Validating the business concept and checking if it meets the purpose of its creation and the startup requirements.

As mentioned above, gathering feedback is important so that you can check if the product can be scaled. If scaling is impossible, then you will know the product is not suited for a larger client base. You need to find a market for your final product so that it can move from being a minimum viable product to an MMP (Minimum Marketable Product).

Some MVP Testing Practices include:

· Asking for Feedback

Getting customer feedback is essential for the development process as it helps to understand your clients’ perception of your idea and to get a product/market fit. You can get feedback in two ways: alpha testing and feedback from real people

· Show your Product to Visitors

You can also test your MVP concept by showing it to people. This is done by adding a landing page to your site. Talk to your potential clients who are the real users of the product in a language they understand for them to know your type of product.

· A/B Testing

a/b testing

The biggest startup issue is that they tend to assume their created product is perfect for customers. When creating a value-adding product, but as a startup, you have to make people want to buy into the brand. This happens by testing of various layouts.

· Performance Marketing

When launching a product, you will need users to first test it so that you know if the product will take off. Performance marketing allows you to pay social media websites and search engines to entice users to test the products.

a) Crowd funding sites

Startups use sites such as Kickstarter to test their products. If you check the featured pages on such a website, you find huge crowds ready to buy yet to be released products. Crowd funding is using tiny amounts of capital from many different people for financing a startup.

Crowd funding utilizes the ability to access huge networks of people via crowdfunding websites and social media to bring entrepreneurs and investors together. Crowd funding creates an opportunity for startups to raise money from people who have money to spend and invest.

· Explainer Videos

As mentioned before in the case of Dropbox, explainer videos work well. Post the videos on your social media handles, crowd funding sites, and landing pages. This helps boost the testing process.

· Pre-ordering Pages

Pre-ordering products is an excellent idea for validating your minimum viable products. Set up a landing page on your website and insert an explainer video, and then promote the page via Google, LinkedIn or Facebook for instant feedback from the users. Pre-order pages are like crowd funding, but instead of telling the users to fund your minimum viable product, you are propositioning them to buy it.

Conclusion

We have learned in this article that minimum viable product testing is an essential part of the product launch. Nobody wants to spend time working on products that have no hope of ever being fruitful, and that no customer wants to buy. Try to use various MVP techniques to test if the Minimum Viable product fits the current market needs.

Whether your Minimum Viable Product is hardware or digital, you need to market it all the same using blogs and other social media platforms. Blogs are used in several ways such as letting future customers understand its inner workings, providing use cases, and promoting the product.