In today’s competitive environment, it’s a process to take an idea from inception through gestation and, eventually, to realization. The bar is set higher for startups that don’t have a solid concept which can stand up to scrutiny. This means it’s also more important than ever to make sure you’re working with something unassailable.
The odds are that many other startups have already released a minimum viable product (MVP) that solves the same problem as your product. In addition to the increased pressure from competition is the obvious requirement of a technical team. But is this so obvious? Consider for a second that the technical barriers to making your MVP could be removed; what would you do with the resources that free up? It’s not so difficult to imagine.
Starting at the Beginning
The road to any successful MVP starts with a solid understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish with your product and clearly defining its purpose. In a sense, any product is the sum of its features, but those shouldn’t take center stage just yet. Before you even get to the features, make sure you’re serving a real need.
There are a lot of things that people want, but don’t need. Those don’t make good building blocks for a startup. You want to zero in on actual needs — A Rolls-Royce has a lot of great features, but it still serves the same fundamental need as a Toyota. Once it’s clear which need is being served, it’s easy to decide which features to prioritize and which need to take a back seat.
Every need is caused by conflict, a discrepancy between a user’s reality and their desired outcome. This discrepancy, or problem, is the conceptual home of your MVP. It’s important to note that every potential user will have slightly different problems. The way to get the most out of an MVP is finding the right balance between problems solved and features offered. The more problems a feature solves, the higher it is in priority.
Your goal should be to start learning about your product as fast as possible, as it’s important to validate if your product has any potential. You can do that by allowing users to test it. Seeing how they use your product offers more insight than asking them how they would use it. Remember, user feedback is the lifeblood of any good startup.
The Next Steps
To take a product through its lifecycle, validation should start as soon as reasonably possible. The biggest hurdle for meaningful validation data is having the right hallmarks of your final product represented in your MVP. And, one of the biggest hurdles for that perfect MVP is often the engineering infrastructure. If you don’t have easy access to a coding team, you’re faced with a serious allocation problem.
You can think of this as a seek bar. On one end you have the resources at your disposal; on the other end are the features that your MVP needs. This need is the one that Bubble.is has endeavored to solve for the thousands of startups struggling with that seek bar.
The driving force behind successful startups is not great coding; it’s innovation. To that end, Bubble.is allows you to build an end-to-end product without writing a single line of code or the need for deploying a team of engineers. With Bubble, your MVP could easily be ready to validate within days or weeks with a development team of one.
No-coding platforms are a godsend for startups, allowing most of the resources to be allocated towards features and validation of the MVP. The power that this places in the hands of startups also has a democratizing effect — allowing the best ideas to thrive rather than the best-funded ones.
Is It Worth the Investment?
Once the needs are established, problems are addressed, and you’ve got a valid MVP, it’s time to launch validation techniques. Many validation techniques become appropriate because the development time of a no-code MVP is short. For instance, a prototype MVP approach — where the working prototype is given to select prospects — is entirely viable. A landing page/survey approach can also work.
Many validation techniques require virtually no coding in practice but are, understandably, less effective than having a fully-built MVP. The aforementioned landing page can serve as a barometer even without a MVP. Chatbots and social media groups can also work well.
Crowdfunding is another great route for product validation. Most crowdfunding sites don’t require a finalized version of the product to start a campaign. This makes them great no-code validation platforms, but they carry a somewhat larger responsibility. When using crowdfunding, the closer a product is to being usable when the campaign starts, the better the engagement it will generate. Having a minimal coding platform makes that easier to do and iterate as the campaign progresses.
It’s also a good idea to start by looking at competitors. Finding similar products and researching their companies. There are many databases that will provide information, especially for larger companies, that can be valuable when validating your MVP. A similar product that accrued massive funding, for example, is a strong validation point. The number of downloads of similar products can also serve as a validation technique.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
It’s crucial to choose several validation techniques because each will validate the product in a specific set of circumstances. Failing to meet validation criteria in one of them doesn’t doom your product, it’s just one small way of acquiring users.
Somewhere along the line, you’ll have to start thinking more broadly about the business plan and how to monetize your product, but your goal with the MVP is to prove that an idea has a reason to exist. Keep in mind that the goal is to make the earliest testable version of a product which can generate useful feedback for the next iteration. Unequivocally, the best way to do that is to use a no-code platform.
If you’re interested in launching your MVP, learn how we can help you get from idea to launch.