If you asked anyone on the street to spell out the acronym MVP, you’re going to get “most valuable player” almost every time. However, those who happen to be entrepreneurs or owners of promising startups might answer “minimum viable products.”
What do entrepreneurs think of when they say MVP? What is it and why has it become necessary today?
The Common Misconception
Before we delve deeper into the world of MVPs, let’s first look at what it isn’t. Many entrepreneurs and startup owners are convinced that they need a finished product, production facilities, marketing campaigns, supply chains, and so on, to get their project off the ground and start marketing their product.
That might have been the only way some thirty years ago when the market and technology were more conservative and far less agile than it is today. This is not to say that the concept is flawed. It’s a sign of the times that many startups and entrepreneurs swear to.
What Is an MVP?
An MVP, or minimum viable product, is a product that has just enough functionality and features to be marketable. Most commonly, a product in this phase is marketed to early adopters and the main purpose is to test the water to see if it’s viable or not.
A product in the MVP phase should only have the core features and functionalities. That means that you don’t even have to have the full product. In fact, you should purposely omit all the non-essentials and focus on the main features so you can validate your idea. But what good is an unfinished product?
Why Do You Need It?
First, it’s an opportunity for you to get early feedback on the product. With that, you’ll be able to change any features or properties and improve on them through each subsequent iteration. You will also discover any unnecessary features or potential design and concept flaws.
Through it all, you will get a much clearer picture of whether your product is viable. It is far easier and less costly to scrap a project and pivot in the MVP phase than to develop a full product only to see it sink like the Titanic.
Other benefits include faster learning, a significant reduction in wasted labor hours, discovery of the builder’s abilities, and accelerated brand building. You could also use your MVP to create a base for other products.
How to Make Your MVP?
There are many approaches to building an MVP, though the following 3-step process is the most popular.
- Make a product that solves a problem.
- Keep making new iterations that each incorporates solutions to bigger problems.
- Communicate along the way your grand vision or master plan clearly and with confidence.
Let’s take a closer look at each step.
There are three goals that you need to achieve in the first step. To begin with, you should define your vision and your product’s ultimate scope, mission, and the big problem it’s looking to solve.
After that, you should determine how your first iteration, i.e. your MVP, should look like and the core features that it must have.
Finally, it’s time to build your MVP. If you’re building a web application, for example, you can create a demo version with all the core features. A no code platform, like Bubble.io, which is our MVP platform of choice at mvp.dev, is perfect for building out your MVP quickly and economically. Make sure to do away with everything that is not necessary and could be added later. If you’re strapped for funds, you can make a video presentation that explains what the final product would look like and the problem solved.
At the end of this step, you should know if your product has a future.
With the MVP in hand, you can move onto the next iteration. Present your product to a group of early adopters and take in their feedback. If necessary, alter and improve the initial core features and keep working on adding new features.
Make sure that the new features solve bigger problems without compromising the integrity of the existing features. Gauge the performance of the subsequent iterations and don’t be afraid to experiment. Keep repeating this step until you’ve completed the project and delivered the finished product.
Put your grand idea out there and repeat it as many times as necessary. If you lose sight of your main goal, your potential clients and customers will lose interest in your product and move on.
With a clear vision, your startup will be able to hurdle larger obstacles and solve bigger problems. Also, you will be able to garner more support and funds as well.
Even though it is a relatively new concept, the MVP approach to new product introductions has already given the world several amazing products. Here are some of the best-known examples.
Foursquare started out with only one feature – the ability to check in. Over time, as interest in the app grew, the team added new features such as city guides, recommendations, and others.
The founders of Airbnb also started small. In fact, they validated the product with their very own apartment. Years later, the platform grew to become synonymous with homestay.
Elon Musk creates all Tesla vehicles through the MVP process. He starts out with a simple prototype and a master plan. Each vehicle then goes through dozens of iterations before it takes on its final form. Musk is the master of the three-step MVP process, which had a hand in transforming Tesla vehicles from unwieldy electric toasters on wheels into some of the finest cars on the road.
What’s Your MVP?
Enterprising startups don’t need boatloads of money to realize great ideas. You can take a bold new approach and start building minimum viable products, just like Tesla, Foursquare, Airbnb, and a few other big-names, and come up with the next game-changer or household name.