what is a minimal viable product

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? Explained.


Want to start your own startup, but stuck on how to get things done? or where to start? Someone suggested, why not build an MVP! But hey, what does MVP stand for in startups, well it stands for Minimum Viable Product. Okay, and what is a Minimum Viable Product? No worries, here’s all you need to understand MVP or Minimum Viable Product.

What is MVP and How you can Benefit from it

Frank Robinson was the guy who coined the term MVP and it was further popularized by Eric Ries and Steve Blank. A well-known definition can be stated as,

“…a MVP(or Minimum Viable Product) is a product which consists of just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future development…”

So, if we analyze the definition, we get to understand the three major components of it,

1. An MVP Provides ‘Just Enough’ Features to Users

For the discussion, if we assume that you want to create a product, then, — a list of features would be there which your product offers. In MVP phase, you have to decide on what are the most important features, the order to build them and when is the ideal time to release the product. Here, the idea is to focus on the necessary features and release a demo version of the product, faster. But how would you prioritize on what needs to be there? And how many top prioritized features are enough to deliver value to your early customers?

Here’s the answer. The criteria for ranking your features should be the following,

  1. Value for the Users
  2. Feasibility

You must identify the best subset of features from the complete list, which is expected to deliver the most value to your target audience. Also, the subset of features is the one which is also feasible for your team to build, launch and operate.

Identify the red line. Which feature completes your MVP. After this line, you would be needed to think as both, as a user and also as an entrepreneur. You must mix your business and product sense to find out the minimum set of top-ranked features which are ‘enough’ to solve the problem for your target customers.

mvp minimum viable product

2. MVP Should ‘Satisfies Early Customers’

The first instance which you build of your product must serve the purpose for your consumers, i.e., they must deliver value to them. A usable and effective MVP Minimum Viable Product keeps the users engaged and helps you get the potential pay for it.

Always keep in mind, your early customers should happy with your product. And this happiness should be such that they become your promoters — by recommending it to others.

Your early customers should be so happy with your product to act as promoters — to recommend it to others and publicly share their satisfaction (if not excitement).

3. An MVP Viable Product Enables ‘Feedback for Future Development’

As an entrepreneur or product manager, one should understand the criticality of what users desire and potentially reflect it in the product development strategy. There is always a need to identify right mechanisms and processes to capture the desired level of user engagement and measure the response of product in terms of various metrics — channel usage, platform dependency, and market compatibility.

MVPs act the most reliable form of showcasing a product. One may use various telemetry systems and a mix of analysis tools in order to get appropriate feedback from the users. An in-depth specialized product report along with various KPIs in the right context help in quick decision making and faster mobility of the product. There are various other ways as well to accumulate feedback,

  1. One way is by collective additional qualitative feedback, where you could ask your focus groups to evaluate UX (user experience) of your MVP, host interviews, conduct design sprints, etc. The qualitative data would help you to understand in which manner are you delivering value to your consumers, is it the appropriate one, if not, how could you improve it.
  2. You may employ a customer satisfaction mechanism like NPS, or Net Promoter Score. It uses a way to capture user satisfaction in a standardized way to help you gain clarity over product usage.

Making use of any of the following method would eventually help you define a product performance measurement framework, providing you with the insights required to make better & informed decisions towards your product lifecycle.

what does mvp stand for

Common Misconceptions about MVPs

Though the idea of an MVP seems quite feasible and simple in its nature, it is not generally employed in the right way. For example, MVP is at times correlated with quick implementation, an overnight draft preparation, a basic prototype or something to just ‘start with’.

For both ‘Proof of Concept’ and Prototype building, an MVP carries a higher production readiness as it is exposed to real customers.

…MVP is the first instance of a real product; it’s the beginning of the lifecycle of your final ‘desired’ product; the basis for future iterations…

Characteristics of a Good MVP

While there is a lot of debate one can make over good characteristics of an MVP, here’s a list of what really matters.

  • Reflect validated user needs
  • User-centric designs
  • They solve real problems for the end user
  • Provide a seamless working mechanism to measure user engagement and capture user feedback
  • Quantifies the overall product performance
  • Delivers end user a form of ‘value

Characteristics of a Poorly Defined (or Built) MVP

And the list goes like,

  • Carries an overcomplicated design scheme
  • Are not really ‘minimum’ by any perspective of their feature usage
  • Generally, are disconnected from the market
  • Are over-engineered or not engineered at all 🙂
  • Don’t really reflect the real user needs

How Could the MVP Approach Benefit your Business

Think of an MVP as a framework to which helps you define your product and build a better one through passing iterations. Through it, you could move towards a great product faster and cheaper, when you adapt to the Minimum viable product approach, you would benefit at various different levels in many forms. A few to mention are,

1. The BIG Thinking Mindset

A clear and solid vision is the heart of your product. The ‘agile’ way toward developing a product empowers you to think big — create backlogs which define a ‘complete product’ even with the so resisted expensive and ‘crazy’ features. They can all be captured and at the right time, could be developed as an offering in the product. The only rule you must remember should be to capture everything, & then prioritize it wisely.

mvp viable product

2. Building Less is Enough ‘at times’

In the defining process of your MVP, you’ll be able to build your product with less: as its all about identifying the must-have features and developing them first, to keep early customers engaged and happy. This way your smaller first-instance of the product would be solving the core of the primary problem for the users.

Also, the process would help you minimize your cost of development and operations, deprioritizing the less important features for future cycles. A defined MVP will save you money and time.

3. Connect with The Customers

The ability to capture user feedback at an early stage (and frequently) is a success factor in itself. This way you could identify the streams of feedback which could benefit you in the product development cycle.

For eg, a well-planned MVP would capture all user interactions & append the data into a historical user interaction database (make sure its complaint to GDPR and related regulatory constraints). Further, using a data analysis & reporting tool could help you discover interesting patterns and identify their interests within your product. If executed right, these insights would help you gain clarity over assumptions you made on product design and further, indicate different opportunities for the product.

4. Reach Market Faster

With an MVP, you’ll be possessing the opportunity to go to market faster. And by using the same agile development pattern, you’ll be able to release features more frequently and retain the power to pivot at any required instance. Be sure to identify different opportunities and feedback signals before you plan a pivot in the market.

5. Pivots are Good!

Use insights and performance data to your benefit by adjusting prioritizing your product roadmap. This way, you could discover the signals which could help in a potential pivot (a major shift in product strategy or in its way of solving the problem for users)

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