It is crucial for the owners of today’s start-ups to be familiar with the concept of Minimum Viable Products or MVPs. An MVP allows start-ups to test different pieces of its product incrementally before building a final design. It is a strategy that speeds up the process of testing a product or product feature in a particular market.
The questions that most start-ups are faced with when thinking about MVPs are, “What are they going to test?” “Why are they going to test it?” and “When are they going to test it?” Answering these questions correctly will allow for a strong and affective approach to a final product launch using an MVP.
A successful MVP approach gets some form of product into the hands of customers, which can in turn provide validation and feedback to the company. From there, steady and incremental improvements based on that feedback lead to a final product.
At the very beginning of a company, entrepreneurs must determine if the need that they are solving with their product is actually shared by other people. This can be achieved by running tests such as a website that asks users if they share the same problem, or conducting one-on-one interviews with potential consumers. The next step in the process is to try and understand whether the product they are creating solves that problem. In other words, “If we build X product or website, would people use it and pay for it?” This is what the MVP helps to answer at a very early stage.
One of the hardest obstacles that entrepreneurs encounter, particularly those who are technical-minded, is getting over that nagging feeling that the MVP has to be a bug free and complete product. It is actually the opposite, an MVP is not a product, but rather a tool used to elicit responses from consumers. MVPs are used to run experiments. They are meant to test a series of hypothesis. For example, “If I show this product to a group of 100 people what would happen?” If the hypothesis is that 50% of the people would buy it, but it turns out that 0 people do, it is not a failed experiment. It is actually a very successful test, as it saved the developer months of work and investment.
Entrepreneurs must understand that MVPs have no connections at all with a finished product. Believing that is a great mistake. It would be convenient if MVPs dragged a product incrementally to its final form, but taking left and right turns at inexpensive costs is equally good if not a better approach.
Advantage of MVP Approach
MVPs allow young companies to minimize developing costs and maximize learning funds. It also builds customer fans in the market, and allows entrepreneurs to quickly learn from their mistakes.
The MVP approach is often a cheaper option in terms of design and manufacturing costs, because a team doesn’t have to develop extra functionalities that may end up being unnecessary in the end. These costs saving are crucial for the early stages of a start-up, as they don’t know how customers will react to their products and what features might need to be added in the future.
Using the MVP approach allows a company to be more efficient by allowing them to use the least amount of features to solve the end-user problem. This translates into less support staff, fewer moving parts, and less code being written be developers.
Disadvantages of MVP Approach
On the other hand, MVPs require a lot of upfront work in order to get reliable customer feedback. It might require development efforts for various product releases, which demand revisions based on feedback.
In conclusion, the MVP approach takes more upfront work, but it greatly reduces potential risks down the road, which can result in high costs and wasted efforts.