Here at Autonomous, our prospects often come to us with a product idea and a long wish list that’s exciting and shiny. Honestly, often it’s hard not to get swept away with their wave of enthusiasm. As exciting as new ideas are, we put on our tech consultant hat and guide the founder to build and test their product idea with the minimum effort required.
Enter MVP – Minimum Viable Product.
An MVP is the first client-facing version of a product. This version will meet the absolute minimum feature requirement of a product for it to feel complete for your target customer – minus the bells and whistles. The requirements that this MVP needs to meet are:
- It must deliver value
- Allow you to gather feedback
By building an MVP, the founders minimize risk through user-centric development, reduce costs and effort, and maximize return through rapid prototyping, market validation and gathering data that validates value delivery; or not.
Here are our lessons learned from building MVPs. This is a great starting point for would-be founders:
- Establish a Value Proposition
Don’t spend the next few months building something irrelevant. Make sure to put in brainstorming sessions and articulate it well on paper.
Ensure you identify your target market’s needs, and that your product is addressing the pain points. Know why your MVP is better than any current solutions on the market today.
- Identify Assumptions and Unknowns
Make a list of everything you know and don’t know. The main assumptions of the business need to be validated and the metrics set to measure these. The MVP should also allow you to get feedback to fill in the blanks. Your first design will confirm if your initial research is correct or not.
- Don’t Fall Down the Rabbit Hole
As soon as a product starts becoming tangible, everyone begins to get excited and new ideas start pouring in. You want to add new features and do more. STOP. Remember that less is more and perfection is the enemy of good. Get that first version out and set a time limit to launch.
- Let Your Baby Fly the Nest
Remember that the job doesn’t end once you have turned your idea into a reality. Continued conversations about what you can do to improve it will not give you the true picture of your product’s potential. You need users, and you need to market your product. This is necessary and the part where you truly figure out how to reach your target audience.
- Measure, Assess, and Adjust
Based on your findings and user feedback, make the necessary adjustments.
Or maybe all your assumptions were invalidated and you failed. That’s okay. This is where the MVP mindset comes into play- because you chose to limit your scope, you have the time and resources to try again.
Having an MVP mindset is truly crucial for this entire process.
“MVP is more than its definition. It’s more than a series of procedural steps. MVP is a mindset. It says, think big for the long term but small for the short term.” – Frank Robinson
To put it simply, when working on an MVP, in order to create a meaningful and fruitful experience for yourself and your clients, make sure that you set clear expectations, have a structured plan and predictability. Outline small actionable steps and test the accuracy of assumptions every step of the way. As long as you keep your user at the forefront of every decision you take, you should be able to launch a successful MVP.