MVP & Why It’s Important

May 17, 2018

So you have marketed your product successfully, and are now looking to start developing your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). What exactly is an MVP? And why is it important to start with?

An MVP is the most basic form of a product. The basic idea is this - instead of spending time, money, and resources developing a product that no one wants, start by building a very basic version of it and release it to market quickly to start testing, collecting feedback, and iterating.

Cars Started Out as MVPs

When cars were first being designed and built, no one was concerned with fitting them with luxurious interiors or making them run as efficiently as possible. The focus was on building suitable engines and other core components that would allow cars to run safely and give drivers full control. Only after getting the basics right and proving demand for cars did extra, nice-to-have features, get any attention.

While this might seem like a very obvious approach, many entrepreneurs fail to apply the same logic when building digital products. I think it has to do with the fact that adding digital features like map integration, filters, and enabling comments is relatively easy. What teams building digital products fail to understand however is that building all these features, testing them out, educating users on how to use them, and maintaining them needs a lot of time and resources and is bound to spread the founders too thin.

So how would an MVP look like in the digital world?

Facebook

Facebook started as an online directory for Harvard students. Its goal was to connect students and give them the ability to search and know more about one another. Note how it didn’t start with current features like chat, photo sharing, and ability to write on friends’ walls. Neither was it first released in 120 different countries. It started as an online directory for Harvard students. Only after proving that it worked at Harvard in its most basic form did the team start expanding to other universities and adding features.

Facebook grew to more than a million users in less than a year. This is another important characteristic of a successful MVP: it is a high quality product that is built to scale. What started out as an online directory for Harvard is now the biggest social network in the world with over 2.2 Billion active users.

Conclusion

  • MVP is the most basic form of your product. It’s main objective is to test the market and allow you to collect feedback and start iterating.
  • Don’t mistake basic for low quality. An MVP is not a sloppy product. It does 1 thing very well.
  • It is very tempting to build everything at once. Fight the temptation.
  • Build your MVP and operations to scale. Ask yourself “What happens if I get 5,000 users tomorrow?” Build with that in mind.

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