In the world of business, MVP stands for a minimum viable product. It is a technique that was made popular by Eric Ries when he first described the term in his book ‘Lean Startup’. Eri Reis is looked up to as an authority when it comes to innovative methodologies for small businesses, and his book would provide great value to any entrepreneur.
Since Reis’s first description in 2011, thousands of businesses worldwide have made use of the MVP concept for product testing and market research campaigns and get a feel for how potential customers would respond to certain products. But in many cases, MVPs are still widely misused and misunderstood, which is a true pity as they have many benefits to offer business owners.
In this article, we’ll help you better understand the definition of an MVP and look at some of the expected benefits and common downfalls of MVPs.
What is the definition of an MVP?
A minimum viable product is the absolute earliest version of a certain product. An MVP offers just enough functionality and appeal that early adopters may be interested in MVP, but it is in no way the finished product. That being said, it should be emphasised that MVPs are not simply a concept on paper…they are fully functioning products. They are also not a beta version of your product that may be used to shake out any bugs.
Let’s break down the term ‘minimum viable product’ into the three words that it is made up of:
- Minimum- creating a version of your product with the smallest number of features but still valuable.
- Viable- Despite being a scaled-down version of the product, the product should still be fully functional and offer value to consumers.
- Product- a product that can be used today and is free from any bugs or deformities.
MVPs are used to gain feedback from potential customers and users and see how people respond and interact with your product. The purpose of an MVP is also to test the validity of the product as well as any hypothesis around the functionality of the product and how your target audience feels about the product.
MVPs assist product teams in making the right decisions surrounding a product and helps accelerate the process of coming up with the finalised end-product. As a result, MVPs minimise the risk of spending immense amounts of time and effort in developing a product only to find that nobody finds your product appealing in the slightest.
What are some of the main features of an MVP?
To understand what an MVP truly is and how an MVP works, you need to be aware of the key characteristics of an MVP, which include:
- Has the essence of the product idea- The MVP needs to have the essence of the end product idea at its core. While it can be stripped down of fancy features, the main purpose and functionality of the product should be clear as day.
- Low-cost- MVPs are designed to be low cost. There are many ways to minimise the costs of an MVP project so that these projects are accessible to business owners that have small market research budgets.
- Offer value- While the MVP is a scaled-back product, it should still offer some sort of value to those making use of it. If it is a useless, futile product that doesn’t solve any problems, there is no point in releasing it, and all of your feedback is bound to be negative.
- Be a starting point- MVPs are designed to be a starting point. You should have a clear vision of what could be expected after your MVP is launched and create a marketing plan to keep potential customers along for the ride as long as possible.
- Has a built-in feedback loop- One of the main characteristics is that it has a built-in feedback funnel, meaning that everyone who uses or even views your product will have to perform some sort of feedback on the MVP.
By ignoring some of the above key characteristics of an MVP, business owners often launch what they think is an MVP, more like a beta version of their product, or in some cases, just a product framework or a product framework or a product description.
What are some examples of MVPs?
To better understand MVPs, it’s a good idea to look at a few examples of MVPs that are commonly used by businesses. There are four main types of MVPs, and these include:
- Physical- while many MVPs take place in the digital realm, there are still physical MVPs that are used by product teams, and these can range from anything from appliances to toys. Crowdfunding sites are usually used to raise funds to create the MVP, with many of those who donated received a physical MVP to test and give feedback on.
- Digital- Digital MVPs are the most common, and it is not surprising considering the digital era in which we live. Digital MVPs can come in the form of landing pages, websites, and mobile apps. Lately, there have been many cryptocurrencies that have adopted MVPs for launching their crypto ideas. The MVP will be a digital, scaled-down version of the vision of the end product.
- Piecemeal MVPs- Piecemeal MVPs are rising in popularity, and this type of MVP takes two already existing products and creates a minimum viable product that combines the two to see how consumers will react to the innovation.
- Concierge- Concierge MVPs are usually digital products and services run manually at first for testing purposes. For example, a service that delivers plants where everything is done manually in the MVP stage can make tweaks to the automated end service.
What are some of the benefits of MVPs?
MVPs have blossomed in popularity over the past decade, and these MVPs have brought immense benefits and advantages to start-up owners around the world. Some of the main benefits that we see when it comes to MVPs include:
- Uses minimal resources- An MVP should use minimal resources to create. There should be one cohesive team working on it, and even if there is a lot of effort that goes into the creation of your MVP, it should not be a burden on your business’s resources. One of the main reasons why MVPs are so popular is because they are both cost-effective and time-effective.
- Helps in creating great end products- The fact of the matter, and the main benefit of MVPs is that they assist in creating truly great products. The feedback loop allows you to gain valuable insight into the market and allow you to make the tweaks that consumers really want to see, allowing you to create a fantastic end product.
- Can help avoid rejections- You may think that you have a million-dollar idea on your hands, but when released as an MVP, it is met with much rejection. Well, guess what…the MVP saved you loads of time, money and effort. As you know, you know that that idea is a flop, and you can go back to the drawing board, even if you have to drag your feet a little.
- Creates customer bonds- The customers and users that find your business in the MVP stage of your project may feel immense loyalty and pride towards you as you release your end product. An MVP may also help increase traffic to your site and help you experience a spike in your social following.
- Flexibility- An MVP allows you to be flexible with your end product. You don’t need to commit to any one idea or concept fully. You can take the time to see what works and even release multiple MVPs to create the clearest idea possible.
- Assists in early funding and interest- An MVP is the earliest introduction of your product. And if your marketing is done right, you could gain a lot of financial interest and consumer anticipation. This will up the ante for when your main product is released, and your main product is likely to be met with more excitement than if you didn’t release an MVP.
What are some of the common downfalls of MVPs?
Unfortunately, those experimenting with MVPs, often for the first time, do regularly experience some of the downfalls associated with MVPs. These common pitfalls include:
- Not understanding MVPs- Many business owners do not fully understand the concept of an MVP, and this is the root of the majority of the other problems on this list. Announcing an MVP and then releasing something that is not, in fact, an MVP will also make you seem unprofessional in the eyes of other business owners and even consumers.
- Not giving MVPs enough appeal and functionality- Even though an MVP is the ‘bare bones’ of your end product, it should still be highly appealing and 100% functional. If it is not, you won’t gain any interest from potential customers and users.
- Not making the most out of feedback and concerns- Without creating an efficient feedback loop, you won’t properly access the feedback necessary to improving the MVP to make it a workable end product. Ensure that you have the facilities to properly process the feedback.
- Spending too much- Many business owners get caught up in the excitement of releasing an MVP and end up making their products too complicated, thus spending too much money. This will affect the budget for the end product, which is in fact the most important aspect.
- Giving competitors insight into your ideas- By releasing your MVP, you give your competitors a direct insight into what you are planning for the future and the type of ideas that your team has. This early introduction could be used against you by your competitors, who may have the resources to develop a similar end product faster than you. Ensure that you protect your ideas legally before releasing them to the world.
Luckily, with enough research, and a structured plan in place, most of the downfalls can be easily avoided.
When creating an MVP, it is important to have certain steps that you can follow to get the most out of your minimum viable product experience and stick to your timeframe. A typical MVP timeline looks like this:
- Defining the problem you wish to solve- before modelling your MVP, you’ll need to look at your end-product as a whole and decide whether it is valuable and worth gaining market insight on.
- Minimising your product- It is not time to come up with all of the cool and intricate features that your product has to offer. Now you need to get down to the bare bones of your product so that you can come up with an MVP that is still functional and valuable.
- Decide how you are going to present your MVP- How will your MVP be presented? In which way will it be best received and most true to the product? In an app? A website? A physical
- Implementation- When implementing your MVP, ensure there is a form where you can collect user data and request feedback.
- Look at feedback- The feedback you get on your MVP is incredibly important. So take the time to analyse this data properly.
- Make tweaks- From the feedback and response data, you should know if your product is worth investing in or not and what tweaks will need to be made to optimise your product’s functionality and appeal.
Every MVP is unique and may require a slightly different timeline in order for you to get the very most out of your MVP. If you are struggling with any of the steps in the process, you may want to get guidance from a professional production team that deals with MVPs regularly.