8 Facts about Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and why you need one
Creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is essential for founders who are looking into getting their product into the hands of users as soon as possible.
As a founder, launching your product is an incredibly exciting time. But it can also be daunting; you want to make sure everything is perfect before it hits the market. However, this could mean waiting forever to launch or missing out on key opportunities that come with getting your product out there quickly.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what an MVP is and why it’s important for founders to launch with one instead of waiting for perfection.
What is MVP in a Startup?
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a version of your product or service that you release to the public with just the minimum features necessary for it to have value.
But the MVP concept is not just for technology startups. It can be used for launching all kinds of businesses such as consultancies, service firms, and small businesses.
This basic version allows customers to get a general idea of what your product is and gives them an opportunity to provide feedback. Having this type of feedback from early users can be invaluable to founders. It helps them identify areas for improvement and see what features are most important for their target market.
What are Examples of MVPs?
Some well-known examples of MVPs include Airbnb and Zappos. These two companies started out with the basic versions of their platforms before and then slowly adding more features as they grew in popularity.
Airbnb began by offering an online platform for people to list their spare rooms or homes for rent. They initially only offered a basic website and relied on word of mouth to spread the news about their service.
Zappos, on the other hand, began by selling shoes online with simple descriptions of shoes that were selling in stores at the mall. When someone bought them on Zappos, the founders went to the mall and purchased the shoes to send them to the customers! This allowed them to test the concept of selling shoes online without investing a lot of money into product photography or advertising.
MVPs for Non-Technical Businesses
For non-tech business, MVPs can be many things. For example, one client of mine began his business as a solo architect who contracted with builders. He knew that he wanted to build a business that he could scale. He also knew that quitting his 9-5 architectural job would allow him to get started working on his vision and that it would take time for the business to evolve into what he wanted it to be.
Even though his first two years didn’t look like much more than being an independent architect, he was actually spending that time learning about what his clients really wanted while he was business planning. In year 3 he began hiring employees. By year 5, he had a scalable multi-disciplinarian consulting and advisory group that was backed by venture capital.
Why is an MVP Important for Founders?
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is essential for startups since it allows founders to get their products or services out there quickly and begin collecting feedback from (often) paying users. Some founders launch with a free MVP.
In the software world, companies often launch with their freemium offer first. A freemium strategy is when you offer a free version of your product. This product may have limited features but it also allows people to upgrade to the full version with more features.
MVPs Let You Pivot
Having an MVP allows entrepreneurs to easily pivot if they find that their initial idea isn’t resonating with customers. By iterating quickly and efficiently, founders like you are able to adjust their strategies based on user feedback rather than wasting time developing features that won’t sell.
Creating an MVP isn’t Always Easy
There are many benefits and nothing’s easy when you’re building a startup
You may be afraid to launch your product without all of its bells and whistles. It can be harder to pare down than to keep adding because it takes more discipline.
You will also get lots of advice from well-meaning people telling you that you need this or that. As a founder, this is YOUR business and you get to build it how you want it so you must learn to ignore advice that doesn’t make sense to you and to your vision.
I know a would-be founder who has lots of ideas. She tries to launch them, but then she gets stuck. For example, her latest idea was to create a specific functional fashion products.
This time, she got as far as hiring a designer to make a prototype. But when the designer asked if there was a logo for the product, she got totally derailed. Then she went down a 3-week rabbit hole of trying to select a logo and became so overwhelmed that she never chose a logo.
Worse, she hasn’t gotten her prototype. She would have been much closer to achieving her vision had she simply replied, “There is no logo, please proceed without one,” and considered her first product to be her MVP instead of trying to make things perfect.
Leave Non-Essential Details Out of Your MVP
One of my clients has had leaps and bounds of progress in her consultancy business. When we were talking today, she mentioned that she didn’t have all of the legal documents that she probably should have had when she started her business.
I believe that is part of why she’s successful today and positioned to scale from a one-woman business to a massive ed-tech startup this year. I’m not a lawyer and not giving legal advice but one thing I know is that there will be risks in your entrepreneurial path.
You can spend thousands of dollars setting up your LLC, operating agreements, terms, and conditions, etc. However, if you never start, then you have a 100% chance of failure. When I started my first company, we got hold of a competitor’s client contract. We copied it and changed the names and minor details. Six years later sold the business to a public company for $28 million.
Your MVP will Likely be Unscalable and That’s OK
In startups, scaling means that you can replicate your business model with minimal effort and expense so you can grow the company quickly. You may not be able to scale your MVP in this sense since it’s designed to just test one concept or product before scaling up.
Sometimes the right thing is to “do things that don’t scale” (Paul Graham). This means that you first may need to do things manually and not worry about scalability. For example, if your MVP is an e-commerce store, it’s OK for the founder to pick, pack, and ship orders themselves until they can hire someone else or outsource this task.
Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a way to test the waters before investing too much in a product that users don’t want. It’s important that you do not get too caught up in details at this stage and instead focus on building something quickly so you can start learning from your customers as soon as possible.
Pivoting isn’t always easy but it’s essential when testing out new products and concepts with entrepreneurs. So remember: fail fast, pivot often, and scale when the time is right. Good luck!
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