Minimum Viable Product - Quick Way to Test Your Business Idea

Sergii Karpiak, CEO / Full Stack Developer at Bitcom Systems on 2019-07-01

We all want to push our products into the market faster when our competitors do with their similar ones. But what if nobody will buy the stuff we’ve invested thousands of dollars and years of hard work? How can we know for sure? We all surely remember some unsuccessful products.

A minimum viable product is just one type of the lean startup approach, which basically includes business model design, customer development and agile engineering. Business model design means a market research. In other words, it defines the problem, which your product solves, and actually, a process of creating the core of your MVP. Customer development is building of a sufficient channel to reach out your first customers. And agile engineering is a process of collecting the feedback from the people, who have already used your product or service and fixing issues, if any. In general, it can be described as a “build-measure-learn” process. Such lean startup means much less wasted money and resources in case things are not going as planned.

Generally, the minimum viable product is a version of a new product that allows the developing company or startupper to collect the maximum possible amount of true and accurate information about customers with the least possible costs and effort. As a result, you get the following benefits:

  • first results in a few months instead of years
  • increasing efficiency of learning the customer’s’ reaction
  • bringing the product to early customers
  • establishing the foundation for other and derivative products
  • getting customer’s feedback
  • measuring usage metrics
  • minimizing the risks of creating products that nobody wants
  • saving money and time

The most famous examples of products having started with an MVP are:

Uber, Snapchat, Foursquare, Dropbox, AdWords Express, Amazon, Buffer, Instagram, Facebook, Airbnb.

Starting with MVP

Before creating the MVP we should answer the questions:

  1. Who are our potential customers?
  2. What problem does our product solve?
  3. What does our product offer (money, time, emotions)?
  4. When can we deliver it to our potential customers?
  5. What is the core of our product?
  6. What determines our future success and failure?

After answering these questions we can start building our MVP. The first step is to learn the market needs. It is important to know what your competitors already offer and to make your own product unique. It is very useful to analyze feedback about your competitor’s products in order to avoid the problems they may have encountered.

The next step is to determine the value proposition of your product: the problem your product or service solves. Next, consider the design process and user flow, look at your application from the user’s perspective. Here you should concentrate only on basic tasks of your product, not on additional features. Then just build your MVP with your team.

Choosing a Suitable MVP Type

There are different types of MVPs, which differ in goals, content, and used tools.

The first one is a Piecemeal MVP. It is a very cheap way to test your future product or service investing a minimum of your money. Piecemeal MVP means that you use tools and solutions, which already exist and you just put together different components from multiple sources. For instance, you emulate the steps people are supposed to do.

Explainer video is a short video, where you explain how to use your product or service, what features it has, and why your potential customers should buy it. The most popular example is Dropbox. In their 3-minute video, the company explained how their product works, and now it’s one of the most popular applications.

The next one is a product imitation MVP. It includes Concierge and Wizard of Oz MVPs. Concierge means that you’d have to carry out all functions of your product individually. You have to work with the customers one-to-one solving their problems. And after increasing demand you can automate the processes.

Wizard of Oz looks like the end product, but it isn’t. Actually, all of the functionality is carried out by humans. But the customers think that they are using a finished product.

‘Sell it, before you build’ is a method, when you pre-sell your product to potential customers and then build it on the money you get. High-profile marketing is crucial in this case.

The next one is landing page. You just need to create a web page, where you tell the people about your product or service and its advantages, and then, assess the percent of visitors, sign-ups and get feedback.

Finally, a single-feature MVP. This type offers the main function of your product or service. For example, to start using Uber you must provide your location, tell your end point and pay money. This is the core of the application. Additional features, such as a photo of the car or information about the driver are not a part of the MPV.

Selecting the Core Features

Sometimes, it is very difficult to determine the core of the MVP. The popular MVP approach presumes that the new product should only have its main functionality in the beginning – a basic set of features, released in order to test a new business idea and receive feedback from potential customers. In general, MVP is an initial product with simplified functionality.

When you come up with the MVP, don’t focus on small imperfections, missing images or animations or less relevant use cases. It shouldn’t have crashes and bugs, though. MVP should not disappoint customers.

Team and Terms

How to build an effective MVP team? Obviously, the team depends on the nature of product and its size. We can create a simple MVP with one or two developers. But, typically, it must include people skilled in different types of development and software engineering:

  • Frontend and backend developers
  • Visual, Interaction, UX and Product designers
  • Business analyst
  • DevOps
  • Scrum master

It is very important to choose people who have already worked together in the past. It helps to accelerate the process of creating the MVP. Moreover, your team should include people with different levels of seniority. It is good when the team has balanced hard and soft skills.

The aim of the team is to quickly create a high quality MVP. It often takes at least three months to get ready with the first version. But not every MVP can be built at this speed. Some innovations are much more technically difficult and require years of a full-time team of engineers to build an MVP.

The result of MVP is a product or service which your potential target audience can use.

After the public release you will want to monitor the analytics on the number of downloads and launch rates, percentage of active users, client lifetime value, the level of people who have uninstalled your application and don’t want to use it anymore. Besides, after you receive the feedback on your product, you may decide whether to develop the full version of application or just stop. Then, you may develop your MVP into the minimum marketable product (MMP), which you can start selling.

Conclusion

MVP is undoubtedly a great way to test your business hypothesis. Its main advantages are good control over the budget and accelerated feedback from the target audience. When considering to build an MVP, make sure that you invest your time in researching the need for your startup, then carefully select the core of your idea and implement it with the right team.

Our team at Bitcom Systems will back you up with the development resources, while you can focus on your business vision.