How do you imagine launching a startup? Most likely, one sunny day, a light bulb lights up in your head — here it is, a million-dollar idea! You hurriedly assemble a team of enthusiasts who understand you at a glance. They create it painstakingly with taste and high quality — that’s candy right away! You offer it to users, they are delighted. Visualized? Well, that doesn’t happen. Or happens, but with a tiny probability. Because you can hardly know what your users will like, and in the pursuit of quality and a lot of functions, the most crucial thing will be forgotten — whether anyone other than you needs this invention at all. That’s why MVP is here.
What is Minimal Viable Product
Minimal Viable Product is software with limited functionality that people can use and have an opinion on this matter. There might not be any design, all the functions, but the invention can already be used.
It’s needed to test a hypothesis, check users’ needs. It is a complex process but no more complicated than creating a full-fledged product. It takes place in 8 stages:
1. Identification of the problem
Any invention solves a certain kind of problem, no matter what. Therefore, answer the question “why” and “what for ” before making any effort in the launching or software development.
2. Target audience
The problem has been identified; now, it’s time to understand precisely how many people have a problem and how badly they need its solution. If you don’t recognize customers and skip this stage, consider that the startup will not take off.
3. Competitor analysis
Most likely, your idea already has an analog with customers. Find out what competitors have shifted their focus to, distinctive features, what they are good at, and where they did a lousy job. Read the reviews, look at their competitiveness — to take the best from them and correct mistakes.
4. SWOT analysis
What is a Minimal Viable Product or business idea without SWOT? Nothing. Reminder: it’s a description of the concept’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and risks.
5. User Path Map
If you don’t know what to do with the software, no user will ever guess. Describe in detail what the users should do and how they will interact with it.
6. List of functions
It will be fantastic if you combine this list with the user experience from stage 5. It is also a good idea to divide the functions into the main and secondary ones: this way, it will be clear what should be done first. Usually, the Minimal Viable Product doesn’t have only 2-3 of the functions.
7. Management model
Without proper management, no good idea will see the light of day. Maybe you like Lean management or extreme programming — choose what works best and suits the project.
8. Testing (finally!)
Beta or alpha development, whichever is more convenient. The help of a focus group can come in handy too. It is a crucial stage, but you will be lucky in any case — if you are fortunate, then you just need to develop a ready-made idea and concept. If you fail, you haven’t spent a lot of time and money, and you can refine the picture or change it several more times until success.
It’s essential to go through all the stages of creating an MVP: the whole system will collapse if you miss something.
Who needs an MVP and why
Your startup is a hypothesis. And hypotheses are constantly being tested; an idea can be excellent, beautiful, and valuable only in the creator’s head. Therefore, it is vitally essential for everyone who launches new projects and startups to create an MVP.
How are hypotheses tested? They are formulated, define criteria for assessing viability, create an analog, measure indicators, and conclude. The same goes for software development or launching.
It’s necessary to create an MVP to:
save your money;
test the audience’s needs;
determine the path of the idea’s development;
find early adopters and users.
The most exciting thing about MVP is the first users’ feedback. The study confirms this: 42% of startups failed because they did not meet market demand and customer expectations. Therefore, it is worth getting it as soon as possible.
Difference between PoC, MVP, and the product
The Minimal Viable Product is an unfinished software that can already work. Very often, it is referred to as a PoC, but this is not entirely true. So, what does PoC mean?
PoC (Proof of Concept) — this is a description of the vital processes for a software, from which the minimum viable product is then obtained. It is also a proof of concept that has been put forward about the technical viability of the idea.
The product is a complete version that works, functions, people use it and buy it. MVP is the initial stage of an idea, and when the idea has gained full scope of functionality and efficiency, it is a product.
Successful examples of creating a Minimal Viable Product
Many successful companies started with the development of an MVP. In this article, I would like to combine different implementation techniques and successful cases.
Rent the Runway: the service for the rental of designer clothing began with creating a concierge-type MVP. A distinctive feature is that the software isn’t yet available. It’s more like a demanding test: the creators offered the idea to potential buyers, saw interest, and started making the product.
Buffer: the program for creating deferred posts began its development with the landing page. It contained the main functions and the price list. There, people could leave their email and show interest.
WhatsApp and Spotify: excellent examples that it shouldn’t be with a large set of functions, but only with one or two of the most key and enjoyable. Spotify suggested that users first listen to music from streaming, and WhatsApp suggested specifying their status for phone contacts.
With the help of this scheme, such companies like Zappos, Dropbox, Airbnb, Twitch tested their hypotheses, offered them to the market, and quickly launched.
There are also many ways: to simulate the availability of functionality and do everything manually, make a demo video, offer an idea on Kickstarter, launch a product ad, or the possibility of prepayment. Startups and famous companies use all these ideas. For example, Sony checked whether people need a new PlayStation 4.
Final words about an MVP
An IT startup is not like a regular business process, where every detail needs to be done beautifully, on a large scale, so that people can come to everything ready. The Internet offers solutions to quickly check your guesses remotely, with little risk. And an MVP provides to test your idea.
You shouldn’t create a vast ecosystem with 30 functions — by the way, studies have shown that 60% of the features are not used. Yes, it’s not easy to create a working software framework, so you may need the help of professionals.
Technorely is engaged in the launching and software development and has extensive experience in creating MVP. We are ready to help you ensure that your path is correct. With it, you can continue to develop your idea into an exciting product.