What is MVP
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a concept that stresses the impact of learning in new product development.
It is the version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning with the least effort. This validated learning comes in the form of whether your customers will actually purchase your product.
As the name suggests, MVP can be separated into:
- Minimum: A bare boned functional version of a product
- Viable: It has to fulfil some form of customer need
- Product: Something that customers can use and give feedback for development
A MVP should be able to be implemented fast and at minimal cost. It should be fully functional and have the basic features that answers the CORE of your hypothesised gap of the market.
Why a need for MVP
A MVP will help your startup save a lot of cost, preventing the loss of huge capital because of failed market fit. It is a bare boned functional product that customers can actually use in the market. The customer will be able to experience the product and have a taste of how the end product might be.
For your startup, this provides a valuable feedback system where you can see the whole consumer journey and usage of your product. The data collected is more accurate compared to a survey or focus group where participants can only visualise and imagine how the product will work.
Steps to building MVP
- Market Research
Market Research is important because you have to figure out if there are any competitors out in the market as well as if there is even a problem you hypothesised in the first place.
A few ways to go about conducting market research can be:
You can gather data about your potential customers through surveys or face-to-face interviews. Use a combination of both quantitative as well as qualitative methods. Quantitative methods focus on behaviour (“what” your customers do). Qualitative methods focus on the reason behind their behaviour (“why” the customer does it).
- Competitor Research
Doing a competitor analysis will help you figure out an opportunity for market penetration. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors are a good way for you to build upon your product’s strengths and learn about your own shortcomings so that your product can be further strengthened.
- Understanding User Flow
The next step is to figure out how your potential customers will be interacting with your product. For example, simulating how the user experience (UX) will be like for your application.
Using the customer journey or user flow as the center of your product allows you to look at your product from the customers’ point of view. This forces you to pinpoint any missing links or potential pitfalls that you might have missed out.
For a developer/founder, it is easy to forget to look out for your customers’ interests, this is mainly due to having first hand knowledge of the product. It is essential to take on the role of a customer who has limited knowledge of the product and see what are the points that might hinder the customer journey.
- List Necessary Features and Prioritise
A MVP is a quick and dirty way to get your product out into the market to test your hypothesis. However, it does not mean that you forgo the basic functionality and strive for fast release.
What you need to do is to list out the basic function, necessary features and good to have functions. Having this list will allow you to better roll out an effective MVP. You can release a fully functioning product while keeping your overhead costs low.
Naturally, after figuring out the list of features of “must-haves” and “good to haves” is to build the MVP. Remember, minimal does not mean incomplete. A MVP still requires the basic functions for the customers and from there you slowly add on the other features that are the “good to haves”.
Before launching the MVP, it is important to do an internal testing to make sure that it is fully functional. If not, it will be a scramble to fix the product while it is already launched in the market.
- Measure, Learn, and Improve (Validation)
After releasing the MVP into the market, it is time to obtain feedback and refine your product to make it better. You will have to collect and analyse user feedback. It helps to determine the acceptability, what it’s lacking and features you need to add or remove.
Apart from the direct customer feedback, you can employ different metrics to determine how your MVP is performing in the market. Here are a few of the effective metrics.
Traffic means the number of people visiting your platform. Naturally the higher the number, the more popular your brand is in the market. However, other metrics have to be taken into consideration to have a clearer picture.
- Sign up and registration
Sign ups measure the interest of the users in your product. A high number of sign ups means that users are willing to use your product and even pay for it.
Churn shows the percentage of users that have abandoned your product. The higher the churn rate, the more you should look at your product and troubleshoot.
The Lighthouse Series shed light on the journey of an entrepreneur and how aspiring founders can navigate better in the unpredictable environment. In this series, there will be articles on how an individual can take an idea and grow it to become a company. There will be interviews, suggestions on programmes, and even insights to what investors look for in a business.
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