Most of us will admit that investing too much cash and effort in ventures that may turn out to be a failure is a weak business. Is there a way to reduce the risk as much as possible? Of course! It is to prepare a product that will be ready to be shown to the world in a minimal but acceptable way.
What does MVP mean?
The MVP concept is derived from the Lean Startup methodology, which turns conservative business thinking upside down. According to the LS’s concept, if we immediately launch a product that has been refined to the smallest detail, showing absolutely everything we can afford, we have a good chance for a spectacular flap. Such a failure brings not only image consequences, but above all financial consequences – including bankruptcy. The ideologists of the LS methodology propose to reverse this course of thinking, presenting the world with a Minimally Cost-effective Product – one that we are going to arm with all possible “upgrades” only in its final version. This will allow us to examine the market, check the reactions of our customers and only on this basis will we be able to refine our proposal. MVP allows for effective and relatively cheap verification of interest in the product that is to conquer the world. Preparing such a model will give us an answer to the question whether it is worthwhile to continue working on the product or what changes should be made to it.
Starting product = minimum final product
We already know that the principle of MVP is to develop a sequence of prototypes that will allow us to find out what is crucial for the final version of the product and what can be easily skipped in the subsequent stages of work. Therefore, each stage of the journey from the prototype to a fully equipped product must be exactly the same object or service. What does this mean? Let’s stick to automotive analogies. If a manufacturer wants to launch a car, its MVP must also be a car – with the difference that it is presented in the minimum version. After all, the starting point of work on a car is never a scooter or a bike!
I’m buying this product!
The first stage of work on MVP is to answer the question of what makes the customer decide to buy a particular product.
An example is the decision to buy a pass for the gym, where we have not yet had the opportunity to practice. Imagine coming back after a day of hard work, sitting in front of a computer screen and browsing the websites of local gyms. Our attention is drawn to the most attractive and clear website, so we want to contact the staff of the selected gym. In this case, the decision is made after browsing the site, making a phone call or writing an e-mail, providing our data and confirming the purchase of a pass. We do not need a gym presentation by the manager of the facility, we do not have to come to the site, but we also do not know for sure if the club will meet all our requirements. We were sold by a perfectly designed website. Such a gym could be a virtual creation, prepared only to verify the demand for this type of facilities in our city – this would be consistent with the Lean Startup methodology.
When preparing an MVP that is supposed to “check the market” for us, we should “deceive” the customer by giving him the illusion of using the finished product. Deceive? Yes, these words don’t sound very good, but there’s nothing wrong with this model. Only by creating the “illusion of completeness” can we find out whether the world is ready for our proposal and, above all, whether anyone wants to buy it.
Have I made myself clear?
By creating a startup, we can’t allow ourselves to have an unclear message. Our offer has to be transparent and urge potential clients to make a specific decision. How do we create such clear content? It’s easy! Let’s meet with friends, tell them about our product and ask them to describe it in their words. The more elements they manage to capture and present to us correctly, the more confident we will be that the customer will also “catch” what we want to sell them.
Before releasing a product “to people”, you need to know it well enough to know what elements you can deprive it of so that it does not lose its appeal. It is primarily a matter of reducing costs and providing space for its later development. The MVP model is meant to be an experience that will show us if it makes sense to go on and if so, how. A product that does not receive a positive response should go into the bin. Only by gaining information we are able to minimize the cost of our venture and reduce the effort put into it. Do not trust your intuition, analyze the data.
5 MVP rules
As a summary, we propose a set of five rules that govern the MVP:
- Check the accuracy of the idea by investing minimal resources.
- Show users the product in the basic version.
- Collect information from consumers and make use of it.
- Don’t waste time on “upgrades” at the initial stage of product introduction.
- Do not launch a product that users do not want.