BUILD AND THEY WILL
• Apple Newton, 1993-98, Invested $100m
• Webvan, 1999-01, Lost $800m
• Microsoft Zune, 2006-11,
• Amazon Fire, 2014, $170m written-off
• Target Canada, 2013-15, Over $7b lost
• …and many, many more!!!
WHY DID THEY “FAIL”?
Lack of funding?
SO, WHAT’S A STARTUP’S
• A bold experiment to the question
“should this business be built?”
• Startups search for their repeatable
and scalable business model.
• Early and frequent feedbacks allow
course correction and realignment
with the vision.
3 STAGES OF A STARTUP
“Do I have a
“Have I built
“How do I
LEARNING IS PROGRESS!
PRODUCT” IS TOO…
• …even boring :)
• So, what’s the alternative???
Coined by Frank Robinson in 2001 as “that
unique product that maximizes return on
risk for both the vendor and the
“MVP is a mindset of the
says, think big for the long
term but small for the
“A(n) MVP helps entrepreneurs start the process of
learning as quickly as possible.
It is not necessarily the smallest product imaginable,
though; it is simply the fastest way to get through the
Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop with minimum
Unlike a prototype or concept test, an MVP is designed
not just to answer product design or technical questions.
Its goal is to test fundamental business hypotheses”
- Eric Ries
• The Mindset that we don’t have all the
answers, but the market does know them,
and if we can involve the market, we can
learn the answers.
• The Process of identifying riskiest
assumptions, designing the smallest and
cheapest experiments to acquire validated
learning, and correct the course, as often
WHY TEST THE MVP?
• Not so much to validate what we
already know, but to learn what we
don’t really know!
• There’s no such thing as the expected
output. We seek learning, not
• Whatever you get is the right output!
OK, SHOW MY HOW!
• Let’s deconstruct the startup process
• Our interest is to get to Product /
Market Fit (Stage 2)
• What kind of MVPs might help?
• How do we “test” them?
• “Sell ﬁrst, build later”
• Joel Gascoigne had an
idea for service to
queue up social
media / twitter
• Before building it, he
wanted to see if people
would need or use it?
• Choose a low-cost mechanism to build a
virtual community tied to your product.
• Ryan Hoover started newsletter “Product
Hunt” in 20 minutes. After two weeks, he had
130 subscribers. Today, it is valued $22m
• Simplilearn started as blog, then grew into
video content for PMP aspirants…had over
300 courses, trained over 200,000
students…raised over $28m till now…
• Steve Blank - There are no facts
inside the building…get out of the
• Exploratory conversations that allow
you to learn and understand about
• Be an ethnographer, not a salesman!
• Humans substitute for systems AND are
• When you want to learn deeply about how
potential users solve a problem
WIZARD OF OZ MVP
• Problem: In 1999, selling shoes online wasn’t so
obvious. Nick Swinmurm wanted to prove that the
idea was feasible without spending thousands of
dollars of inventory.
• Approach: Nick took pictures of shoes and created
visual catalog. When customers placed order, he
bought those shoes from stores.
• Results: He could prove the concept. After an
unsuccessful attempt to launch a competitive product,
Amazon bought Zappos for US$ 1.2 Billion in 2009.
Today Zappos annual revenues are ~US$ 2 Billion.
• After the initial
experiment with landing
page worked, Joel
• Some people clicked on
• First paying customers in
4 days of launch of a
version with rough
• FiveSecondTest, QuickMVP,
• Google forms, wordpress, Google
PITFALLS OF MVP
• Conﬁrmation bias
• Starting too late
• Expedite time-to-market
• Accelerate revenues
• “Selling” the solution
• Consider “Fail Fast” as “failure”
• Ignore the feedback!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT
KIND OF MVP
• Validating MVPs use a worse product than what the ﬁnal
version will be, so success proves your model but failure is
inconclusive. E.g. Dropbox
• Invalidating MVPs, however, have a better product than
the ﬁnal business, so failure means the business model is
doomed but success is inconclusive. E.g. RentThe Runway
• Unfortunately, we usually pick the wrong kind of MVP: we
tend to choose validating MVPs, even though most
businesses fail because they persist too long in solving
the wrong problem — what invalidating MVPs are
designed to prevent.
• Startups exist to search for business
• Building 100% product based simply on
assumptions is fatal!
• MVPs as a process allow systematic
validation of riskiest hypothesis.
• Testing the MVPs allows validated
learning to drive further decisions.