Minimal Viable Product:
TopicTitle:Minimal Viable Product
In software industry we have always seen products loaded with features, most of which
are never or rarely used. Some even apply the famous 80-20 rule by saying - only 20%
of users actually use 80% of the product features. It may or may not be a fact, but it
certainly is a statement strong enough to make product development teams reconsider
the amount of features they want to put in the launch version of their product.
Many teams approach their initial product offerings aggressively, quite often due to two
based on the invalidated assumption that the features they are building solve an
existing customer problem.
or, they are competing with an existing product which is full of features.
While creating such products, they end up burning time and cash; either trying to solve
the wrong problem or building features that customers don’t necessarily need. The
purpose of a MVP, however, is to maximize the learning.
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is:
"The version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of
validated learning about customers with the least effort" — Eric Ries
Analysis of the proposed solution
How can I translate the solution?
Analysis: The donut theory
Let's pretend you're building a startup with the goal of creating the bestdonut ever.
The product team starts off by building a plain donut. At this point it's considered an
MVP. The product works, but it's probably not quite the bestdonut product out there.
Product roadmaps should be lists of questions, not list of
features - Kent Beck
With the MVP now in place and with the above theory, the team can ask their customers
questions about the donut, like:
What do like the most about the donut?
If you could choose any topping, what topping would you add?
Would you prefer a donut in a different shape?
And, so on.
Using this newfound validated learning from their customers, the team can create a
better donut. But, depending on the context of the customers that provided feedback, the
team can have wildly varying results:
In this particular case, it's to add candy sprinkles.
In a different market, with different customers, those customers may wanted a
If the team spoke to customers in another country, they may wanted a strawberry
As you can see, building the MVP and validating it with customers is just the first part of
building a great product. This loop will happen again and again, as you try
to continually find your product/market fit.
You can't run away from the fact that you don't quite know what your product will
end up looking like until you start validating the MVP with your customers and
getting their feedback.
That's not to say you shouldn't have a long term vision/plan for your product, but it's
important to make your customers a significant part of your journey.
Testing technique of MVPs
The complexity of your MVP depends on the type of product you’re building, and
different kinds of MVPs can range from vague ad words tests to early prototypes. Once
you have determined the hypotheses you need to test with your MVP, here are some of
the testing techniques you can put to use to get reliable data from actual users and utilize
1. Customer interviews
This is essentially an unscripted interview with customers designed to elicit information
about the problem your product is trying to solve. These interviews are meant to be
exploratory rather than as a sales pitch for your product, functional or otherwise.
This process can be continued by listing down the problems you assume your product
will solve and then asking what the customer thinks about them as well as how they
would rank each problem.
2. Ad Campaigns
Perhaps counterintuitively, ad campaigns are a great way of running market validation
surveys. Google and Facebook are platforms that allow you to drill down demographics to
the particular target customer you’re trying to reach, and this lets you run a low-fidelity
test to see which features or aspects of your product are most appealing to them.
3. Explainer videos
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video demonstrating your products user
experience is worth a million. The most famous example of a startup using an explainer
video to validate the market and sell their MVP is Dropbox.
Blogs are a great way of validating ideas with the right target market in minimal effort.
Blogging platforms began in concept on their founders’ blogs where they continued to
flesh out their ideas and gain support from a community of followers and supporters.
There are other techniques too. Users can choose their best way to test MVP.
Conclusion: Why even do a MVP
Some might question the idea of an MVP. Some say - why invest resources in
creating something that looks incomplete to even appeal to the target audience. This
understanding of MVP isn’t right either.
“Minimum” does not necessitate "quick and dirty”.
The idea of MVP is not just to create something minimal. But to create just enough, that
accelerates learning and avoids waste of resources. What to create and how much
resources to spend, still depends on the product and its audience.
Others may suggest that creation of a feedback loop can also be achieved by doing
targeted market research, enabling customer surveys or by creating focus groups. None
of these, however, enable you to receive a feedback custom to your product idea and by
your early adopters. These methods only leave you speculating due to their generic and
predictive nature. Only a MVP allows you to witness your customers using the product
and receive valuable feedback on what works and what doesn’t.