Minimum Viable Product


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MVP - Minimum Viable Product (and why you want it). Presented at WordUP! Minneapolis 2013

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  • When you think of MVP, you probably think of this guy. But really, who is the MVP?
  • This guy! - Who am I: Justin Foell - partner at, web developer since 2003. I didn't study marketing in school, I studied computer science. But I worked for a successful internet marketing company for 5 years and learned quite a bit during that time. The biggest takeaway was they would constantly make small changes to their websites to see what worked. They'd move slightly in a new direction, and then they'd try something else. It wasn't very scientific, but it was a great way to test the market.
  • - MVP - Minimum Viable Product "An MVP should have just enough features to allow you to deliver value to your early adopters, get paid, and gather feedback to further develop your product." Your minimum viable product may be lemonade, but you may additionally have to step back and see if there's market interest in lemonade. An MVP is all about gaging market interest. During the course of this talk - the content may speak to you directly if you're developing a product, or it may be advice you can use to sway a client that wants to send you on a death march. It can help you manage their expectations, and ultimately the amount they spend.
  • - Don't be that guy - Reduce features to minimum amount "It has to have X" - every time someone says that, especially if X one feature out of a huge list - question it. Is this feature really necessary?
  • This may be hard for entrepreneurs, it's their idea. You telling what they do and don't want is a tough pill to swallow. Keep at it, fight the good fight! Is a feature just there because the competition does it? Doing something simply because competitors do it is bad reasoning. You should be doing something to set yourself apart from your competitors. Will the feature (or lack) foster (or counteract) adoption? The reality is you probably don't know if it will, so it's better to be rolled out as a single update to see if has any effect.
  • - Don't be concerned with people stealing your ideas. If you get to market first, you will have a leg up on your competition Often what makes an idea fly is the people surrounding it, not the idea itself. No, I won't sign your NDA. Here's how it goes: someone makes me sign an NDA to tell me they want to build Then I need to spend the rest of my time convincing them they shouldn't build, they should build what doesn't have. Then I regret wasting my time (and signing the NDA).
  • - How many features would you rather have: 1 or 0? The likely scenario if you have a huge feature list is that the product will take months to develop. In the meanwhile, the market may change, and more likely the client will change their mind about what they want before the first release. This will result in extending the development timeline.
  • - Take a page from Open Source - release early, release often LET THESE WORDS SINK IN Why do you want to release early?
  • To get paid! Your MVP should be valuable enough to justify it's initial cost. You can use it to build capital to pay for further development without having to borrow.
  • Already using WordPress & WooCommerce, selling baseball cards and using ustream to show it live every night. Original request: Reponsive Theme, Team Break, Random Break, and Draft Break. He could have opted to do all of these all at once (that was his original request). We convinced him it would be better to do these features one-at-a-time. He does breaks nightly, so he can get immediate feedback on features released. Phase 1: Responsive Theme & Team Break Phase 2: Random Breaks Phase 3: Draft Breaks Phase 4: One-click purchase?
  • - What if you're running on seed money or you don't sell a product? CROWD It's better to build a client base and test your market so you don't release a steaming pile of dog poop after your development team has been locked in a room for 6 months.
  • - If your project has large technical hurdles, consider venture capital, bootstrapping, or self-seeding You know what this means?
  • I won't talk about Venture Capital, I'm more of a boostrap type of guy, but there are funding options out there. If you've got a big idea but not the bankroll, you'll need to exercise one of these options. A question that should be asked:
  • HOW MUCH RISK ARE YOU WILLING TO TAKE? Is the greater reward always accompanied by greater risk? I don't think so. Small steps along the way, will make users and investors happier in the long run. An acquantence spent six-figures building an app with borrowed money and there's no telling if the app will be profitable. If you're a self-starter you might try something like Kickstarter.
  • Let's look at Pressgram as an example. It uses WordPress! John Saddington raised his goal, so even starting his project had very little risk. If he were to quit his job and just work on Pressgram, he probably could have taken a year to develop it by himself - but that timeline is too long. Pressgram already had 500 paying adopters. Was there market interest? Hell yes! The iPhone app and website released less than 5 months after it was funded.
  • - Why do we use WordPress? Because it is a rapid development framework. Content Management System User system: logins, passwords, roles Theming engine: single best thing about WordPress Plugin repository: reduce your risk by using as much out-of-the box functionality as possible Focus your development time on what makes your client's site unique - don't reinvent the wheel.
  • Minimum Viable Product

    1. 1. Justin Foell ● Partner at ● ● @justinfoell
    2. 2. MVP – Minimum Viable Product
    3. 3. Rome Amazon wasn't built in a day
    4. 4. Reduce features to a minimum
    5. 5. People will steal my idea!
    6. 6. How many features would you rather have: 1|0
    7. 7. Release early, Release often
    8. 8. CardSmithsBreaks
    9. 9. I don't sell a product
    10. 10. My MVP is BIG
    11. 11. How much risk?
    12. 12. WordPress = Rapid Development