In this article, we share how to build an MVP, show MVP examples, and debut a minimum viable product template.
What is an MVP?
Minimum viable products are important because they allow businesses to test their product ideas with a small group of users. This approach helps you gather feedback and make improvements before committing significant resources to development. The goal of an MVP is to validate a business idea as quickly and efficiently as possible. Doing this reduces the risk of failure and maximizes the chances of success.
By releasing an MVP, you can determine whether there is a market for your product. An MVP also allows you to gather insights about what features and functionality are most important to users. This information can help the business prioritize development efforts and make more informed decisions about how to move forward. MVPs can also be useful for generating buzz and interest in a product, and for attracting investment or funding.
Creating an MVP, or minimum viable product, is an important step for any new startup. The MVP is a concept originally coined by Eric Ries who wrote The Lean Startup. An MVP is a product that has just enough features to be used by early customers. These early customers will help you gather valuable feedback for future product development. By building and testing an MVP, startups can save time and resources and increase their chances of success.
Don’t overthink your MVP. As entrepreneur Reid Hoffman famously said, “If you aren't embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.”
Set Clear Goals for your MVP
Before building your MVP, pause and make sure you set clear quantifiable goals around what you are looking to learn. What questions do you want to answer? Get started by creating a list of Risky Assumptions. Risky assumptions are hypotheses that you think are true. Rank these hypotheses based on how uncertain you feel about them and de-risk the riskiest hypotheses first. Prioritize the riskiest assumptions because these will kill your business idea.
How do I build a minimum viable product?
Here's how to plan an initial MVP for your startup idea:
- Define your target market. Who are you building your MVP for? Clearly identifying your target market will help you focus on the features that are most important to your potential customers.
- Identify the core value of your product. What problem does your product solve, and what unique value does it offer to your customers? Focus on building the features that deliver this core value.
- Use a minimum viable product template. An MVP template can help you plan and structure your MVP development process. You can find The CEO Strategy’s minimum viable product template here. This template will walk you through the process of key activities to do before you write a line of code.
- Determine the minimum set of features needed to deliver this value. This is the key to an MVP. Don't build too many features, as this will increase your development time and cost. At the same time, you’ll need to build enough features to deliver the core value of your new product.
- Build and test your MVP. Once you've identified the minimum set of features needed, it's time to start building. Build in small increments and talk to potential customers early and often. This will allow you to quickly gather feedback and make any necessary changes.
- Gather feedback and iterate. Once you've built and tested your MVP, it's important to gather feedback from your early customers. This will help you understand what's working well and what needs improvement. Use this feedback to iterate on your MVP and continue to refine and improve your product.
By building an MVP, you can gather valuable data and insights about your product and your target market. These insights will help inform the development of your product over time. You want to maximize learning to increase the likelihood of building a product your target customer actually wants and will pay for.
Building an MVP first will take time and money. As entrepreneur Steve Blank notes, “An MVP is not a cheaper product, it's about smart learning.” That cost will be far less than building a full product that nobody wants.
What are examples of an MVP?
Some examples of MVPs include:
- A landing page with a sign-up form to gather email addresses of potential customers.
- A basic version of a software application with only the most essential features.
- A physical product with a limited number of features or customization options.
- A service offering a limited number of options or in a limited geographical area.
What does an MVP look like in practice?
The online shoe retailer, Zappos, provides a great example of what an MVP looks like in practice. In 1990 their founder Nick Swinmurn searched for a specific pair of shoes, but couldn’t find them at the local mall.
Nick stumbled upon a potential market opportunity: no major online retailer for footwear.
How did he test this? Nick went to shoe stores, took pictures of their inventory, put it on a simple website. When the shoes got purchased on the website, he paid full price to the shoe store and shipped the shoes to his customer. At this stage, the technology wasn’t as important as validating this risky assumption: will people buy shoes online?
By building an MVP, Zappos was able to validate a market opportunity. Their successful MVP also helped gather information on how to develop an online shoe-buying experience with minimum investment. In 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon for $1.2B.
Build Your MVP
By following these steps and using this minimum viable product template, you can effectively plan and create an MVP for your startup idea. This will help you test your assumptions about your target market and gather valuable feedback to inform the development of your full product.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a survey be an MVP?
A survey is not an MVP. Surveys are prone to bias and may not always provide accurate or reliable results. Surveys can be affected by the way questions are phrased, the sample size of respondents, and other factors leading to poor data. As a result, it is important to carefully design and implement a survey in order to maximize its usefulness in preliminary research. Surveys can be a useful tool for gathering feedback, but it is important to consider their limitations. Surveys work best when used in combination with other methods, such as customer interviews or prototype testing, in order to validate a business model.
Can talking to customers be an MVP?
Talking to customers can be a valuable way to gather insights and feedback about a product idea, but this is not considered an MVP. Customer interviews, focus groups, and other methods of gathering feedback directly from users can provide valuable information about customer needs, preferences, and pain points. Collecting this information can help you refine your risky assumptions which you can test with an MVP.
Can a prototype be an MVP?
An MVP is essentially a stripped-down version of a product that's released to a small group of users for the purpose of gathering feedback. The goal of an MVP is to quickly test the viability of a business idea and get insights from real users. Using an MVP accomplishes this without wasting a lot of time and resources.
On the other hand, a prototype is more of a technical demonstration. It's an early version of a product that's used to show that a concept is technically feasible to build. A prototype might be rough or unfinished, and it's usually not meant for end users to actually use.
In summary, an MVP is all about testing market viability and gathering insights from users. A prototype is more about showing that something can be built. It's possible for a prototype to serve as an MVP if it's used to gather feedback and validate a business model. However, this isn't always the case.
Why are MVPs important?
MVPs are an important tool for helping businesses reduce risk, validate their ideas, and gather valuable insights about the market and their customers. In short, MVPs prevent you from building a proposed solution to a problem nobody cares enough to pay to solve.
What is included in the Minimum Viable Product Template?
Our tested MVP template walks you through key buckets to consider when preparing your MVP. These include:
- Value Proposition
- Ideal Customer Profile
- Customer Relationships
- Risky Assumptions
- Experiment Design & Testing
- Experiment Analysis & Results
- Retrospective: What did you learn?
- Next Steps: Pivot, Pursue, or Stop?
Looking for an MVP Coach?
Looking for a coach to walk you through the planning of your first MVP? Fill out our contact form to request an MVP coach. We will match you with someone from our team who will guide you through the process.