“Think big, start small, learn fast”. I chose this sentence to start the text because it represents what is like working with MVP.
MVP, short for Minimum Viable Product is a concept that emerged in Silicon Valley and became very famous after the publication of the book Lean Startup, by Eric Ries.
The MVP, as the name implies, is the simplest set of features made available to users to validate an idea and collect essential data to guide the direction of the product. Even if the final product is something much bigger, this minimum is essential to find out if the path is correct or if it is necessary to change direction (pivot).
MVP avoids waste of time, money and effort building a product that will not meet expectations. To mitigate these risks, you must understand and validate the assumptions about the business before trying to find a definitive solution.
Using an analogy, imagine that your final product is like a cake. To do so, you must think of all the layers, right?
Before the turn of the century, before agile methodologies, the “normal” was to plan and build the whole cake. And only deliver it when it was complete.
However, using agile methodologies, you can plan the complete cake, but deliver it to the consumers (or someone who checks if it is how the consumers want it), slice by slice. So, if the consumers don’t like it, the whole cake won’t be wasted: you cancel the project.
And where does MVP enter into this story? MVP is like a cupcake, a smaller and simpler (but still viable) version of the cake. The MVP concept emerges in the Lean StartUp movement, at the end of the first decade of this century.
Thus, the consumers can experiment and decide whether they like it or not. In that case, there is no need for someone to check if the customers want it – the cupcake is complete! Let the consumers themselves experiment and decide.
You can still make more than one cupcake, with different flavours so that the best one is chosen. This will allow your product to be validated or directed to the best path.
Let’s think of another example: imagine that you want to create a tractor to cut grass. Instead of investing time and resources right away in the final product, you can first build a MVP. Scissors for cutting grass, for example, can validate the first basic hypothesis: “Is there grass to be cut? Are there users who would pay for an object to cut grass? ”
In order for these questions to be answered, it is necessary to select niche users who will use the product first hand. The feedback of these people will be essential for making decisions about both the product and the business. And it is not necessary to make it available to thousands of people, as this goes against the MVP concept of validating quickly.
With insights from the first users, you will evolve your MVP. Learning, validating and augmenting the product with many useful features.
Did you know that even Apple worked that way? The first Iphone was a minimum viable product! It had minor bugs and few functions, that is, it was an incomplete product. But it served to validate the idea that the Apple smartphone would be a product to be consumed (and very desirable!)
It was the same with Facebook. What started out as a simple website that was meant for just a few MIT students to share their photos, expanded until it reaches the social network that is used by millions of people around the world!
An example of a successful Brazilian business that started with a MVP is EasyTaxi. Before creating the application, the startup validated the hypothesis that there was a demand to call taxi online. The founders did this through a simple webpage on which the person put the information to request a taxi (the founders would receive an email and then call the taxi on behalf of the person). Gradually, the MVP and the business has evolved into an amazing success story.
Think big, start small, learn fast. Plan the MVP, the simplest product that will be created and made available to users to validate an idea. Tweet This.
One thing that all these companies have done and you also need to do is not to forget the word “viable”. As much as your product is still incomplete, it needs to be functional and usable. Otherwise, if it doesn’t work, you can break your business before it even starts.
For MVP – and consequently the product – to succeed, it needs to meet these four requirements: be valuable, be feasible, be usable and have the “wow” factor (the differential, the innovation). Iphone, Facebook and EasyTaxi were all at once, even in their simplest versions. You cannot choose to be first valuable and then usable. All of these characteristics must be present at the same time.
But how do you decide which way the MVP will go? Unfortunately it is not easy. And it gets even more complicated when the people involved are not aligned. That’s why the first step is to schedule a Lean Inception!
Lean Inception is the effective combination of Design Thinking and Lean StartUp to decide the MVP. It is a workshop divided into several stages and activities that will guide an agile team in building the ideal product. Drive your business, your product, your team to success: schedule a Lean Inception.