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The Minimum Viable Product Approach

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product with just enough features and functionality to satisfy early customers while also providing valuable feedback for future product developments. 

There have been healthy conversations around the concept of a minimum viable product. The Business Model Canvas was introduced in a one-page template format by Alexander Osterwalder to help startups find product-market fit around a strong value proposition and customer segments. The Lean Startup, the best-selling book by Eric Ries, became a blueprint for building and launching new products. Steve Blank made this education readily available for any entrepreneur looking to build a startup.

Still, there are more tips and insights that can be gained regarding getting to an MVP from developers and entrepreneurs themselves. Here are eight different definitions of a minimum viable product and tips on how to get to an MVP faster. 

professionals-who-contributed-to-this-articleCreate A Landing Page

The startup can create a single landing page that promotes their free product or service. Since this landing page has a form to capture customer email and phone numbers, you can learn from user interactions and decide which features need to be dropped, improved, or added. This user feedback garnered through surveys is extremely valuable. The startup can also discover why potential customers bought the product/service or why they didn’t. This kind of MVP helps in testing, designing, and delivering the final product.

-Craig Rosen, InterviewFocus

Develop With a Low or No Code Software

In the software and technology space, this used to boil down to “build or buy?” but these days it’s more like “build, buy, or make with no-code software.” Hiring developers is expensive, but it’s the easiest way to get exactly what you want. Or you could purchase the technology, but that’s also expensive and can mean that your app isn’t customized the way you want. One of the coolest offerings on the market today is to build your MVP app with a low- or no-code software. These platforms help you translate your idea quickly into an app that you can experiment with, which will help you understand whether to invest in building a full-fledged app is necessary.

-Rob Bellenfant, TechnologyAdvice

Identify The Value Proposition

The value proposition of a startup is the usefulness of a product or service that is provided to customers. A great value proposition is a simple statement that is tried and tested against customer feedback and tests. Once the value proposition is nailed or at least slimmed down, the development of a minimum viable product becomes much easier. Features and functionality can be sacrificed if they do not support the core of the value prop. By having clarity around what value you’re driving for customers, developers and entrepreneurs can create a more linear roadmap to MVP. 

-Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Incremental Improvements of the Product

Whether you use focus groups or just quick iteration, you need to get feedback from the people that actually use the product. There's nothing wrong with quick iterations and incrementally improving a product, particularly software products. You can still release a quality product that isn't perfect from the perspective of the user's experience but you won't know what you need to refine until you can get that feedback.

-Peter Adams, Ping! Development

Keep Separating Yourself From Your Competitors

Develop an overview of rivals until you continue to transform the proposal into a commodity. This method of research will provide you with details about whether the industry has comparable goods. To make the product exclusive, see what the rivals are offering and use their experience. In order to achieve a strategic edge, it is okay to be motivated by the rivalry and tweak the commodity.

-David Meltzer, East Insurance Group LLC

Weekly Sprints

I recommend new startups to work on weekly sprints—rather than monthly or quarterly. Daily standups are a must—as it helps the whole team know what's going on every day, from design and content to back- and front-end work. Also, businesses need to discard the notion that every release has to be perfect. For an MVP—your aim should be to collect user feedback as soon as possible and quickly reiterate as you go along the product development cycle.

-Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf

Ask For Feedback Only When Necessary

Any product is viable as long as you have a customer who is willing to give you their credit card to buy it. Your MVP needs to be compelling enough for customers to tell you, “yes” not “no.” Unless you take a chance and guess on what your customers want, you need to collect feedback and survey your audience. That being said, over time, as you iterate on your product and introduce new features and/or product lines, those may not necessarily need approval by your customers, as they are simply better versions of your MVP. However, you must start somewhere, and that somewhere is figuring out what your customers want/need.

-Cameron Ross Steiner, Director of Sales and Product Development

Remember Why You’re Creating It

The best advice I can give about developing a minimum viable product is to remember why you are creating it. Make sure your product hits the main points that you're trying to hit, but don't get hung up on details. Many people mistakenly believe that you create an MVP in order to get your product to the market and begin to make money as soon as possible. The biggest reason to create an MVP is so that you can get something in front of people so that you can begin to get feedback from your audience. You can use this feedback to iterate and make your product better. The less you do before you get it in consumer's hands, the less you'll have to redo if they don't like it.

-Mark Varnas, Red9

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