Eric Ries defined an MVP or Minimum Viable Product as “that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
In short, before you invest time and money to build a full-featured product, just build one core feature or core set of features that you think your customers are going to use (or buy) with minimum time, money and resources. This will help you to validate or invalidate your hypothesis about the product’s success.
Let me give you an example, when Nick Swinmurn started Zappos (an online store that sells shoes) he did not spend any money and time buying an inventory of shoes, instead he just went to all the Shoe store in the locality and just photographed all the available shoes and posted it on his website, when someone bought a shoe from Zappos, he actually went to the shop, purchased the shoe and shipped it to the customer. In this way, he validated whether people would visit his site and buy shoes or not. Zappos went on to become a successful company and later Amazon bought it for $850 Million.
This approach can be applied to any product. It is very important because of the following reasons.
- Helps to validate your idea faster
Since you are only going to spend minimum effort and time to build one or few core features and take it in front of your customers, and you can actually check if the customers like it and pay for it? You can quickly get feedback and if required you can change the direction you are heading with your product.
2. Fail without being hurt too much
The product that you are building is going to fail, you could get a sense of it very early and you could take actions to ensure the success of your product. But if your overall direction is heading to a disaster you could change course and make decisions that could make your product successful.
3. Keeps your team motivated
If you push your team to build a product end to end and if it fails in the market, your team might get demotivated. When you go back to the team for changes and updates they might think of it negatively. But instead, if you get them on-board with the mentality of experimentation and let them know in advance that your decision on the product road map is based on the result of the experiment, then they are more likely to be involved positively when you change directions of your product development.
An inspired team is always critical for the product’s success.
In this way, you can make the right decisions for your product and head towards success.
Before ending this blog post, I would like to refer you to this talk by Micheal Seibel on How to Plan an MVP? at Y Combinator. It’s insightful. Do check it out.
I wish you all the success and take care!