Before You Launch Your Minimum Viable Product, Do This

Joe Procopio
6 min readFeb 5, 2019

Your MVP is your first impression, both for your startup and for you as an entrepreneur.

I wrote a piece two weeks ago about the increasing number of trash MVPs coming to market and what the “minimum” part of MVP should actually mean. I got a lot of responses back asking: When do we know we can launch our MVP without courting disaster?

We’re always going to be a little nervous at launch. We should be. But we can’t wait forever, so here’s a high-level checklist I use to give my MVP its best chance, with some real-world examples thrown in.

  1. Make sure everyone is aware of our MVP’s goals.

We’re doing an MVP to test the basic hypothesis of our product. To put it bluntly, our MVP is trying to determine whether or not our product deserves to exist.

We should launch with core features only, those that are going to prove our hypothesis. Core features should run exactly as they will in the actual product, but any supporting features should be manual, faked, or just plain turned off.

We do this for two reasons. 1) To get to market as quickly as possible and 2) To reduce the noise those additional features will add to our test results.

At my current startup, Spiffy, we launched an OBD-II reader (goes in the little port down by your steering wheel), to allow customers of our app to be able to read whatever code lit up their check engine light. Neat. Simple.

There are dozens of implications and plans we have for this new product, and some of them are now underway, but the MVP had to do one thing: Read the code. That alone was an incredibly complex task, which we only fully realized during the MVP launch itself.

2. Define success, failure, and what to do when the MVP lands between the two.

Success means X many of our customers use the MVP this often, in these ways, for this long, and are this engaged with it. Failure means the opposite.

We’ll also need a plan for what to do next when our MVP neither succeeds nor fails. What did we miss? What do we tweak? Do we do another MVP? How much time do we spend manually polling and surveying customers?

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com