Here’s What Happens When You Have a Bad Minimum Viable Product

Very few MVPs are complete successes out of the gate

Joe Procopio

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Last week, I took an hour or so to walk a founder through the forensics of her failed minimum viable product (MVP) launch.

As someone who has launched dozens of minimum viable products — from software to hardware to retail and more — I can definitively state that your MVP launch will end one of three ways.

The first two outcomes are rare, so I won’t spend much time on them:

1. The MVP is a smashing success, in which case, congratulations!

2. The MVP is an unmitigated failure, in which case, you have my sympathies.

But the vast majority of MVP launches result in an outcome that can only be labeled:

3. “Yeah, it’s viable. Now what?”

The worst of the bunch are the ones that don’t give much of a signal as to whether or not you should move forward. So here’s what I do when I can’t figure out what my next step should be.

Your Results Are Vague? Ask Again Later.

If I’m truly on the fence as to whether or not I’ve got a winner on my hands, I can extend the MVP pilot and reassess.

The truth is, if there were a set period of time when new solutions presented themselves as viable products, we’d have a lot more successful entrepreneurs. The only caveat here is don’t do this indefinitely — and don’t extend the timeline without making significant changes to everything but the core product itself.

Maybe your messaging was clunky. Maybe the delivery was full of friction and hurdles for the customers to climb over. Your pricing or price model may have worked against you. There might even have been enough external factors — and there are always external factors — to suppress more actionable results.

But like I said: You may have just launched an awful product, so consider that possibility before you spend more time and money trying to prove otherwise.

Your Result Set Is Small? Shake Up Your Target Market.

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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