How To Build a Minimum Viable Product That’s Immediately Valuable
The difference between success and failure with a Minimum Viable Product almost always comes down to deciding what gets built when.
In 20+ years of building all kinds of products, I’ve come to the conclusion that while there is no perfect plan for success, the most damning mistake startups make with their MVP is building it from the ground up. That kind of unstructured product development leads to disaster every time.
Fortunately, avoiding disaster is pretty simple.
Step 1: Define the value proposition and stick to it
For an MVP to be valuable to both your customers and your company, it has to accomplish three things:
- Your MVP must test the core functionality of your product.
- Your MVP must test the full delivery system for your product.
- Your MVP must prove the market viability of the idea on which your startup is founded.
Again, there is no guarantee that your MVP will be successful, but to even begin to determine whether or not you have a success on your hands, your MVP has to test those three hypotheses. Any feature that doesn’t do that can wait.
Step 2: Avoid sabotaging your MVP
Look, some MVPs are just bad ideas coerced into reality. I can’t help you with that, but what I can walk you through is how to avoid sabotaging a good idea with an unstructured MVP development process. These are the most common mistakes that perpetrate that sabotage:
- The MVP isn’t actually an MVP. Instead, it’s somewhere on a scale from really overproduced demo to really shitty version of the final product.
- The core functionality of the MVP doesn’t work or works so poorly that its viability can’t be accurately assessed.
- The discovery, delivery, and support processes fail the MVP, creating so much noise from bad customer experience around the handling of the MVP that all the data about the product itself becomes moot.
- The MVP is successful, but customers fall in…