How To Build a Minimum Viable Product That’s Immediately Valuable

Don’t build your MVP from the ground up

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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:

  1. Your MVP must test the full delivery system for your product.
  2. Your MVP must prove the market viability of the idea on which your startup is founded.

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 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 love with an overpromised and ultimately under-delivered version of the final product.
  • The MVP is successful, but the results wind up being a lot of false positives around functionality that won’t scale and grow into something valuable.

Step 3: Don’t build your MVP from the ground up, build from the sky down

This is how the birth of a new product almost always works: You have the idea, you find the talent, you draw up the roadmap. So now what do you build first?

  1. You’ll launch the wrong thing first and never get traction, because none of your potential customers will understand the full value of the realized product. For example, if Amazon had started life with their third-party marketplace, without the infrastructure they had first established with shipping books and CDs and eventually with Amazon Prime, that company just becomes an eBay clone. No one wants to be an eBay clone.
  2. You won’t launch at all. The team will spin forever debating a dozen MVPs or a dozen different takes on a single MVP. All of these options might require a slightly different strategy, maybe even different positioning. As you finally settle on one option, all the other options start to make more sense, and you keep going back to the drawing board.

Step 4: Build your MVP around the core

Another MVP approach I talk about often is building around the core functionality of the product, making those specific features robust and prime-time-ready, then cutting corners everywhere else.

Always think about value

Let’s bring it back to a really simple use case. When I write a post, I’m not just thinking about the moment, I’m thinking about value.

  • Am I providing value to every other reader like you, generating insights that apply universally?
  • Am I setting you up so that you’ll want to read the next thing I write?

I’m a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. Building Precision Fermentation & Teaching Startup. Former Spiffy & Automated Insights. More at joeprocopio.com

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