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MVP - Do you think it is a product? It is NOT.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had an idea of developing a product, but after consideration of money, time and work investment, you’ve abandoned it. Let’s be real -  the risk of a failure is big - numbers speak for themselves - about half of a startups don’t meet the market’s needs.

So how to minimize the risk and adjust to people’s expectations? That’s where the process of creating Minimum Viable Product can help you. 

What is Minimum Viable Product all about? 

To put it in a simple way, the main purpose of MVP is to sell a concept to the market in order to gather the most valuable feedback about your potential product. 

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Why it is a process not a product?;

The most important thing - MVP can’t be defined just as less expensive, limited version of a final product. In fact it is more about developing a process, that is being constantly repeated.

During product development you are kind of forced to make lots of assumptions about it’s features, hoping they will be valuable for a potential consumer. What is he expecting from the design or what marketing strategy will be the most efficient? There is no better way to check it, than through experience - providing a product and getting direct feedback. After that  you can repeat the process and improve your final product until it fits the market’s needs perfectly. 

Benefits of doing MVP

MVP process  can definitely make your work more efficient and save you lots of unnecessary troubles:

  • Lower your risk - when discovering your customer’s needs you can easily check, whether the product is needed, without wasting huge amounts of resources.  For the same amount of money you may for instance check five ideas than just one.
  • You get early feedback - the faster you show your product to the customers, the earlier you can start improving and adjusting it. Comments and opinions gathered through MVP process are far more reliable knowledge, than the one from market research. 
  • Short time to market length - full product development often takes months before launching it to the market and is often associated with higher cost and reducing initial version of the product. MVP process focuses on presenting the most basic version of it as quickly as possible and improving it, after gaining direct feedback.
  • Finding early adopters - before your product will make the first million for you it is good to know who will use it at the beginning. Early adopters, eager to explore new technologies can become your biggest critic - helping to solve your product’s problem, or your fan - in this case being great connector to other, future customers. Both options will bring you some profit, so it’s good to stay focused on targeting them. 
  • Gathering investors - If you have a product that is already working, people use it and it brings a value to a market it is an easy way to get an investor, who will invest money to make more complete version of your product.

 

Choose your way of doing MVP

  • A landing page - one of the simplest and cheapest ways to test consumer’s interest in your product is to create a website. It should briefly present the concept and include a call to action. It could be a possibility of signing up to your mailing list or offering them a chance to purchase the product. 
  • Concierge MVP -  imagine, that you are creating an awesome, advanced app. For example travelling service, that enables users to get to any place on earth, including their specific demands, such as fear of flying or willingness to avoid particular places.  Let’s say it can calculate the cheapest, fastest and the most comfortable way. So it uses big amounts of data gathered from different sites from all over the world and returns possible options, based on many algorithms. Sounds like a lot of work?  Now replace the program with a human, who is delivering the service. Here you have - Concierge MVP. The greatest thing about it is that you can test your concept and interact with a customer without really creating a full product. This process will provide tons of informations about your customers and show how valuable is, what you’re offering. 
  • Piecemeal MVP -  you are short on money? This method  might be a good solution. It is based on providing the product, that is built upon using existing tools and platforms. Classic example would be Groupon - at the beginning it provided it’s services using WordPress Blog and generated coupons for customers through FileMaker, which were sent using Apple Mail. 

Way to success - MVP examples

  • Airbnb - heaven for every traveller, searching for accommodation. Would you think, that service being able to create revenue worth about 900 millions of dollars kicked off as a Concierge Minimum Valuable Product? Founders noticed, that all the hotels were overbooked during design conference in San Francisco and offered rental of their apartment to the participants. They created a site, imitating a real service, but all the work was done manually. Maybe this approach would work for your future product as well - providing simple experience and testing demand, without overwhelming users with it’s features. Besides, the service can be gradually improved, focusing on insights from customers. Today Airbnb offers about 2 millions accommodations in 57 000 cities. 
  • Buffer - if you’re short on resources or just still not convinced about MVP magic, this example might be helpful. It doesn’t require lots of engagement from you, bringing in exchange valuable insights. Landing Page - that’s how founders of popular social media tool began.They firstly created simple site with short explanation of the service and pricing button. After clicking, it informed visitor, that service is not ready yet and proposed to leave email address. Site helped to validate the main concept and with signup form they could start a conversation with first potential customers. The next step was adding the price table, that gave insight how much people are willing to pay for this kind of service. Founders decided to build a full version only after gaining certain number of signed customers and quickly were able to generate revenue from the paying ones. 
  • Fru.pl - it is a place where you will find the best offers for plane tickets, both for low-cost companies and traditional airlines as well as hotels accommodation, early booking or last minute holiday packages and much more. For first few months fru.pl was just a portal for buying flight tickets. Users who were buying them thought that behind the buying process there is a system which does it automatically. However there was nothing like that. There were just people who after receiving the buy request were buying manually the tickets on airline portals. Now fru.pl is top 3 travel portals in Poland with millions of users. Few months ago we developed MVP mobile app for price alerts. After tests and adjustments there is Android version  being released now. MVP helped to check:
    • if the flow in the app is right optimal
    • how much time users spend in the app
    • which iOS version are worth supported
    • how many % of transactions are done thanks to the app

 

Conclusion

When going through MVP process, you are assured, that the quality of your product was  requirement for launching. By focusing on must-have features, you are avoiding waste of work, time and money. And the most important - you get the chance to learn - as much about your product as about your customers. 

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