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December 7, 2022 - 5 minutes

What Is a Minimum Viable Product? (MVP)

Who’s the real MVP?! Turns out, it’s not what you think…

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education

Nope, the MVP is neither Ronaldo nor Serena Williams... In tech, it's simply the strategy used to build, test, and market that product. The point is to assess the viability of a new business model without spending too many resources. Confused? Don't worry; we'll explain it all in this article.

Minimum Viable Product: Definition and Origin

Using a minimum viable product (MVP) to test a business model is probably the most common startup launch scheme. 

Surely you've heard of Uber, Dropbox, Slack, Figma, or Netflix? These unicorns all started with an MVP... And you know the rest! 

The MVP concept was invented by Frank Robinson and popularized by Eric Ries, the founder of the Lean Startup methodology. If you haven't heard of it yet, you can read the book The Lean Startup, which popularised the concept.

It's simply the version of a new product that allows the team to create a product with the minimum required functionality to run and gather as much customer insight as possible to make it evolve quickly. This is supposed to require few resources and allow for rapid positioning of the product or service. In short, it is meant to be a sure path to success for a tech product. 

The MVP is the personification of this idea: Fake It 'Til You Make It

What is the MVP's Purpose?

What is the point, you may ask, of putting a still unfinished product on the market very quickly? Very good question, indeed.

It's simple: you don't have to invest too much money in something that might not work. Test your idea to improve it. Allow a product to reach its public. The basic observation is clever: too many companies fail because they have not reached their audience. The MVP gives the founders and the first employees the means to avoid this pitfall.

Once the product is in the market, you can improve and enrich the product through agile development methods.

Buffer started as an agile MVP. In 2010, its creator, Joel Gascoigne, had a disruptive idea for an application that would allow him to schedule his social media posts. He started by creating a landing page to test his concept and after reaching a critical mass of pre-registrations, Gascoigne developed the first version of his application in seven weeks. The initial version of Buffer contained limited functionality and only allowed access to Twitter. Nine months after its launch, the application had over 100,000 users and gradually became the product we know today.

How Can I Create a MVP?

1. Validate the idea

First, define and validate your idea. It sounds simple, but you have to spend some time and be able to answer these questions with ease:

  • What problem are you addressing? 

  • Who is your target audience? 

  • What will the solution consist of? 

  • To which market do you intend to sell? 

All these answers will help you to calibrate your MVP. This is also crucial for step 4 (don't worry, we will come back to this!) Don't go into too much detail about the features yet, that will come later. The aim of this stage is to define your concept — that's good enough for now.

2. List the competitors

Of course, this second step is complementary to the first. Calculate the market potential (are you going to sell to 500, 1 million or 1 billion potential customers?) and see which competitors have already invested in it. With this data, you will know if you are facing a blue ocean, i.e. a commercial space full of potential.

3. Establish the user journey to the main goal of your agile MVP

The next step is to define the main user objective that your product serves. Carve out a very simple, first user journey that will lead them to this goal; it will inevitably evolve, it is not set in stone. 

The deliverable is usually a clickable mock-up. The simpler and more aesthetically pleasing the design, the more attractive your product will be. 

4. Prioritize core functionality

It's time to think about the main features of your product. 

Don't go into too much detail! Did you know 50% of product features are never used? It makes you think. You might as well focus on the 20% of features that will bring 80% of benefits to potential customers.

5. Develop and test your agile MVP 

This penultimate stage is the heart of the reactor. This is where we really get to the heart of the MVP, where you will start to develop your MVP. You will have previously defined several scenarios to be tested on the wireframes, for example: functionality, usability, user paths, and more. And you will list and prioritize the changes to be made to the most promising scenario.

6. Adjust the product to the needs of the customers identified during the testing phase

The very last step is marketing. You are no longer in a small committee; your product is open to the world (and its opinions!). This is where you will get the most feedback and can speed up the update. And only at this point can you add the secondary features of your product roadmap. 

Fake it until you make it: this credo of tech stars has worked for hundreds of popular start-ups. 

Are you intrigued by this environment and want to develop tech products via MVPs or maybe even launch your own company? Enroll in an Ironhack Bootcamp to get started today!

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