In the world of IT startups, competition is growing every day. It is crucial to provide consumers something that will solve their problem, and do it first. Nevertheless, in the race for leadership, it is important to find a balance between the quality of the product and the speed of going-to-market its product. Solving this problem, Frank Robinson (Executive Director of SyncDev)has developed the concept of MVP (minimum viable product). Later it was picked up and made world famous by American entrepreneurs Steve Blank and Eric Rees.
In this article, we will talk about how to act correctly when introducing consumers to their minimally viable product.
What is good about minimalism at the start of a business?
More and more individual startups and projects of large IT companies produce a prototype product with minimal sufficient functions to solve the basic tasks of consumers which are supporters of MVP, in case of limited resources (time, finance, technology). After getting feedback from the first users, they modify the "source code" or look for a radically different solution if the market doesn’t need that product.
They save time and money, and often save their business from downfall because of huge number startups (40 % and more) seemed "to be screwed" as so, their seemingly perfect and carefully designed product didn’t find the expected response from customers.
According to research of the Standish Group, 64% of users make it with basic functions without using additional tools in various applications, platforms and programs. However, at the start of the product, it often makes no sense to invest in the development and configuration of special features because they can be offered when the client has already mastered the simplest form of the product. Therefore, the way of MVP is to first test the "base", understand what the client needs, and only then move on.
Stage 1. Test one and only one of your hypotheses with a prototype
Decide on the problem that is the "pain" for the client, and able to eliminate your minimum product. In theory, it should be the most effective "painkiller" that the consumer didn’t even think of it for something to exchange.
For instance, the Uber application that in fact was also brought to the market in the form of MVP solved the basic problem by fast and comfortable communication between passengers and drivers: the car is called by simply pressing a button. Additional tools service "overgrown" already in the process provided services to thousands of customers.
Stage 2. Optimize the scale of the project
If there are external reasons that delay the output of the product, try to refuse on the first stage of increased automation and reduce the scale of the MVP. Most likely, that will be enough to shift the focus to solving the existing problem and open the way for your product to the first consumers.
MVP has the right to be not 100% innovative and perfect (it will be achieved later). Now the main thing is that it took part in the race and reached the client first.
Stage 3. Look at the product through the eyes of the customer
Consider how comfortable and practical it is to use the product now and what can be implemented later, but if possible with minimal technical and financial resources. For instance, the Groupon coupon platform at the first stage of MVP withdrawal was important to connect companies offering goods and services with discounts and customers who were ready to purchase coupons for these offers. Then there was the question of evaluation of the services provided, the conditions of return for cancellation by the customer or poor quality service by the contractor, etc. A startup should be ready to respond quickly to feedback and offer a solution to the problem.
Stage 4. Focus on critical errors
The best is the enemy for the good. At release of a new product, there is a risk to be bogged down in "grinding" of details and study of possible "jambs". In any case, it is impossible to predict everything and "lay a straw" at every step. Be prepared, something will go wrong and calmly react to it. Operational solutions require only critical flaws (for instance, the safety of customer data), and the study of small things can wait.
Stage 5. Run the pilot on a narrow audience
You can consider MVP as a general rehearsal of the product: here you should open access only for "your" and especially loyal customers. Limit your first users to certain loyal groups or corporate customers. Invite them to test the prototype and share feedback. This approach minimizes risks (including reputational ones) and will allow eliminating detected errors quickly and without undue attention from the public.
What else is important not to miss
No less important step than the five listed above is to consult with professionals and calculate the financial model of the young project. This will allow the founders of the business to calculate the budget and projected profits, as well as, if necessary to attract external investment. After all, the development and launch of even a minimally viable product costs a lot of money.
"Business Platform" is always ready to assist startups in calculating the financial model, search for investors and professional presentation of the product. We have extensive experience of interaction with IT projects and understand what do the market and investors expect from promising and innovative startups.
The MVP method developed the above-mentioned projects like UBER taxi, calling application Groupon discount coupon service, YouTube video hosting, Dropbox cloud storage, Snapchat messenger, UXpin cloud web design solution and many other well-known projects. Together with the "Business Platform", your project will soon join the ranks of successful MVP-products.
The record was published - 24.10.2019