What is an MVP and why you should think about one?

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Currently, there is a lot of talk about MVPs. Amongst two of the main topics discussed are how startups should develop MVPs to approach their business idea and why building an MVP could be the best way of testing the market potential for a product. In this post, we shed light on what an MVP is and why you might need one before deciding to dedicate your life to putting your startup idea into practice.

What is an MVP?

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It simply describes a prototype or an initial version of a product (website, web app or any other) which has the main features of the business idea but not all of them. And this is the tricky part… The idea behind an MVP comes from Eric Ries who stresses two main advantages of developing an MVP before diving into deep waters with your startup idea:

1. An MVP is a cost-efficient solution

When you have a startup idea, it should not mean spending years building it before verifying it with your potential customers. It’s like with cake: you don’t buy a whole cake before at least trying a slice first to see whether you want to buy the whole cake. It’s about getting a proof of concept from the market first to make sure that your idea actually solves a problem or the problem is worth solving and that you will eventually find enough customers to engage with your products.

2. You can show an MVP to potential investors

Without having to spend a lot of money on months of development, an MVP gives you the opportunity to show your product to investors interested in your business idea. Nowadays, it’s a concept that investors really understand and sometimes even expect at an early startup stage so they will not be surprised if you present an incomplete developed or functioning prototype to them.
In both cases, an MVP gives you the chance of receiving valuable feedback about your startup idea from your potential customers at an early stage and will help you decide whether or not you should pursue your business dreams further. If the idea catches the users’ and/or investors’ interest, only then should you get a development team to create a fully-fledged product for your customers.

What features should an MVP have?

As mentioned before, an MVP should deliver a proof of concept and give you a clear answer to the questions whether your idea will catch on or not and whether it is worth your time and money. MVPs can range from simple promotional videos (see the famous MVP example from Dropbox), to landing pages where users can only enter their contact details to indicate their interest. It depends on you how much you would like to give to your customers in order to make them happy and receive proof that you are onto something in return.

In most cases, an MVP will be a stripped down version of the product which will have your customers come back for more as soon as the final product is launched. So you should think about showcasing your USP (unique selling point) rather than other things when developing an MVP. For example, if you only have a listing of e.g. 20 offers on your website, it’s not a great idea to spend days or weeks on developing a search functionality with advanced filters for your limited number of offers. Also, if your MVP is a web system, a mobile app is usually something than can be developed at a later stage. There is a famous quote from Eric Ries which you should remember and remind yourselves of on a regular basis: „In case of doubt, simplify“.

Quote: Maciej Krysciak
Source: MVP Space