Minimum Viable Product

The minimum viable product is that version of a new product a team uses to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort” according to Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup methodology in which the Minimum Viable Product (“MVP”) is a core activity.  So what does his quote mean exactly?  Well it depends…

At the end of the day, you want to get something in front of Customers to get their feedback and validation that what you’re showing has value to them. And you want to do this as quickly and cost-effective as possible.  While Eric used the term product, you can show Customers a concept as well.  Here are two examples.

When Zappos started out, founder Nick Swinmurn saw an opportunity to sell shoes online.  Instead of spending a small fortune building a complete e-commerce site (a significantly bigger investment in 1999 than today), he went to local shoe stores, took pictures of shoes and posted them on his site to see if any would sell.  When they sold, he simply went to the store, bought them and sent them to his Customers.  He validated the Customer need to buy shoes online before heavily investing into Zappos.

Dropbox took a different approach and created an MVP demo video of how their file-syncronizing software would work.  Once they released the demo video, their waiting list for the beta Customers went from 5,000 to 75,000 people overnight.  Note that while Dropbox had actual running code in their MVP demo video, they could have created a video with mockups to get their concept across to Customers.  However, if you decide to make a video based on mockups, make sure that you have the capabilities to turn those mockups into an actual working product.

If you need help deciding an approach that best meets your MVP needs to validate your idea with Customers, please contact me.

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