This is why MVP in Agile product development is so important.
Almost all software today is developed using the Agile methodology which presupposes dividing the project into sprints. It allows to reduce risks and respond to required changes quickly.
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) helps entrepreneurs deliver an idea to early adopters and get valuable feedback to assist development and avoid uninformed decisions.
Most of the applications you use today used the MVP approach to make their products fully-fledged later (Airbnb, Dropbox, Buffer to name a few). These examples denote that you should definitely consider making an MVP before releasing a full-featured solution.
I’ll walk you through MVP meaning, give business examples to learn from and show whether you need to turn your product into MLP:
According to Lean Startup concept by Eric Ries, a successful startup creation process starts with a question “Do users need my product?”.
MVP in Agile development is not aimed at launching a startup for less money or resources’ but on minimizing risks by focusing on customers, gathering their feedback and thus iterating on it.
MVP is a 1.0 version of a new product possessing enough features to satisfy customers and collect maximum data about their opinions in order to continue improving the product.
Think, for instance, of your smartphone. Can you call it MVP?
Hardly, as it is far from the minimum.
A minimum viable product here is a voice communication device, a basic model of the phone with a separate handset and a microphone.
Back in the 19th century, it impressed society as it provided the compelling need to talk to each other at a distance. The telephone has traveled a long way to become an essential part of our lives, full of extra features allowing us to call, text, read, play, access the Internet and so on.
The very first version of the telephone is an MVP of a smartphone you use today.
Thus, MVP stands for:
Minimum: a basic set of features and capabilities which …
Viable: provides a value to the customers, so that they are ready to pay money (or some other currency as personal data), and …
Product: ready to use today.
The riskiest thing about a new product is not even the technology you choose for development, but whether the customers are ready to use the product and pay for it.
Building any software product should always begin with the customer.
To be sure that you are creating something the customers need, you have to put your idea in their hands and find out whether they like it and what they want to be improved.
This way, you don’t waste your time and money on useless (for your target audience) features.
If done correctly, MVP Agile approach helps to avoid failure and substantial capital loss.
- MVP is not about making profit
At the first step, you should be ready to get the feedback, analyze and learn. If everything is done right, profit won’t be long in coming.
- MVP is not about time-to-market
A speedy delivery to market is often overemphasized, especially if it is opposed to focusing on market acceptance. Sure, a quick development is essential, but only in the context of obtaining more data quickly.
- MVP’s design is not aimed to impress
It is aimed to solve customer problems with very basic design and functional features. MVP is a balance between usability and efficiency.
- MVP is not supposed to be an end product
Sometimes when a client requests the estimation they say something like “My budget is limited so I need an MVP,” meaning a fully blown app (containing some extra features). This is incorrect. MVP is just a basis for launching the entrepreneurship.
Takeaway: MVP offers an opportunity to find the way to a successful and in-demand product. The idea is to not introduce an incomplete product that becomes complete over the course of time, but to build a basic, focused on the most valuable functions, a product that becomes more and more eminent with the new features added.
Google, WhatsApp, Netflix, Instagram started from MVP.
Who in the world at any range between 15–50 years don’t know about these services now?
Few, if any.
Here are more famous success stories.
Facebook is definitely one of the most brilliant examples of MVP. Initially it was a social network for a small number of users (Harvard students) released to collect feedback. The 1.0 version involved a profile page, friend requests, and Send Message options. We all know what Facebook is now and how it looks: news feeds, photo sharing, events, ad management, reactions, live video streaming, and much more. Just look at the difference:
Before we all knew Airbnb as Airbnb, it was Airbed and Breakfast. It is a classic example of MVP started in 2008, when the founders decided to provide cheap accommodations for those who came to a design conference in San Francisco. They started a simple website with photos of flats and marketed it toward targeted audience. They worked through demands and customer requirements and have more than 150,000,000 users today.
Groupon initially was a WordPress blog under the name, “The Point,” aimed to bring people together to solve various problems. After it didn’t succeed, Groupon jumped into the ring and provided daily deals in blog posts. This simple website pointed out that it was a market worth the effort. Today it is a worldwide service which brings subscribers and local dealers together by suggesting services, activities and goods in 15 countries.
The above are only three examples of many existing minimum viable products that turned into successful products. Who knows, maybe some time later your product will join the ranks of worldwide stars.
With the popularity of Agile methodology in software development, some alternatives to MVP have been proposed. Most of them appeared as a desire to underline various peculiarities of MVP. One of such alternatives is a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP), or Minimum Awesome Product (MAP).
“It’s better to build something that a small number of users love than a large number of users like.” – Sam Altman, Y Combinator
Similar to MVP, Minimum Loveable Product denotes the simple version of a sellable product ready for introducing to the market.
The idea of MLP is focused on validating that the customers LOVE the product and willingly will tell their friends about it.
In case there is no competition on the market then your MVP with fewer features and simple design will turn into the MAP by default.
If the competition is high, then MVP will not be enough to acquire users. You need to attract them with both lovable design and features.
There is neither one single methodology to create a minimum lovable product, nor a universally applicable standard showing how MLP should look like.
For example, Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! (the provider of a product roadmap software), determines the main characteristics of MLP (citation):
- At least one person tells you it’s never been done.
- Customers visibly smile when you describe it to them.
- Someone swears when he hears the idea (in delight or disgust).
- You dream of using it.
- Only your CTO or top architects think it’s possible.
- People start contacting you to learn about what you are building (old school word-of-mouth).
- The top industry analysts are not writing about it.
Takeaway: MVP helps puzzle out what features are the most important and what features the product lacks. It is beneficial for all startups to follow an MVP concept in the initial development. On the other hand, MLP approach is useful for startups aimed to conquer a wide audience, as it helps to check whether your product has the potential to be viral and win over the world.
The goal of each startup is to demonstrate that the product is something that customers need and are ready to pay money for. So, Minimal Viable Product is a substantial first step for every startup able to test whether you are going in the right direction.
You should remember that a real MVP should serve your customers first, solve one particular problem, be easy to launch at short notice and have an easy-to-navigate UI.
So, eventually, analyze your v.1.0 solution and if it doesn’t deliver these features, then it is likely not a minimum nor viable product.
We at MindK have helped a myriad of companies to develop their MVP and will be happy to discuss what we can do for you!