Benefits of a minimum viable product (MVP)
A minimum viable product is an efficient way to validate whether there is a need for your product in the market – without spending significant time and money to get it there. You might expect a certain customer response, but you won’t truly know whether customers will purchase your product until it’s live in the market.
Launching an MVP allows your business to start collecting early feedback around features, product-market fit, pricing, and more. This information allows you to proceed with product development with confidence and tailor your product to your customer needs.
A minimal viable product also serves to mitigate risk. If your business completes product development and executes marketing strategy without early market testing, you run the risk of expending resources on a product that won’t succeed.
Common MVP pitfalls
1. Minimal functionality
It’s a misconception that an MVP should have minimal functionality. The level of functionality should be determined by the information you seek to obtain. If you release a product without enough functionality for a customer to really get a sense of your product and whether it meets their needs, you aren’t likely to get actionable feedback for further product development.
2. Seeking perfection
While it might seem counterintuitive to release an imperfect product, remember that the purpose of an MVP is to glean valuable information to inform product iterations. The sooner you get your product into customers’ hands, the sooner you can work to perfect it. If you invest too many resources into the product before getting that feedback, you might lack sufficient resources for future iterations.
3. Targeting everyone
Your ideal MVP customers are early adopters that can appreciate the iterative product development process and are willing to provide detailed feedback. Don’t expect your product to appeal to everyone, as there are many customers that only want to engage with the end product. To prevent confusion or disappointment around your MVP, be clear with customers that your product is in early-stage development and will evolve based on customer feedback
4. Disregarding feedback
A minimum viable product is only valuable if you action customer feedback. Review feedback about user-friendliness, visual appeal, functionality, feature set, etc., and apply it to product development and design to create a stronger product for the market.
Examples of minimum viable products
- Facebook was initially launched as TheFacebook and targeted only Harvard University students. The MVP feature set was limited to connecting with other students and posting on individual or class boards.
- Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia tested their rental accommodation idea by renting out their own apartment during a local business conference. They posted pictures of their apartment online and invited guests to pay to stay there.
- Groupon was actually an evolution of a failed crowdfunding website called The Point. It re-emerged as a basic WordPress site (The Daily Groupon) where local deals were manually updated each day and sent to subscribers via an email PDF.